Performance Review

performance review

As my term with Council has now passed the half-way point, I would like to reach out to Londoners to gain their feedback with respect to my performance as the Councillor of Ward 10. I look forward to the open and honest feedback from Londoners, and know that it will assist me in continuing to improve how I serve my community.
I have created an evaluation form that anyone is able to complete anonymously. The evaluation can be found on my website and hard copies can also be obtained from my office by calling 519-661-5095, please request to speak with my direct Admin.
This is an initiative I have taken on myself as I feel that to best serve Londoners, I need to hear about where I can improve.
I request that Londoners take 2-5 minutes or 5-15 minutes to provide me with the feedback that will shape how I serve the community in the future.

SHORT SURVEY

SURVEY with comment boxes

Posted in Featured, Ward 10

2016 Compensation Task Force report

From the city of London website for the August SPPC meeting agenda: Report

Posted in Current Issues

MPAC Housing Assessment Values and Municipal Taxation – 2017

Prepared by Matthew White
Council Research Team
Housing Value and Taxation
For Cllr. Ridley
June 26, 2017

PDF Version: MPAC Housing Assessment Values and Municipal Taxation – 2017

Summary
Every four years, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) performs an assessment on every home in Ontario in order to provide a dollar value that will be used by municipalities for taxing purposes.

MPAC’s assessment considers over 200 factors when evaluating your home. 85% of the total assessment is made up from five of those factors. These five factors are: location, lot dimension, age of property, quality of construction, and structure size. Once the assessment of your property is complete, your home is then compared to homes with similar assessments in your area that have recently sold. After collecting the information on the sales price of these comparable properties and making necessary adjustments specific to your home, MPAC arrives at an assessed value of your property. This figure is the price your home could have sold for January 1st on the year of the assessment.

If comparable homes in your area are selling for an average of $220,000, then your home will be assessed at that figure, taking into account any adjustments that MPAC makes regarding specific details of your property. MPAC will only compare your home to the sales price of similar properties in your area based on the 200 factors. Your home assessment will not be affected by the sale value of properties that are dissimilar to your property. MPAC will only compare homes on an “apples to apples” basis.

Currently, home values are set by the January 1st 2016 valuation date. If your home’s value increased in 2016, your new value is being phased in on a 4-year basis (increasing by 25% increments of the total increase each year). For example, if your home was previously valued at $200,000 and then revalued at $220,000 in 2016, the increase will be phased in for property tax purposes over the following four years:

o $205,000 in 2017
o $210,000 in 2018
o $215,000 in 2019
o $220,000 in 2020

When your municipal taxing authority sets property tax rates, your assessed value and classification are used to determine your property taxes. The next assessment valuations will be released January 1st 2020 and will affect the tax years of 2021 to 2024. During this assessment, your home will be compared to the sales value of similar properties in your area that have sold over the span of 2016 to 2019, as close to the date of January 1, 2020 as possible.

You will not be taxed at your new assessed value immediately; rather the city will tax your home on the yearly phase-in value. In the example above, in 2017, you would be taxed on the $205,000 phase-in value not the $220,000 final value which will be taxed in 2020.

An assessment valuation increase does not necessarily mean that your property taxes will increase. Your tax level (the amount of dollars you will be billed) will depend on the various distribution of all the increases and decreases of home values throughout the city.

In the case that certain portions of the city’s home values increased greatly compared to other portions of the city that did not increase, homeowners that received larger increases in their home’s value may see a larger tax increase than those who either decreased in value or remained at value similar to their last assessment.

In the case that all home values increased equally, then everyone’s property taxes would increase at equal levels.

Keep in mind that these home reassessments have no impact on the total property tax amount a municipality raises. Reassessments only affect the way the tax levy is allocated amongst the various properties and property classes.

The City of London may adjust the property tax rate based on the increase or decreases in total home values. The expected annual city budget for that year is divided by the total value of all London properties, at various rates depending on the kind of property, to determine the municipal tax rate. For example: $1.36 Billion (the expected city budget) / $100 Billion (the total value of all London properties) = 1.36% (municipal tax rate).

To determine how much a home owner will pay for property taxes, a homeowner’s assessed home value (i.e. $300,000) is multiplied by this new municipal tax rate (i.e. 1.36%).
In 2017, the total dollar value of residential properties in London increased by 1.31%. This increase was mainly due to MPAC valuations phasing-in the 2017 value of homes. Because the total value of London properties increased, the tax rate needed to meet the needs of the city budget has lowered (2017’s tax rate has dropped slightly from 1.36261% in 2016 to 1.360444%).
It is expected that everyone’s tax level (the actual amount of dollars you will pay) will increase because the city’s budget is planned to grow by 2.6% each year until 2020 when the next budget is determined. The city has decided that residential property tax levels should only increase by 1.1%. The difference is accommodated by taxing other kinds of properties (i.e. commercial, industrial, etc. at different rates). This 2.6% increase in the budget, and 1.1% residential property tax increase, equates to an annual average residential property tax increase of $71 (based on the average home price of $221,000).
To clarify, while the tax rate may be lowered, this new rate of 1.360444% is being applied to a larger total dollar of home values than last year. Due to the combination of a higher city budget and the increased total value of homes in London, Londoners will pay slightly more in property taxes on average. In terms of dollar value, this lower rate translated into a slight increase in the average tax level (dollar value). Londoners on average paid 1.1% more dollars than they did on last year’s taxes because the total value of London homes increased.
Tax rate = the rate at which Londoners are taxed on their property
Tax level = the amount of actual dollars spent by Londoners
So while the rate is going down, the overall dollars paid are going up approximately 1.1%.
Because the average value of London homes is going up, most people will see a slight rise in the dollar amount of their taxes. The tax rate is going down but the amount of dollars taxed is going up. The net effect of the two in combination is that the tax level or the actual amount to be paid on average is going up by 1.1%

APPENDICIES:
Question:
Currently the housing market is high, meaning that homes are selling at higher than normal. Cllr Ridley is therefore wondering,
If a resident sells their home, the buyer is faced with increased property tax, based on the home sale price. Every four years MPAC reassess homes to ensure the correct amount of property tax is reflected, for all homes in the City of London.

Due to the increase of home selling prices, does this affect the overall tax amount for the neighboring homes and community?

(Not necessarily – only the values of comparable houses in the area will affect a home owners assessment, MPAC values homes apples to apples; in other words if houses of a similar kind start selling high, all similar houses in the neighbourhood will see an increase, but the other homes will not be affected; those other homes will be affected by the sale prices of homes in that neighbourhood that are similar to their kind)

MPAC

  • Every home receives their own home assessment by MPAC
  • MPAC gives home owners one value for 4 years
  • If the value of the new assessment is higher than the previous assessment, then the increased value of the home is phased in for 4 years; the City of London will tax the phased-in assessed value over the next 4 years
  • If the value is a decrease from the previous assessment, then the decrease in immediate
  • The current assessment value is based on the valuation date of Jan 1, 2016 and effect the London tax years of 2017-2020
  • The next assessment value will be based on the valuation date of Jan 1, 2020 and effect the London tax years of 2021-2024
  • MPAC provides your property’s assessment information to your municipality/local taxing authority. The assessed value of your property is used as the basis for calculating your property taxes. The value on the notice you received in 2016 will be used by your municipality/local taxing authority to calculate your taxes for the 2017-2020 property tax years.
  • The City of London may adjust their property tax rate based on the increase or decreases in total home values. The tax rate depends on the City’s revenue needs over the next year. The expected annual city budget for that year is divided by the total value of all London residential properties to determine the municipal tax rate.
  • For example: $1.36 Billion (the expected city budget) / $100 Billion (the total value of all London properties) = 1.36% (municipal tax rate)
  • To determine how much a home owner will pay for property taxes, a homeowner’s assessed home value (i.e. $300,000) is multiplied by this new municipal tax rate (i.e. 1.36%).
  • Assessed Value x Tax Rate (for the residential property class) = Property Tax
  • For example $300,000 x 0.0136 = $4,080
  • Under the phase-in provision in the Assessment Act, an increase in assessed value is introduced gradually over four years. A decrease in assessed value is introduced immediately.
  • For example, if your home was valued $300,000 in 2016 and then $400,000 in 2020, the increase will be phased in for property tax purposes over the following for years
    o $325,000 in 2021
    o $350,000 in 2022
    o $375,000 in 2023
    o $400,000 in 2024 (https://www.mpac.ca/PropertyTypes/ResidentialProperties)
  • If your home was valued at $300,000 in 2016 and then $280,000 in 2020, the decrease will drop to that figure immediately and will be taxed at $280,000 for the next 4 years.
  • When your municipality/local taxing authority sets property tax rates, your assessed value and classification are used to determine your property taxes. An assessment increase does not necessarily mean that your property taxes will increase. For questions about your property taxes, please contact your municipality/local taxing authority. Education tax rates, where applicable, are set by the Government of Ontario and will also be applied to the assessed value.
  • Understanding Phase-in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI57TJpDcz

How MPAC assesses houses

  • 85% of the MPAC assessment is based on 5 factors: location, lot dimension, age of property, quality of construction, and structure size
  • Total of 200 factors go into the full assessment, but those 5 factors make up the bulk
  • Assessed values are released every 4 years (Jan 1. 2020 is the next assessment)
  • Once the assessment of your property is complete, your home is then compared to homes with similar assessments in your area that have recently been sold. This comparison between your home and similar home sale prices determines the value of your home.
  • Our assessors are trained experts in the field of valuation and apply appraisal industry standards and best practices. We look at sales and compare your property to similar properties that have sold in your area. This approach is called Current Value Assessment.
  • “After collecting the sales of the comparable properties and making the necessary adjustments we arrive at an average assessed value of the property. That is what the property could have sold for on the valuation date.”

Correspondence with MPAC

  • “So the assessment is done first (the 5 major factors, and the total of 200 factors) to determine what my home is, then it is grouped together similar houses in that area that have sold recently…and the average sale price of those homes at the time will determine my value”
  • “The assessed value must reflect what the properties could have sold for on the valuation date”
  • “Correct and if there are other factors that impact your property we make the necessary adjustment to the value”
  • “so the sales of other homes is not actually part of the initial assessment; the sales of other homes are only taken into consideration after MPAC knows what my home ‘is’, via those 200 factors”
  • “Correct”
  • “So once all of those 200 factors determine what my home ‘is’, MPAC can group me into similar houses in my area and the average sale of those properties, determines the value of my home, + or – the adjustments that need to be made”
  • “So if I get grouped into houses in my area that are all selling their homes at $400,000, my next assessment will be $400,000 (+ or – the adjustments)”
  • “Correct, as I said before sales of similar properties is the driving force. In some cases adjustment have to be done for different factors that may impact the value of the property. It could be near a cemetery, therefore, a negative adjustment would have to be made to the property to compensate for location”
  • “So, the majority of the value of my home is based on the market demand for houses of my type in the area”
  • “Say all of the houses of my type were valued at $250,000 in 2016 and then Justin Bieber or Beyoncé or Google moves in and the market gets hot for my neighbourhood and between 2016 and 2020, lots of people with similar homes to me are now selling their homes to people for $400,000 and, because of this, on Jan 1 2020, the value of my home would be assessed at $400,000”
  • “That would influence the assessed value.”
  • “Does that mean MPAC will assess my home at $400,000 (+ or – the adjustments) because that’s what houses like mine are going for at the time”
  • “You are correct.”
  • “For more discussion please call 1 866 296 6722”
  • “So for tax purposes, the increase of sales in my neighbourhood may increase my municipal taxes, because my home is now valued at 400,000”
  • “It may, but the municipality may also lower the tax rates”
  • “Right”
  • “MPAC will find homes that sold as close to Jan 1 2020 as possible that are similar to my home within my area based on 200 factors and the median home sale of all the comparable homes, will determine the assessment of my home”
  • “That’s correct.”
  • “Is it going to be the exact sale price of that median home?”
  • “It’s going to be a median value of sale prices of comparable properties.”
  • “Right, and that can be up to 6 comparable properties in my area? Does it ever go higher than 6?”
  • “It’s up to 6, it could be less, not more”
  • “So for the taxes then… my taxes will be based on the phase in rate…so in 2021, I will be taxed on the 2021 phase in value of my Jan 1 2020 assessment value”
  • “Correct”
  • “and that Jan 1 2020 assessment is based on the median comparable sales in my neighbourhood”
  • “It will be yes”
  • “So the sales of homes in my neighbourhood up to 2020 will determine, to an extent, my future property taxes”
  • “Yes”
  • “Does my home only get compared to the market value of homes in my area that are similar to my home?”
  • “Correct”
  • “So, say a lot of homes in my area are selling for really high values, but they aren’t homes that are similar to mine (via the 200 factors), then those sales won’t affect my home value”
  • “MPAC will only compare all similar properties for the assessment”
  • “To establish your property’s assessed value, MPAC analyzes sales of comparable properties in your area. In addition, we look at all of the key features that affect market value.”
  • “But if I live in an area with very diverse homes and properties, the assessments will all vary because only the sales of similar homes are compared”
  • “MPAC will always compare similar homes e.g orange to orange”
  • “So if I live in a 1 floor bungalow, but live next to a 3 floor mansion, our sale prices won’t affect each other”
  • “Correct”
  • “We have an online self-service application for property owners who wish to look up basic property assessment information. Residential property owners can review details about their property such as: • Current assessed value • Legal description • Year built • Square footage • Site area, etc., and assessment roll values for up to 24 properties of interest and 100 snapshots, free of charge”
  • “To access our online AboutMyProperty log into www.aboutmyproperty.ca. Your Roll Number and Access Key are located on the right hand side of your Property Assessment Notice.”
  • How properties are assessed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uikghy2Yz10&feature=youtu.be
  • How to determine what homes you are being compared to and where: https://www.mpac.ca/PropertyTypes/PropertyAssessmentProcedures/AssessmentProcedureForTheDevelopmentOfHomogeneousNeighbourhoods

City of London

  • “Tax rates are applied to the current value assessment of each property as determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)”
  • “A municipality determines its budget requirements each year. If the average value for the properties increases, the tax rate decreases to keep the same amount of property tax levy”
  • Reassessments have no impact on the total property tax amount a municipality raises.
  • Reassessments only affect the way the tax levy is allocated amongst the various properties and property classes.
  • “How 2017 Tax Rates Compare to Last Year – While there is a phased-in assessment value increase of approximately 1.31% for residential properties overall, the total 2017 tax rate (1.360444%) is slightly less than that of 2016 (1.36261%). The combined effect of phased-in assessment values and changes in nominal tax rates is that property tax levels have increased approximately 1.1% for the average residential property”
  • “On an individual level, most residential property owners will experience a tax change either above or below the average 1.1% increase. The tax change on any particular residential property will depend on whether the phased-in assessment changed more or less than the approximate 1.31% average increase” – Why?
  • The 2017 residential tax rate of 1.360444% breaks down as follows:
    o General rate is 1.181444%
    o Education rate is 0.179000%
    o (http://www.london.ca/residents/Property-Matters/Property-Taxes/Pages/Residential-Property-Taxes.aspx)
  • “How is Property Tax Determined? A number of factors go into determining your yearly property tax rate: The annual budget for City services; which includes things like funding Police, Fire and Ambulance Service, Roads, Sidewalks, Transit, Parks, Trails, Museums, Recreation Centres, Libraries, and all City programs and services; Provincial taxes (to fund education); Your property value which is assessed every four years by MPAC”
  • “The reassessed values will apply to the tax years 2017 through 2020. Increases in assessment values will be phased in over four years; decreases in assessment will be effective in 2017”
  • “However, the MPAC notice you received last year does not automatically increase or change your property taxes. The bottom line is the City of London does not get one more dollar from the MPAC property reassessment. Property reassessment is a redistribution of who pays the municipal tax bill based on the value of the property owned – it has no effect on the overall tax amount collected.”
  • The phased in rate will be the rate that the annual taxes will be based on. So the current assessment taken on Jan 1 2016 will affect the tax years of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. The phase in rate for each year of the assessment will correspond with the tax rate of the same year. (i.e. 2017’s tax rate will be based on a homeowner’s 2017 phase-in value, not their 2020 value)
  • City of London administration has tabled a multi-year budget that covers 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. The starting point for the multi-year budget as proposed to City Council this afternoon contains an average annual increase of 2.6%.
  • This 2.6% equates to an annual average increase of $71 (based on the average home price of $221,000). This is considered the starting point as this increase results from existing programs and services
  • City Council will still have to decide what new or expanded initiatives from their Strategic plan will be funded and this could result in an additional increase of 0.5% which equates to an additional $14 (based on the average home price of $221, 000). When combining these two, Londoners could be looking at an annual average of 3.1% ($85 based on the average home price of $221,000).
  • Because of this annual increase, everyone’s tax level will go up, even though the rate is expected to go down. How much the level goes up will depend on the individual homeowner’s assessment.
  • https://www.london.ca/residents/Property-Matters/Property-Taxes/Pages/How-Property-Tax-is-Calculated.aspx
  • https://www.london.ca/residents/Property-Matters/Property-Taxes/Pages/Property-Assessment-and-Your-Municipal-Taxes.aspx

Correspondence with the City of London
Matt: Dear London Tax Office,
I am the Research Intern for the Councillor’s Office and I had a quick question about the current 2017 tax rate for residential properties.
According to the London website,
“How 2017 Tax Rates Compare to Last Year – While there is a phased-in assessment value increase of approximately 1.31% for residential properties overall, the total 2017 tax rate (1.360444%) is slightly less than that of 2016 (1.36261%). The combined effect of phased-in assessment values and changes in nominal tax rates is that property tax levels have increased approximately 1.1% for the average residential property”

“On an individual level, most residential property owners will experience a tax change either above or below the average 1.1% increase. The tax change on any particular residential property will depend on whether the phased-in assessment changed more or less than the approximate 1.31% average increase”

Could you explain to me what the 1.1% tax increase is? According to this, the tax rate is going down from 1.3626 to 1.3604. If the rates are going down, then why are taxes increasing by 1.1%? Is a ‘tax level’ different from a ‘tax rate’? If so, what is the difference?

Is the tax level the actual amount of cash a home owner pays? So while the tax rate is going down, the cash value of the taxation, on average, is going up slightly? Is this because the value of homes are increasing so much? So because a homeowner’s home is worth a lot more, their tax rate will go down, but the actual cash they pay on taxes will be higher?

Jim Logan: Matthew, in reference to your e-mail copied below, what you are thinking is correct. The rate is going down but the value is going up. The net effect of the two in combination is that the tax level or the actual amount to be paid on average is going up by 1.1%.

Matt: Thank you very much for the quick response. So just to clarify:

Tax rate = the rate at which Londoners are taxed on their property
Tax level = the amount of actual dollars spent by Londoners

So while the rate is going down, the overall dollars are going up or down around 1.1%.
And this is probably because the market for homes is rising?

Jim Logan: That is correct Matthew.

Videos:
How MPAC Assesses Property

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uikghy2Yz10
How Your Property Tax is calculated

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgGbLotF_QQ
Example of Various Hypothetical Tax Scenarios Using the Example in the Video Above

City Budget = $1000

(2016 home values – hypothetical)
80,000 90,000 130,000 = 300,000
0.333% 0.333% 0.333%
267 300 433 = 1000

(all homes increase at the same rate)
85,000 95,000 135,000 = 315,000
0.3174% 0.3174% 0.3174%
267 302 429 = 998

(all homes increase, but at different rates)
85,000 95,000 140,000 = 320,000
0.3125% 0.3125% 0.3125%
266 297 438 = 1001

(Bottom and Top homes increase, mid homes stay the same)
85,000 90,000 145,000 = 320,000
0.3125% 0.3125% 0.3125%
266 281 453 = 1000

(Bottom and mid homes decrease, top stays the same)
75,000 85,000 130,000 = 290,000
0.344% 0.344% 0.344%
258 292 447 = 997

(Bottom and mid homes increase, top stays the same)
85,000 95,000 130,000 = 310,000
0.32% 0.32% 0.32%
272 304 416 = 992

Extra

“Data from the Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA) National MLS® Report for April 2017 shows the average sales price for a London and St. Thomas home was $352,560, still far below the national average of $536,028” (http://globalnews.ca/news/3502476/record-may-for-london-and-area-home-sales/)

Posted in Featured, Ward 10

July Newsletter

Virginia-Ridley_WebGraphics-Newsletter

Dear friends,

Summer is here! I am writing this in advance, as my family and I will be away on a Canadian summer road trip.  This year we have decided to take two weeks and will be trying to see as much of the East coast as we can. I want to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day, and hope that you are able to enjoy the celebrations with family or friends. There is a lot of free events in and around London this year, helping us to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

This month City Hall has been as busy as always, however we are now getting ready for a shorter meeting schedule for the summer months.  A few important notes for residents of Ward 10.

The development at Springbank and Wonderland – you may have seen the trees being removed at this location. The development proposal is moving through the last phases right now, and we will start to see building in the near future.

We had some really good news at our last Civic Works meeting – a few key projects were finalized.  The one I found most interesting is a bio-solid heat recovery investment at the pollution control plant.  We are already incinerating many of the bio-solids there, but with the heat recovery unit we are investing about 2 million dollars, and will be generating about 20 million dollars in revenue over the next 20 years.  This project is one of the many ways that the city is leading in innovative projects.

Regarding speeding and speed control.  The most common concern I get is speeding on residential roads.  We all need to make sure we are driving safely, and are aware of pedestrians and cyclist.  Council recently approved Vision Zero – a global movement dedicated to the elimination of traffic deaths and injuries caused by vehicular collisions while increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all. I successfully petitioned to have a report come back regarding residential road safety – in other words, best practices in other municipalities have adopted with vision zero. Traffic calming and stop signs are not the answer here.  A few reasons for this:

1) most streets do not warrant traffic calming
2) traffic calming studies cost significant money and resources
3) if a street is approved for traffic calming – there is about a ten year waiting list for this to happen
4) many people who live near speed humps have expressed their dislike to me

Once our staff look at what other cities are doing, they will be reporting back regarding other options for traffic calming options that we can look at.  I will keep you updated about this as I find out more.  I have been asking police to enforce areas and do blitzes where speed is identified as an issue.

Another item that came up at my ward meeting was regarding the effect of the increase in home prices in current real estate sales.  Some of the questions were:

1) How will increased real estate prices impact my next MPAC assessment
2) If my home is valued much higher than it previously was, how will increased values be phased in?
3) Are houses being taxed at the rate of the sale price once they transfer ownership to the new owners?

My office research staff are currently pulling information about this, and I hope to have some information for you in my next newsletter.

The rain! Please remember to check your backwater valves to help keep your basements dry. If you do not have a backwater valve, you can apply to the city’s basement flooding grant program, which will pay 90% of the costs, and allow you to repay the remaining 10% over the course of 10 years with your tax bill.  This is a program which, although already existed, I successfully advocated for increased funding percentages to help residents protect their homes during rain events.  To learn more about the program, please click here.

I am considering doing another series for social media or my website.  In the past I have done ride-alongs with London departments or services, and shared my experiences on social media; a mid-term report card; and have done a month long blogging project. This summer, I will be sending out a ward wide mail out with relevant information about how to get a hold of me, and various city services.    My intent in doing these projects is to help bring municipal government closer to you.  I am interested to know if you are feeling engaged, and getting the information you are looking for from me as your councillor.  How could I better reach you? What types of things would you like to know about the city? I’m open to any ideas that you may have, please send them my way!

Kind Regards,

Virginia Ridley
Councillor
Ward 10

Call or Text: 226-927-0539
Email: vridley@london.ca
300 Dufferin Ave, Suite 314
LONDON ON N6A 4L9

Like me on facebook: www.facebook.com/vridley
Follow me on twitter: @virginia_ridley

Posted in Featured, Newsletter

July Newsletter

Virginia-Ridley_WebGraphics-Newsletter

Dear friends,

Summer is here! I am writing this in advance, as my family and I will be away on a Canadian summer road trip.  This year we have decided to take two weeks and will be trying to see as much of the East coast as we can. I want to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day, and hope that you are able to enjoy the celebrations with family or friends. There is a lot of free events in and around London this year, helping us to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

This month City Hall has been as busy as always, however we are now getting ready for a shorter meeting schedule for the summer months.  A few important notes for residents of Ward 10.

The development at Springbank and Wonderland – you may have seen the trees being removed at this location. The development proposal is moving through the last phases right now, and we will start to see building in the near future.

We had some really good news at our last Civic Works meeting – a few key projects were finalized.  The one I found most interesting is a bio-solid heat recovery investment at the pollution control plant.  We are already incinerating many of the bio-solids there, but with the heat recovery unit we are investing about 2 million dollars, and will be generating about 20 million dollars in revenue over the next 20 years.  This project is one of the many ways that the city is leading in innovative projects.

Regarding speeding and speed control.  The most common concern I get is speeding on residential roads.  We all need to make sure we are driving safely, and are aware of pedestrians and cyclist.  Council recently approved Vision Zero – a global movement dedicated to the elimination of traffic deaths and injuries caused by vehicular collisions while increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all. I successfully petitioned to have a report come back regarding residential road safety – in other words, best practices in other municipalities have adopted with vision zero. Traffic calming and stop signs are not the answer here.  A few reasons for this:

1) most streets do not warrant traffic calming
2) traffic calming studies cost significant money and resources
3) if a street is approved for traffic calming – there is about a ten year waiting list for this to happen
4) many people who live near speed humps have expressed their dislike to me

Once our staff look at what other cities are doing, they will be reporting back regarding other options for traffic calming options that we can look at.  I will keep you updated about this as I find out more.  I have been asking police to enforce areas and do blitzes where speed is identified as an issue.

Another item that came up at my ward meeting was regarding the effect of the increase in home prices in current real estate sales.  Some of the questions were:

1) How will increased real estate prices impact my next MPAC assessment
2) If my home is valued much higher than it previously was, how will increased values be phased in?
3) Are houses being taxed at the rate of the sale price once they transfer ownership to the new owners?

My office research staff are currently pulling information about this, and I hope to have some information for you in my next newsletter.

The rain! Please remember to check your backwater valves to help keep your basements dry. If you do not have a backwater valve, you can apply to the city’s basement flooding grant program, which will pay 90% of the costs, and allow you to repay the remaining 10% over the course of 10 years with your tax bill.  This is a program which, although already existed, I successfully advocated for increased funding percentages to help residents protect their homes during rain events.  To learn more about the program, please click here.

I am considering doing another series for social media or my website.  In the past I have done ride-alongs with London departments or services, and shared my experiences on social media; a mid-term report card; and have done a month long blogging project. This summer, I will be sending out a ward wide mail out with relevant information about how to get a hold of me, and various city services.    My intent in doing these projects is to help bring municipal government closer to you.  I am interested to know if you are feeling engaged, and getting the information you are looking for from me as your councillor.  How could I better reach you? What types of things would you like to know about the city? I’m open to any ideas that you may have, please send them my way!

Kind Regards,

Virginia Ridley
Councillor
Ward 10

Call or Text: 226-927-0539
Email: vridley@london.ca
300 Dufferin Ave, Suite 314
LONDON ON N6A 4L9

Like me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/vridley
Follow me on twitter: @virginia_ridley

Posted in Newsletter, Ward 10

June Newsletter

Virginia-Ridley_WebGraphics-Newsletter

Dear friends,

June already, how did that happen?

I hope you are all enjoying time outside, with family friends or neighbours.  Summer is my favourite time.  I enjoy the warmer weather, and also the opportunity to connect with neighbours outdoors.

I hosted a successful ward meeting on May 25th at the Westmount Branch Public Library.  The topic of the meeting was environmental programs and the video for the meeting is available on facebook.  Each quarter I try to find topics that are relevant to our community, and ask staff to attend to share information with residents.  I am open to suggestions for future meetings – if there are specific programs or service areas you would like to learn about, let me know!

My ward meetings are also an opportunity for you to ask questions of me.  This month there were questions about playground flooding, taxes and real estate values. The minutes will be available in the near future on my website.

This month we also had one of the largest public participation meetings I have ever attended.  The topic was Shift – Rapid Transit.  Approximately 1,000 people attended the John Labatt Centre; several of them shared their concerns, thoughts, and support of the project.  Council has approved the Rapid Transit routes, and has removed the tunnel from the Richmond St. route.  This project will be transformational and will support the future growth of our city.  That being said, the discussion with the community can not end now.  I need you to keep communicating, asking questions and participating in the process.

This Saturday, June 3, the Urban League is promoting 100 in 1 day event.  There will be activities all over London to participate in and enjoy.  Take a look at this list of activities, and hopefully there is something for you!

Kind Regards,

Virginia Ridley
Councillor
Ward 10

Call or Text: 226-927-0539
Email: vridley@london.ca
300 Dufferin Ave, Suite 314
LONDON ON N6A 4L9

Like me on facebook: www.facebook.com/vridley
Follow me on twitter: @virginia_ridley

Posted in Newsletter, Ward 10

May Newsletter

Virginia-Ridley_WebGraphics-Newsletter

Dear friends,

I don’t want to jinx it, but I think it is safe to say that we are finally out of the random-snowstorms-in-spring transition period between seasons! The month of May also marks the beginning of four quieter months in London when many of the Western and Fanshawe students are home for the summer.

I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming ward meeting this month! On Thursday, May 25th, we will be meeting at the Westmount branch of the London Public Library (3200 Wonderland Road South). This meeting will go from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Let me know if you are coming by registering at the Eventbrite page here! We will be discussing the different environmental programs that are available in London, such as the Growing Naturally Program, Composting at Home, Naturalization, Tree Removal, Tree Protection By-Law, and ReForest London.

I created a contest for the month of April to encourage all Londoners to plan a park or street clean up. Participants wee eligible to enter a draw to win a $25.00 gift card to a location of the winner’s choice or one of two prizes of 2L of ice cream a month for six months from the London Ice Cream Company! Now that the month is over, I will randomly draw three winning names and contact them via direct message – I will only post the winners’ names with their permission.

On April 23rd, a resident and I arranged a community clean up at the SouthWest Optimist Park. We had about 30 people out cleaning the park for about an hour. Thank you to everyone who took the time to keep our community beautiful! Imagine how wonderful our neighbourhoods would look if this were a habit.

There has been progress towards a decision with regards to ranked ballots. On April 22nd, the Corporate Services Committee held a Public Participation Meeting on the topic. Several councillors who are not on the committee also attended the meeting. The Committee reviewed feedback from Londoners in-person and in written submissions. Tonight, council voted in favour of ranked ballots. I supported this because those who still want to vote for only one candidate can, and those who want to rank three can also do that. This is adding an option, not taking away an option.

In other news, the Urban League of London (ULL) has asked me to spread the word about a global festival that is coming to London on Saturday, June 3rd. The ULL asks residents to plan events, no matter how small, on this day with a goal of 100 events hosted altogether! More information can be found in this quick 1-minute video and on the website. You may contact Wes Kinghorn at info@urbanleague.ca or at 518-858-1900 for more information.

I have spoken with many of you about rapid transit in London, and I want to use this newsletter to be transparent and clarify why I support it. Overall, having some form of rapid transit infrastructure in place will change how future generations of Londoners see their transit options in their city. If they grow up with an effective and affordable system in place, they might not feel the need to buy a car. While you and I might not plan to make the switch, many Londoners already are and some would like to start. Even if you do not use transit, fewer cars on the road reduce our time spent in traffic as well as our impact on our environment.

Not only that, this change is strategic when considering Council’s commitment to inwards and upwards growth, recorded in the 2014 Strategic Plan for London. In previous newsletters, I have mentioned the unsustainable nature of the city’s road-widening initiatives, which will continue to be costly for taxpayers. Without rapid transit, the next ten years of road-widening initiatives are projected to cost taxpayers about $300 million. The BRT will cost about $560 million. $130 million of development charge money leveraged against $430 million in funding from other levels of government. That funding, your tax dollars, is going to go to transit projects no matter what, I would prefer that your tax dollars are being spent in London, saving you money. In comparable cities, media sources have shown that those selling their homes were able to ask for significantly higher prices from out-of-city buyers after rapid transit lines were built. Rapid transit would also improve the parking situation in downtown London. You can park anywhere along the rapid transit route, then you do not have to worry about finding and paying for parking downtown.

Rapid transit would revamp the entire LTC system. The many buses that connect the schools, shopping centres, and malls will be re-routed. As a result, there will be more frequent service and shorter wait times, especially for those living away from the downtown core. I am committed to reviewing the proposed BRT routes and getting the information I need to make the most fiscally-responsible decision for a sustainable future. Feel free to reach out any time that you have questions or input about my position! There are still a lot of technical questions that need to be answered. Our staff – available at shift@london.ca are the best to answer technical questions. A few days ago, I wrote a more in-depth list explanation of my reasons for supporting this decision can be found here, on a blog post from my What Do You Do? series.

For the past month, I have been writing daily updates on the Blog page of my website about the work I have done on that day. While it is clear that I spend most of my waking hours working on City Council business and with my family, I love what I do and I had fun sharing it with you. I am in this work because I enjoy talking with people about the issues that are important to them. For those who were reading along this month, I hope you found this series to be helpful in understanding how I do my job.
If you have not had the chance to read it, you can catch up! Read the first three submissions here!

If you are interested in sharing any of the information in this newsletter, I encourage you to forward this email to your neighbours. If the people you want to share this with do not use e-mail, you can contact my office to make arrangements to receive paper copies. I mail out packages of 10-30 newsletters for those who are willing to share with their neighbours. I appreciate any help that you are able and willing to offer!

I hope you enjoy this wonderful month. Happy May Day!

Kind Regards,

Virginia Ridley
Councillor
Ward 10

Call or Text: 226-927-0539
Email: vridley@london.ca
300 Dufferin Ave, Suite 314
LONDON ON N6A 4L9

Posted in Ward 10

What do you do? – April 28, 29 & 30th

What do you do? – The final entry, meetings, the cottage, and reflections

Well, this is it.  The final post of a month of “A day in the life.”

It’s been a fun experiment, and certainly, has had me reflecting on how I use my time.  I’m going to do the three-day summary, then some reflections on the month at the end of this post.

On Friday, Andrew had a doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning, so I started work a little early to compensate for my time off.  After his appointment, we were to meet his class on a field trip, but when I called to verify the location, realized the trip is next week.  Andrew was bashful about this mix-up.  It worked out well though, and I got him to class just before 10 am.

I got back to work and was able to get everything done in time for lunch with a friend.  She is a real estate agent and had recently completed a walk through of our house.  I have no idea of home values right now and with the market so disrupted, I wanted an understanding of our homes value, as I plan to negotiate with the bank to withdraw some of the equity for a renovation – provided all the numbers work out right. I am still getting quotes for the renovation projects, and if they come in, in the ballpark I am planning on, then I should be able to do the renovations. We had a nice lunch at Angel’s Family Restuarant.  If you are ever looking for a good lunch location, I highly recommend them.  The homemade soups and lunch portions are perfect!

After lunch, I made my way into City Hall for a few meetings and some work.  There was an error in scheduling with my 3 pm appointment, so I was able to catch up with Councillor Cassidy for a few minutes before we both left. I also saw Councillor Hopkins in the office and chatted for a few minutes.

Once home, I had a few errands to run to get ready for the weekend. I picked up a reverse osmosis water filter to install at the cottage to help with the taste and clarity of the well water. Then I got everyone packed up to go. We were on the road by 5:30 pm.

Our cottage is in Kincardine, and takes about 2 hours to get to. I say it’s the perfect distance for a weekend away.  Close enough we can get there in good time on a Friday night, and close enough to get home if we need to. We rent out our cottage most of the summer, and when we go up, it is generally for maintenance, projects, and changeovers between guests.  Our first renter of the season is on the May long weekend, and this was my last opportunity to get it ready before. We got everything opened, cleaned, aired out, and ready.

On Saturday we went to The Bruce for breakfast.  It is one of the most reasonable breakfasts in town. I went to the grocery store, and Matt installed the water filter. We now have great tasting filtered water available in a fountain at the kitchen sink.  No more water cooler and bottled water.  I made the decision to use the water filter, as we needed to replace our cooler.The price for the filter was similar and meant no more lugging bottles of water from the grocery store.

After our work for the day was done, we watched a movie before bed.

On Sunday, we went for breakfast again, then Matt took the kids out so I could clean and prep the cottage.  I finished around noon, and we left juts after 1 pm.

Arriving home means bringing all the laundry, linens, etc in the house and getting everything organized, stored, and through the wash. I started that process, then left for City Hall. I answered all of my emails and prepared for the week. My goal was to be home by 6:30 in time to cut Ben’s hair.  He is trying to grow it long enough to donate, but doesn’t like it in his eyes.  He also enjoys the sensory stimulation of the trimmers, so, we’ve settled on an undercut.  Short for the bottom half of his hair, growing the top, but trimmed around his eyes.  It doesn’t look too funny yet, but by summers end, it’s going to be something else…

I did a quick trip to the pharmacy to pick up meds ordered by the doctor last Friday for Andrew, and came home to write this blog.  So that was my weekend. Cleaning, errand running, and some relaxation.  It’s good to be home, and to be prepared for the week ahead.

So, now my reflections on the month.

Overall, I think you’ve probably gathered that I’m a goer. I hate mornings, but once I’m up, I work either for my job, for the city, or for my family until I go to bed.  I try to fit in bits of leisure and things for just me, but sometimes I forget to do it often enough. You’ve learned that I travel for work, for the city, and for board meetings and that my family is awesome at pulling through and helping when I’m away. Through this blog, you’ve learned about my family, our pets, our home, and our friends. You’ve learned a little bit about City Hall, meetings, and my schedule.

I’ve tried to be as candid as possible about my every day, while still protecting the privacy of my family to a large extent. It’s difficult for them to be in the spotlight to any extent because of my job as a city councillor.  My family is such a large part of my day, it is really impossible to tell you what I do without including them.  I have glossed over many of the details, to protect their privacy.

As a City Councillor, I am answering emails and phone calls from when I get up until I go to bed.  I engage on social media, and in the community.  There is no “off” time.  I don’t get to travel anonymously about the city.  Even when I have the flu and want to go to the drug store – I am not anonymous. I am conscious of the weight of my responsibilities, and that I represent the city to the community and the community to the city.

I love what I do, and am so honoured and humbled that I have the opportunity to do it.  It’s not a hardship, but a part of the reality of my role as a City Councillor.

 

I work 20 hours for my job every week, and I work the rest of the time for my role as a City Councillor. I start working at 8 am every day, and end around 10 or 11 pm usually. I do my council work every day – even on weekends, or when I’m away.

I carve out pieces of time for appointments for the kids, and in my leisure time, I spend it with family and friends. I don’t watch a lot of television, but I do enjoy some Netflix shows or podcasts before bed, and the odd movie with my husband.

 

I live by my calendar, and take advantage of each window of time I have to do something.  I don’t think once this month, I’ve been bored, or without a task to do.  By journaling or blogging each day, I’ve had to reflect on my accomplishments and failures each day, and that is a good thing.

When I look at this month, it really is an average month.  There are times when there are a lot of meetings, there are times when Matt or I are traveling for various things, and there are some slower times that allow me to catch up on chores etc.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this experiment, I know that I have.

 

 

 

Posted in Blog, Ward 10

What do you do? – April 27

April 27 – Rapid Transit, Euchre, Pizza Party, Middlesex Municipal Association, and suspensions. 

Thursday.  We are almost there!

As I said in a previous blog we’ve had houseguests for a few days.  They are leaving tomorrow, but we will see them again their next trip through town.

Today, started out as a normal day.  The boys went off to school, and I got to work.  Mid-morning, I received a call that Ben wasn’t doing well at school today. It’s unusual for him as he has been doing really well.  I spoke briefly with the VP, and it seemed like there was a good plan to keep him in school today.  Shortly after that, I saw a little figure dart across my front lawn and come in the front door.  It was Ben.  At the same time he came in, my phone rang that he had left school property.  I had yet to really register what was going on when the VP came to the door.  We spoke briefly, and I indicated I would try to unwind what was going on with Ben and send him back when he was coping better.

Ben and I started to talk – he indicated he wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t able to manage himself well.  He had been aggressive at school and was very embarrassed by that. We haven’t seen aggression from him in a long time, so something is going on, I am just not sure what.  There could be a new trigger in the class, or some type of overstimulation going on.  Shortly after the VP left, I received a call saying that Ben would be suspended for the day based on aggression.

I know this sounds pretty extreme – especially to parents of typically developing children, but this it is not abnormal to have suspensions with my boys.  Our goal is to keep them in school as much as possible, and the school works really well with us to mitigate the problems.  Ben has full-time EA support and many other resources at school. If he is required to leave, I require a suspension.  It is the only way to maintain and receive the resources that he requires. I spent a year with the voluntary pickups but realized quickly that to get the support he needed, I needed the documentation to make the case that he needed help.

I still don’t know what the underlying causation is here, but hopefully, we will get it sorted out.

I continued working until about 11:30. My dad was available to pick up Benjamin and take him for a few hours as I had an engagement to attend for the City.

I left the house at 11:30, and made my way to the Ilderton Community Centre to join my colleagues from around Middlesex County who had spent the morning at the Middlesex Municipal Association Annual Meeting.  I saw many colleagues from the area, and it is always nice catching up with them.

After the lunch, I picked up Ben from my dad.  He had spent time reading and being put to work while I was gone.  We went to City Hall where I had two other meetings already arranged.  I try my best not to cancel on short notice, so sometimes it means one my kids may be waiting in my office during a meeting.  Today, Ashleigh and I met for about a half-hour to review upcoming projects, and then I met with a community member who wanted to talk about banning outdoor wood burning.

I had previously at the request of community members brought forward a motion to limit back yard fires to weekends only.  This did not pass at council.  The community has continued to lobby, and are recently made delegations at a committee. The delegations were received, but no action or changes were recommended by the committee. It is very frustrating for this group of citizens, as they face health issues and have concerns about air quality.  Their arguments made sense to me when I brought forward a compromise motion last year, but there is no real appetite on council to make any changes.

I also took a call today from one of my long-time supporters and an active community member.  He wanted to talk about Rapid Transit.  While initially, he indicated he didn’t understand why the city was considering it based on what he had read/heard via the media, after we talked, he felt that it made a lot of sense.  He said, I wish you could tell everyone what you told me because I get it now.  I wish so too.  So here are some brief points about why I am supporting rapid transit.

  1. We already made the decision to do rapid transit – what is before us now is route selection.
  2. We need to think strategically and for the long term.  If we don’t change how our city develops, we will be quickly into an unaffordable/unsustainable sprawl.
  3. We are not a small city anymore.  We are almost 400,000 people and expected to reach half a million before too long.
  4. The funding from the provincial and federal government is for transit projects, we can not use it on other projects.  If we don’t use it on rapid transit, your tax dollars will still be going to rapid transit – just in other cities.
  5. We are leveraging development charge money for rapid transit with the provincial and federal funding.  If we don’t do rapid transit – we are facing 290 million dollars in infrastructure projects which will ocme from the property tax base
  6. I don’t believe RT will move everyone or even many people out of their cars.  It will for some, but more importantly, it’s about how we are going to grow – the next generation, if the infrastructure is in place are more likely to be transit users
  7. You can’t think of LTC buses now and laying rapid tranist on top of the current system.  We will need to redesign the entire system to make it work together.  All of the LTC bus routes we will no longer need, will be able to increase service in other areas
  8. Think back to major roads 30 years ago – commissioners, Southdale, wonderland, and more.  They have doubled in size.  We will be looking at the same increases in the next 30 years without changing the way we view mobility around the city.

These are just some of the pieces of information I share with people to help explain why I think rapid transit is the right thing to do if we are thinking strategically for the city.

I know, I’m going to get a flurry of emails after this blog. There are still a lot of technical questions that need to be answered.  The community still has a number of questions. Our staff – available at shift@london.ca are the best to answer technical questions.  I am not an engineer – and am not going to pretend to be or feign that I have the education or skill set to answer them. I encourage you to send your technical questions to the Shift team.  My role is the strategic vision, holding staff accountable for the expert advice they give us, and the budgets that they present.  My role is to ensure that we are mitigating concerns and that the public has an opportunity to weigh in.  I held a meeting and had shift staff come and speak to the community, and I know that they have done this is in many areas of the city to share information and answer questions.

We are changing and evolving as a city.  We are growing, and we see that in the real estate market, and anecdotally when we talk to our neighbours.  We are doing well, and increasing the number of jobs, decreasing unemployment, and incubating small and medium sized businesses into larger businesses.  We aren’t done yet, but we need to be strategic and visionary thinkers to make sure that our city prospers.  I don’t want to be a topic of discussion thirty years from now saying, why didn’t council build rapid transit when they had the opportunity and funding to do so.

I hear that now about the ring road that never will be, and about the 402 which could have gone north past the city, creating another expressway.  I believe for many reasons, that rapid transit is the right thing to do, and that it’s time to make a decision and move forward with this. I also believe that we need to listen to and stay connected to the community, to make sure that we are addressing their concerns, listening to their expertise, and adjusting as necessary.

There are things I have questions about. I will be asking those questions of staff, and listening carefully for new information and what the concerns and comments from Londoners are at the Public Participation Meeting on May 3rd.

Ok, so back to my day, after that tangent.

After my community meetings, I made my way home and ordered Pizza for dinner.  We had invited my dad and two of my nephews over, and my mom was going to stop by after she took my grandma to an appointment as well.

We had a houseful for dinner, and all the pizza was gone, I did manage to save two pieces for my mom in the oven for when she arrived.

After dinner, we watched a movie with the kids before their bedtime. Andrew chose to tell me about 5 minutes before bed he needed a costume for school tomorrow for Glee Club.  We googled 1950’s boy’s clothes, and found the closest things we had at home.  then taught Tracey how to play Euchre. She played on my team. After three rounds, she was catching on, but we lost 2-1. Everyone has gone to bed for

I ran to the post office to return my bell modem, and mail a few letters, then returned home to teach Tracey how to play Euchre. She played on my team, against Matt and Peter. After three rounds, she was catching on, but we lost 2-1. Everyone has gone to bed the night, and I am working on my blog, then going to close everything up for today.  I have a busy day tomorrow, and will catch up on my blogging on Sunday night!

 

Posted in Blog, Ward 10

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