Here is a copy of a letter I am sending to the Mayor and all members of London CIty Council in regards to the Kingsmills – Fanshawe proposal for downtown. For more info see here or here.
I am a resident of London in Ward 7, work in Soho and enjoy all aspects of what London has to offer.
Council’s decision to stop funding for Fanshawe’s expansion plan into the old Kingsmill’s building is a very shortsighted decision.
Many of you who voted against this campaigned on “Jobs Jobs Jobs” and to increase the tax base. Fanshawe expanding into the core will bring $86 million of “shovel ready” projects to the downtown core. In addition, over $9 million worth of direct economic activity would be realized for years. Not bad for an extra $1 million per year.
In addition reopening this debate would show great leadership of council in supporting the London Plan. Council has shown its support for the London plan and the downtown in the past. Studies have shown time and time again that bringing higher learning into downtown are a benefit to the downtown but also to the community as a whole. Look at Cambridge, Toronto and other centres for some examples. Please listen to the experts, particularly your own planning and financial staff. Part of council’s job is looking at the long-term, not just what may get you some sound bytes and votes in the next election if you are running again.
Several of you have indicated you are not planning to run again. Support a visionary project like this and let that be your legacy. There has been enough negative things said about this council in the last 4 years. Let’s try and have a positive thing.
London’s Mayor Joe Fontana has said he will not take a leave of absence in light of have 3 criminal charges against him by the Crown/RCMP. The charges are as follows.
Breach of Trust by Public Officer, contrary to section 122 CC
Fraud Under $5000 contrary to section 380 (1)(b) CC
Uttering Forged Documents contrary to section 368 CC
These are serious allegations for anyone but for someone in public life and at the helm of an organization with a budget of 1 billion dollars it does give pause whether the Mayor still has the public’s trust in guiding the organization.
Other people have blogged about how council got to the point of not wanting to have a community meeting about the backyard chicken issues.
My main concern was the opinion of some members of council in this issue. Many of those on council realized that this issue was not about chickens but it was more about citizen engagement.
Mayor Fontana and Councilor’s Swan and Van Meerbergen spoke against the meeting. I have no problem with them being honest as it is one of the things I’ve said a politician should do. My concerns are some of the things being said. All three spoke about priorities but the question is who defines the priorities. The mayor has pointed out that citizen engagement is important but tonight’s meeting seems to show that it only matters when it fits in with “priorities”. Several people have already left the Community Engagement Task Force because of this issue and frankly I’m wondering If I should continue as council seems to play lip service to community engagement.
During his speech Councilor Swan also lifted tonight’s council agenda and attachments, it was in the 100’s of pages if one counts the minutes and agendas of the three subcommittee’s. Perhaps if the workload is that heavy and priorities must be made, the issue of full time councilors should be looked at again.
Councilor Van Meerbergen comments seemed very out of line and to him the whole matter seemed almost a joke. Based on his comments last week it appears he knows very little about the matter and would not take the time to learn.
I hope those council members who attend the meeting at least do so with an open mind, unlike some who’s minds are already made up. Hopefully the voters mind won’t be as made up next election time.