According to Twitter this morning Mayor Fontana suggested this would be London’s biggest event of our life times. That is reason enough for him to lose the next election. When the holder of the highest office in the city thinks a relatively obscure sporting event is the high point he is out of visionary ideas and is becoming an obstacle to progress. The best this city could come up with for attractions was a light show that apparently doesn’t feature any local artists. I know there are other things but seriously, London’s on this world stage and it’s showing off prized rutabagas. A log carving festival maybe fine if we were a logging town but it is not the way to attract the world to what London has to offer. Especially when the wonderful market opposite the venue will be closed at its regular times, as the buses will not be extended.
London should have done better before hosting this event. Hopefully there will be some group to put out a report on improving for next time. Next time how about featuring local artists in concerts free for event ticket holders? Instead of carving blocks of wood, why not show off Western and Fanshawe’s facilities and programs? Or how about promoting London’s facilities for skaters and coaches to come and train here? London should have extended bus hours for the events as hotel rooms are not very close to the venue. Somebody on twitter mentioned London’s startups should be promoted. How long did London have to plan this event, how much better could it be if pragmatic visionaries were consulted?
So in London criticism is easy and affords absolutely no challenge. London has lacked vision and planning for so long it is reduced to seeking easy solutions from other cities. Big businesses and box stores will keep London a shrinking, irrelevant provincial back water. London needs to take stalk of its potentials and have the hard facts spoken aloud. Okay I’m back to re-ranting previous blog posts. Plus people are doing this and not connecting, which is another failure of this city’s governance.
So solutions for London from London is the way forward. This may mean ignoring the vast majority of residence and doing what is needed not what is wanted. I hear plenty of talk of developing along the river, it is in Glen Pearson’s book too, so do it. Strike the balance between perserving nature and developing a central corp of the city. Include hotels, boutiques, restaurants, bars, parks and condos but keep the monopolies and big companies out. Make the whole riverfront a bastion of local business that will keep the profit in London.
Invest in what we already do well is another step London should be doing. Which really brings me to my point, a somewhat selfish point. London will never be home to a NHL team or never host an Olympics. It will never be big enough for the major events, however, before the Clarkson Cup gets to big for London let’s host it. London has hosted larger tournaments in the past and I can’t afford to travel to Markham next week. The Clarkson Cup tournament could be the start of an anual Women’s hockey celebration friendly tournament. Each sponsor would have to commit for several years and each year pay for a team to come to the tournament. There are other events for Women’s hockey so perhaps London goes with other sports that need to find a home, rugby, soccer etc. This event isn’t going to solve London’s problems but will help brand the city as more than a flash in the pan like the figure skating.
Cities used to build walls to keep the barbarians out, London has built imaginary walls to keep reality out. The next municipal election will be critical for London’s survival. If those who want the status quo or more growth of suburbs win the election it will be a sign that London is a lost cause and I will seriously consider voting with my feet.
My vision of London is a city that looks downtown not out to annex the surrounding farms. A city that grows tall not ever fatter. A city that is pedestrian and cyclist friendly reserving the roads for emergency vehicles and delivery trucks. A London where forest city doesn’t refer to the past location chosen but the abundance of trees throughout town and of urban orchards. Perhaps a utopian dream in some respects but aiming for utopia is far better than the growing dystopia I am finding London to be.
I will hope there is a mayoral candidate with vision towards the utopia, but I’m a pessimist. Except in hockey, Go Stars and Go Canadiens!!!