Winter, the budget, food trucks, and community

Dear friends,

February has been an exciting and productive month for myself and Ward 10!  This month, I have attended a number of events, including St. Jude’s Parent Council as well as a number of one on one meetings with constituents.  I have appreciated the opportunity to hear your thoughts on a number of key issues affecting Ward 10 and the City including the 2015 Budget and the Shift Rapid Transit Plan.  Your input has better equipped me to make important decisions on your behalf.  

Although February is drawing to a close, winter isn’t over yet and there are still ways to make the most of the cold weather.  One way is to enjoy the free outdoor ice rink at St. Jude, available for public use after school hours!

On that note, we have had a number of treacherous winter days this month, with extreme cold alerts and significant snowfalls.  Snow removal can be an arduous task, but it will be easier if we help each other.  I encourage you to help out your neighbours with snow removal when you can, especially if they are elderly and/or disabled.

As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, the first Ward 10 meeting has been scheduled for March 4 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Westmount Public School.  Mayor Brown and I would like the opportunity to answer your questions and provide information about upcoming items before Council.  As a reminder, this event will be an informal discussion and opportunity to hear from you.  Please register by clicking here so that I can make the appropriate setup.  I’m very excited to meet with the community and discuss issues that matter to all of us.

Last week, at the Community and Protective Services (CAPS) meeting, I spoke to food the issue of food trucks.  The recommendation was resurrected with thanks to Councillor Morgan (Ward 7) and Mayor Brown.  This is an example of where London is lagging behind other communities.  I was pleased to be able to move this forward and relax some of the rules that were in the recommendations.  One of the significant changes I led was the removal of GPS tracking on food trucks.  In a meeting with our By Law Enforcement office, I learned that breaches of the bylaws can still be reported from citizens and businesses, and dealt with accordingly. With this in mind the idea of constant monitoring abilities seemed too far reaching for me. For too long we have heard that London is a hard city to do business in.  There are adages about “Red Tape” and overly complex processes.  Removing some of these barriers begins to shift the perception of London.  We are open for business and want to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and business opportunities. When this bylaw amendment went to the Council Meeting on Tuesday night, it unanimously passed. London will be piloting the food truck program in the near future, and will review in the fall.

Also over the past month we have moved through the strategic planning process.  A new vision statement was decided on: “A leader in commerce, culture and innovation – the region’s connection to the world.”  Many Londoners weighed in on the strategic plan, via twitter, phone calls, and emails.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the plan and your vision for London.

Looking ahead, I will be working on a campaign to get more children walking to school this spring.  Walking to school is an excellent way for children to get active and is a healthy start to their day. One of the main benefits is increased safety, and less cars in front of the school and along the way. The more children who walk, the safer all the children are. Something as simple as encouraging children to walk to school is also a great way to instill them with healthy lifestyle choices!   Watch for details of the campaign at the end of March.  Another initiative that I will be working on is the implementation of policy changes – decreasing speed limits in school zones; if you have feedback on this, please let me know.

As always, please feel free to share your opinion or ask questions about a specific issue at any time via e-mail or phone.
Virginia Ridley

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