Below the fold is my letter I have sent to Mayor Fontana and all members of London City Council with my concerns about this new shopping centre proposal for Weillington and Dingman Drive.

I’ll let you know if I get any replys.

Good afternoon Mayor Fontana and Councilors,

I am writing to you all today to note my concern about the proposed retail center on Dingman Drive that will be reviewed by Council on Tuesday.

While I am all for a free market economy there is some concerns related to planning and transit in this project that I feel must be addressed.

  • Considering the large amount of vacant commercial property already close to this location, does the south need more commercial zoning? Recently the South West Area Plan has called for a huge amount of increase in commercial space. Much of it will just come from existing businesses moving from existing locations. We have seen such examples when the Wonderland power center was built. So many of these ‘new’ jobs will just be transfers from other locations that move.
  • Under Re-Think London, people have expressed they want better planning and design of commercial space, not the cookie cutter car friendly spaces of the late 2oth century. This was brought out in the SWAP recommendations.
  • Most of these jobs other then the temporary construction jobs will be minimum wage part time jobs with no benefits. While there are those on council who will say “Any job is better then no job” is this the kind of environment of employment we want to encourage in our city for the long term. We should not sell ourselves short just to maintain an election promise.
  • Since these jobs do not pay much, many of the workers will not have access to a car. At present there is only one LTC route that goes near this location and it only runs during rush hour. How will this people get to work? Will part of this plan include an increase in funding to London Transit so a route can be operated out there that ties to the hours of this location? This is something that needs to be included in these applications with the same priority as water and sewer service. Again the citizens of this city have expressed through the Rethink process that more transit is a priority. Since council supports Rethink these issues should be part of the decision making process.
  • Last but not least, please listen to your planning staff with an open (non political) mind. They are experts in what they do and we are very lucky to have such talented staff with the city. (A fact that both the Mayor and members of council have said at various points in the past).

Please do not let shortsighted promises get in the way of long term goals. The things that are best for our city do not come easy. They come with time and hard work and in the end benefit all of us far more then short-term thinking.

Thank you for your time and I would be happy to hear back from any of you.

Stuart Clark