May 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

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