After reading much of scanning the rest of London’s new plan I commend those who put their input and hard work into the plan. I like most of what I read, but I have some concerns and notice some glaring mistakes, I don’t mean typos and grammar. This document has more loopholes than a Foreign Legion desert fort. The majority of the ideas I like can easily massaged away by council, defunded, deferred and fudged. Maybe I missed the implementation timetable, the plan’s failure conditions and accountability sections. If recent methods in London’s governance continue during the life of this plan then corruption, abuse and a shrinking London will be the result.
A few areas this plan are short sighted and much of it is merely catching up to other communities in the world and the province that have already started down this path. It still uses the archaic concept of growth in an era that will be about sustainability and for some inflexible communities contraction. There should be a plan b built into this before it is adopted in case London can’t grow or sustain its current size. I mention contraction because the loopholes that will allow some sprawl and expansion outward, combined with still focusing on cars and physical retail, could make London one of the communities forced to contract. An example of flexibility needed, during the life of the old plan the United Nations has called upon Ontario to end public funding for the Catholic school system, the plan should be ready for when Ontario finally complies and London has a few new sites to repurpose.
The transit section appears to me to be simply cosmetic. Cars will still be the only option for much of the city, the city is betting on highways over most other inter-city/inter-region travel, and only passingly mentions the transportation that made London viable. Rail is as much of London’s future as it has been of the past. London needs to work with CN and CP to become a regional high speed freight hub and encourage reactivation of viable lines to facilitate this. Forget the NAFTA highway and be an integral link in the Pan Americas rail network. To help increase rail speeds, safety and efficiency London should treat the railroads like the rivers, we can’t afford every street to have a bridge over the Thames and not every street should have a crossing over the rail lines. Streets that don’t get an over/under pass should have the level crossing blocked off and the infrastructure removed to save city and railroad money. With VIA rail and the plan’s regional connection services we really need to beautify London along passenger rail corridors.
The biggest frustration I have with this plan is the planned rapid transit nightmare in downtown London. Rush hour in London with only two limited rapid transit lines converging around Dundas and Richmond will be terrible, especially if cars are going to be allowed on that intersection. The plan for transit still ignores the need for people to get to the industrial areas, the relatively dense population around Argyle Mall and other similar parts of the city. Two cities are in the process of correcting this kind of plan are Paris and Chicago. The lack of suburban links and the economic opportunities that go with them are considered among the causes of the Paris riots a few years ago. Check the links and see everything goes into a central area and radiates out, now click to see how they’re having to spend billions to fix the problems in Paris and Chicago. I’d advise London to correct the plan and at least add some rapid feeder lines, industrial express lines and at the very least add a ring route connecting the satellite transit villages.
As more cities move towards rapid transit infrastructure the costs will go up, let’s get London’s in before the rush. We don’t wait for people to move into a subdivision before putting a road in and we shouldn’t wait for demand to put a larger network of rapid transit in. As the plan stands it looks like there will be a central transit serviced ghetto and a large ring of unserviced ghettos. The plus sign rapid transit plan has been telegraphed so far before construction is to start Farhi has snatched up many properties that are likely to become very valuable by being inside the primary transit zone. Those many forgotten areas will plummet in value and may end up draining the police or other services budgets if they become havens for crime.
I only scanned the services area of the London Plan so I’ll just recommend to clarifying whether or not developer charges are massageable or not, and are they per square meter or just by lot? I’d say yes to per square meter and hell no to council being allowed to subsidize one developer in one area while the rest have to pay full price, that is a recipe for sleazy deals in restaurant back rooms. The next council should seek the provinces assistance in saving money by asking for a central purchasing office so all Ontario communities can pool resources to get economies of scale on purchase such as police cars, fire trucks, snow plows and so on.
I would add one other area that should be a clear goal and measurable objective for the lifecycle of this plan; get London Ontario Canada off its fossil fuel addiction. London is highly vulnerable to the volatile situations around the world that could send natural gas and oil prices skyrocketing. The situation in Ukraine, a country that could be conquered or Balkanized, would send global natural gas supplies higher as Ukraine hosts so many key pipelines to Europe. Oil prices could soar with insurgencies in Saharan Africa putting supplies from Algeria or Nigeria at risk, South Sudan and Libya are moving closer to civil wars that could also hurt oil supply. China sabre rattling with Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines could result in a war causing misstep. I’d ask the next council not to beg for Federal money but demand it be spent on diplomats to defuse some of these volatile situations.
Overall it is a good start, just fix the mistakes, close the loopholes and abe bolder in fixing the mistakes of the last century. If London wants to be everything to everyone it will end being nothing for anyone. Here is a couple of links I found but forgot to work into the post: Food Deserts in Canadian Cities, Could the era of glass skyscrapers be over?