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!

 

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