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Category: Politics (page 2 of 15)

Food Trucks


Photo credit: Goodah Gastrotruck

A very quickly written post about food trucks in London

Following the last election which a change in council meant a change in views concerning food trucks the issue was brought back to life. Staff is sending a report to the Community and Protective Services Committee on Wednesday about a food truck pilot plan.

One thing that recently came up as a possible item in the pilot will be the requirement that the food truck owner pay for the installation of a city supplied GPS unit. This in my opinion is an unnecessary addition to the challenges a food truck operator will already have.

The staff report says that having a GPS will allow bylaw staff to determine where a food truck is and if it is obeying the rules set out in the pilot program. In particular the rules regarding distance from an existing restaurant and being in a parking place for a certain amount of time.

Requiring a GPS unit is not only an unnecessary burden for the food truck owner but will not do the job the city wants it to do. A GPS unit is accurate but not so accurate as to pin point the exact parking spot a food truck is in. It will take one court challenge to bring this crashing down. Why would the city want to waste money where there is bylaw enforcement staff already in place? We have a complaint and reporting mechanism that seems to work for other bylaw issues. If were talking about dozens of food trucks then a monitoring solution like this might be an idea but this is not the case.

Restaurants who complain about food trucks threatening their business is a bit of a misleading statement as well. Depending on my mood and how much time I have for a meal determines where I go. I don’t consider them competition. If you are a restaurant owner and are that close to the edge financially then there are other things you need to worry about before food trucks.

Recently during the Mayors state of the city address, it was said that one of councils goals will be to make London a friendlier city to small and medium businesses. Food trucks are a small business. If we are trying to become a ‘startup city’ then lets stop putting roadblocks up on these sort of things. The concept has worked in other cities across North America.

I’m sure when the Community and Protective Services Committee meets it will take a good look at all these issues. The food truck issue first came up in October 2012, it’s time we get things going.

Let’s not screw it up.

David Carr & the future of professional media

David Carr,a media reporter for the New York Times, passed away suddenly in the newsroom of The Gray Lady on Thursday night. His death is a shock to those who were fortunate enough to know him personally as well as many people (like myself) who read his work.

I remember first reading one of David’s columns back in 2009 and always found them very good. I heard more about him when he released a book about himself called “Night of the Gun” in which he describes his battles with drug and alcohol addiction.

In 2011 he was featured in a documentary called Page One: Inside the New York Times. It’s currently on Netflix Canada and is well worth a watch. There is one very memorable scene in the film where David Carr is interviewing executives at a “new” media website. At one point the CEO of Vice throws an inaccurate shot towards the NY Times, David stops him and basically tears him a new one in a very polite but forceful way. This is an example of a journalist who cares about his paper and his craft.

David was first a journalist before anything else. He and many others like him show the value of professional news organizations even in today’s internet society. In the documentary he is filmed working on a story about several problems with the management culture at the Chicago Tribune. You can see how a real news organization gathers information about issues that may not always be the most exciting but are important nevertheless. His co-worker A.O. Scott in his piece today has a great paragraph which sums things up rather well.

“A warrior for the truth.
I can picture his eyebrows shooting upward at that last sentence. A bit much, maybe. But he regarded the newspaper — and all of its digital, televisual and other cognates — as a big, clanking machine for churning out stories. The only rule was that the stories had to be true.”

At the same time that the importance of news organizations has never been more important, the challenges to those very organizations have never been more numerous. The same day that David Carr has passed away, 1/3 of Yahoo Canada’s editorial section were laid off.  In addition Sun News a conservative news network billed as “Fox North” is also shutting down.

Much has been written about the challenges to the traditional media funding model with the rise of the internet. We are able to gather the news quicker and cheaper than ever before, but there is still a need for experienced journalists and news gathering organizations. The need to help analyze these stories and look beyond the ten word soundbyte has never been more apparent. The fact that media organizations that provide a heavily slanted view are running into financial difficulties should not be a surprise to anyone. There is only so much of that sort of “news” an informed public will consume without realizing that there is something missing.

The challenge now is finding a financial model to keep the “true” news organizations around and healthy is more important than ever before.


Post election


I remember four years ago when the municipal election results came in, I was disappointed in some of the results, but I did have hope that as in the past council could work together to service the citizens of the city.

My hopes were dashed a few short months later when we saw the push to 0% on the first budget. Many people noticed that some on council seemed woefully unprepared for meetings. Many seemed to have not even read the reports and agendas that were presented to them. There also seem to be much polarization with a voting block known as the Fontana 8. Party type politics seemed to have arrived in our city.

Compare that to this election night, as the votes started coming in there was a sense that something big was happening. Within a very short time the atmosphere turned electric as people realized that many changes were going to happen.

In the end things turned out better than I hoped. Some races were surprise upsets, some the margin of victory was greater than expected.

Hopefully this new council with many new faces and a new Mayor can start working better together and bring some new ideas that will benefit all in London and area. People have said with so many new faces it will be a steep learning curve and I agree but the city has a good staff who know their stuff. Hopefully this council will listen to them more.

One last thought,  it is still important to keep this level of engagement continuing, not just for us citizens but for those who are serving on council.  Having an idea on what we as citizen’s of this great city are thinking will only help them in the difficult decisions that lie ahead.



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