What do you do? April 5th edition

Today is Wednesday, April 5th.  Today was a pretty relaxed day – a little less work than average. Thank goodness I have a reminder in my calendar to blog each night, otherwise tonight I might have forgotten.

After last night’s blog, I received a text from Councillor Morgan saying – “Hey – why didn’t our conversation make the cut?” I explained that it had, I just hadn’t said that it was him – so to rectify the situation I will let you know that the colleague I chatted with before council last night was Councillor Morgan.  We chatted about our weekend, about our families and general chit chat – surrounded by star wars figures in his office.  (Now I expect a text from him tonight or tomorrow saying I’ve said too much… yes… he has start wars figures in his office).

I got both boys out the door on time and worked on a project for a few hours in the morning.  Without any deadlines today, I decided I would have a more relaxed pace for the day.  I met with a constituent around lunch time and talked about bylaws.

I received a call from one of the radio stations about red light cameras – although I tried to refer them to the committee chair, I did offer a few comments. I’m not sure if my comments made it on the air, but my message basically was: this is a safety and enforcement tool, and my hope is that all drivers are driving with courtesy, sharing the road and reminded about safety.  Be aware that the cameras are there, and adjust your driving accordingly.

Shortly after that interview, I made my way to the resident that wanted to go for a walk and discuss the South West Optimist Park.  On the way, I was able to drop off a few items at the dry cleaners. I arrived to meet with my constituent and we began our walk around the park.  He identified a number of concerns, including the updates to the ball diamonds that were not quite done, finding drug paraphernalia, graffiti and broken fences and safety features.  Some of the concerns I was already aware of and have been communicating with staff on, other concerns were new.

We made a plan to organize a community clean up of South West Optimist Park on Sunday, April 23rd at 11 am (volunteers welcome!), and for me to action the items to staff that needed to be actioned from that side.  We strolled around and chatted about family and community for about a half an hour before we parted.  He is going to try to recruit some neighbours to assist in the community clean up and I am going to likewise recruit some others to join us.  Many hands make for light work, so if you’re free – we will be there and all the supplies for the clean up will be too!

I spent some time emailing and calling different staff today on various issues that have come up – including some of the urgent issues identified in our park walk about. I connected with our government relations staff about the Prime Minister’s visit – it seemed that although there was a media (read: photo-op) opportunity, that this was private tour – so unless I wanted in on the photo op, no real opportunity for me to attend.  C’est la vie.  It would have been nice to take one of the boys to.

Can we talk photo-ops here? Is this something I should do more of to show that I’m “out and about” in the community? I have not made it to a lot of these events due to other conflicts lately, and I’m not sure if it’s an important part of my role as perceived by the community.  I would much rather be out walking in the park with neighbours, or returning calls and emails – but perhaps I need to do a little more? Let me know!

My next stop was to follow up with another constituent who had reported poor street drainage this winter.  After checking my curbs and gutters – the conditions were exactly right to check out their issue.  There was enough dampness in my streets gutters, that I knew there should be similar dampness there, and not puddling.  I arrived on the street and noticed definite puddling.  When I got out to investigate, I looked for a source of the puddling.  Surely there couldn’t just be pools of stagnant water.  Although the gutter was about a half inch higher than the asphalt, there was moving water. After a quick examination, I found the source.  This was not so much a  street design or damage issue – more of a sump pump draining to the curb issue.

Basement flooding and drainage – I’m getting pretty well versed in this topic because of the number of issues we’ve had in Ward 10.  So your sump pump should drain into your yard – and not on the road.  Some people in the past have had them drain into the road – which causes some icing and water issues such as we see here.  So – to resolve the resident’s issue, it’s actually going to fall back on him to change the drainage of the sump pump discharge.  Now – this could be a big expense.  The city actually has a grant program which will help with some of the expenses to tie this into the city’s storm sewer. The grant currently only covers about 60 % of the costs, however, Councillor Helmer and I were recently successful in presenting a change to this – once the bylaw amendments come forward, and should they pass, the grant will cover 90% of eligible costs.  If you want more information on the basement flooding grant program, it is available here.

I knocked on the constituents door, but they were not home – this is now on my follow up list for later.

I was home in time to make dinner for the kids tonight, which was good because although Matt was due home at 5 – he ended up working late, and babysitters had to leave. That’s not entirely accurate. I have one babysitter for one of the boys, and the youngest has a Child and Youth Worker respite worker.  To call him a babysitter would undermine the work he does with my son.  He provides coaching and assistance to help him to be successful.

During the early evening, I worked from home, answering emails, and having a few conversations about rapid transit with Londoners.  It is a popular topic right now, and I am continuing to try to provide information to those who are engaging with me about it.

I received a request a text message from another resident today.  A grade six student we mutually know in the ward wanted to invite me to speak to the class.  This is something I am asked to do from time to time, and another one of my favourite activities! I readily agree to be contacted by the classroom teacher to set up a time to go in.

I worked until about 8 pm tonight, between phone calls and emails, then enjoyed a coffee with a good friend until my calendar reminded me it was time to blog my day, and here we are – it’s 11:00 pm. Once I do a quick edit of this blog, I’m going to call it a night! Tomorrow I will be working at home, meeting with a constituent and attending the first meeting of the new Governance Working Group – one of my favourite committees. Friday, I will be traveling to Ottawa on the 6:30 am (what was I thinking) train for the day.

So there you have it.  Another day in the life of the Ward 10 City Councillor.

I’ve committed to continue this blog for the month, I’m not sure if anyone is reading it – and if you are, if it’s of any interest to you. Even if no one is following, I will do it for the month – but if you are reading along, let me know either by liking the post or by sharing it.  My goal, as always is community engagement.  Taking some of the mystery out of what the role of City Councillor is, and helping people to understand what I do in the community.  I’ve heard it described many ways – I think the mayor jokes that he is the head of the City of London complaints department – I see it as service to the community, and to be honest, most days, I don’t know that I see it as work.  I started this blog by saying it was a pretty relaxed day, but as I review what I did today, I could have framed it differently.  I could have said that I had 2 constituent meetings, 1 media interview, 12 phone calls, 2 site investigations, a number of email correspondences.

I could have said that I worked for 12 hours today – but it doesn’t feel like work.  It felt like any other day, getting things done, and loving what I do. There is no “job” like this, and it is an amazing opportunity that I am so thankful to the people of Ward 10 for.

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