As part of the Health Centre’s Municipal Election strategy, we asked community program and focus group participants to express their concerns or issues as residents of London. The top themes that arose from these twelve groups with over 140 constituents included transportation, housing, and employment.
Candidates running for City Council in Wards 3 and 4 were sent a list of community concerns and questions, and were asked to respond according to their priorities. We invite you to read this document to see how candidates responded.
Community Concerns: Transportation
- Bus passes and adult tickets are too expensive
- Specialized transit and buses are often late and not on schedule
- The bus stops are never cleared in the winter
- LTC turnover, mean and short tempered drivers
- Bus hours do not accommodate life demands, juggling family life
- Construction causes difficult commutes
- Trains run through the City during rush hour
- Sidewalks not maintained
- Buses don’t travel to industrial parks where the new jobs are located
What are your top priorities for addressing TRANSPORTATION concerns in London?
Tricia Lystar: I think we need to look to innovation and explore ideas from other municipalities, which have proven success and increased ridership to ease the burden of funding by the city. Even something as simple as a pilot to explore heating in & around shelters in attempt to offset road and sidewalk clearing costs could be a potential start. I believe that working with the LTC board is a first step to combating some of these problems, in particular the constant issues with staff (leaves of absence, attitude towards management, etc). I will support expanding transit routes to areas of the city where service doesn’t currently exist and working within the budget towards allocating additional funds for road services where possible. In order for London to have transit that works for everyone, we must solve the issues of our railroad crossings on Richmond (as well as the already approved Adelaide St underpass).
Xuemei Jiang: Stop BRT
- Not enough ridership. Public transit riders decline year after year.
- Not enough funds. Both Federal and Provincial governments are currently under significant budget pressures and City of London cannot develop a compelling business case to secure their support.
- It is not that “rapid”. Citywide, the average time that will be saved is 4 minutes for average travel time.
Jesse Helmer: One top transportation priority is to follow through with Rapid Transit. It addresses many issues raised by the community, including in the following ways:
- making transit more reliable for all, so fewer people are left waiting or left behind, which can be particularly problematic for people with mobility issues;
- new Transit Hub shelters along BRT route will provide better lighting and more space for public transit users, and I’ll work with the city to improve snow clearing response time. We’ve already upgraded 300+ bus shelters (40 in Ward 4) to improve comfort and add solar-powered lighting;
- increased service hours and frequency for routes across the city will build on the 12% increase of the past four years, and will extend service earlier in the morning, later in the evening, and on Sundays on many routes. I’ll continue to push for routes to go further, start earlier, and run later with more frequency.
Other transportation-related priorities are to
- move forward with electric buses on the BRT and possibly all buses;
- expand improvements to specialized transit, where we’ve added 33% more service hours since 2014 as well as lengthened the call queue for booking;
- move forward with the construction of the Adelaide Street underpass in 2021, ten years earlier than previously scheduled;
- continue to add sidewalks to more streets through the Annual Warranted Sidewalk Program funding, which I successfully advocated to be significantly increased;
- continue to look for ways to bring down the cost of public transit as we did by introducing free transit for kids 12 and under, a discounted youth pass, and an income-based discounted pass that is now accessed by more than 1500 Londoners;
- continue to listen and push for a more effective public transit system for Ward 4 and London;
- keep pushing forward on infrastructure investments that are long overdue in Ward 4 and beyond, and working to make sure that residents are in the loop on future plans for these much-needed repairs.
Connor Garrett: I believe that the whole LTC needs to be revamped. For starters in my mind there should not be different Saturday and Sunday times. One of the main priorities should be to get buses to anywhere in London where there are jobs, especially the industrial parks. Even if we have the buses going to the industrial parks, it won’t really help if the buses don’t run earlier, buses should start their routes at 4am so people whose jobs that start early in the morning such as 6am can get to work.
Mohamed Salih: My priorities are making transit more affordable, ensuring better service hours and improving the level of customer service.
Community Concerns: Housing
- Rent increases but OW/ODSP income doesn’t
- Lack of available affordable and supportive housing options
- Affordable housing buildings are old, dirty and falling apart
- It is difficult to find housing when one has a mental illness or drug addictions – property owners are judgmental and discriminatory
- Hydro rates are too high
- Homelessness in London is on the rise
What are your top priorities for addressing HOUSING concerns for the most vulnerable in our community?
Tricia Lystar: Affordable housing is a key issue in my platform. London needs more of it. We need to use inclusionary zoning with all new buildings and ensure that each build has affordable units within. We also need to look into supporting community co-ops and be open to exploring new ideas presented to us by the various community groups who work so tirelessly with vulnerable Londoners. The LMHC buildings need retrofitting immediately. The conditions of many buildings along with unaffordable electric heat need to be addressed by the incoming council. We need to look into creating more supportive buildings like that on William St to shorten the length of time one needs to find and secure safe and supportive housing. Examining other cities methods at tackling their rising homeless as well as consulting with the community groups who work with the homeless can give us insight on how we can best start to solve the homeless crisis in our city.
Xuemei Jiang: Shelter is a basic human right. I need to do more search to answer this question about housing. I have never dealt with this issue before.
Jesse Helmer: I will continue to support the measures to end homelessness recommended by the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty. This panel provides a groundwork for further initiatives I’ve started.
- Approve more affordable housing throughout the city and require developers to make a portion of newly-built homes affordable with inclusionary zoning;
- Invest in our existing social housing buildings and properties to make them better for residents;
- Continue to make property taxes fairer for residents, no matter what kind of home they live in, just as I did in my first term by proposing a tax rate reduction for renters that resulted in more than 900 rent reduction in Ward 4 alone;
- Continue to support a housing-first approach, including measures like rent supplements, and providing supportive services to those who need them;
- Continue to improve affordability of other costs of living such as transportation, as we’ve done by introducing an income-based discounted bus pass and free transit for kids.
Connor Garrett: The priority in my opinion is affordable housing, no one in this day and age should have to choose between basic necessities especially if they have a family. I believe that developers should be given a tax incentive if they build affordable housing units, this way they will also be able to afford to upkeep them. I also think the idea to make all developers have a portion of their units be affordable housing will push developers away from London. The other major issue is the homelessness in London. There should be a temporary housing system where people can go to live and get aid in finding a job so they can eventually move out into their own homes.
Mohamed Salih: My priority is ensuring residents have access to safe, affordable and liveable housing. I plan to continue advocating on different levels of government for the resources needed to work towards achieving this aim. We can also play our part locally by funding the areas where we have a responsibility to provide affordable housing for residents.
Community Concerns: Employment
- Too many businesses closing
- Lack of labour market opportunities
- Not enough low-cost education and training programs
- Not enough opportunities for internships with employers
- Employment barriers for: those who have lost jobs, older adults, newcomers
What are your top priorities for addressing EMPLOYMENT concerns for those who are unemployed or under-employed in London?
Tricia Lystar: The new Ontario labour laws have been challenging for small business owners, which drive a large portion of our local economy. I support the increase in benefits as well as minimum wage and hope to see regular increases from the province reflecting this annually. I have always been a key supporter of employment programs such as those offered through LEADS or the YMCA as a starting point, but I realize that there are always barriers faced by others that can’t be solved with traditional methods. I hope that we can work with the province to find funding for more programming and services to aid in education and training and work with community partners such as the Cross Cultural Learner Centre to identify opportunities for newcomers to our city. I will always be available to support constituents in my ward in whatever ways they request it and will work hard to aid them in finding solutions to employment issues they face.
Xuemei Jiang: I came from China, I will try to create job by:
- Attracting more Chinese tourists to City of London
- Attracting more students from China, South Korea and India to City of London. Last year, international students in Canada spent around $15 billion on tuition, accommodation and other spending.
Jesse Helmer: The implementation of recommendations from the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty, and the Community, Diversity and Inclusion strategy which included but was not limited to the following:
- Support measures to remove barriers to employment that are recommended in the Community Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, both by ensuring they are implemented internally at the City of London and promoting them in the broader community;
- Collaborate with London employers to close the wage gap for Indigenous peoples, women, LGBTQ, differently abled, and racialized communities, as recommended by the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty.
- Continue to support a collaborative approach to economic development in our community that brings together key stakeholders to form and implement strategies that make London a better place to start and grow companies across many industries.
- Partner with the LTC and with cab and ridesharing companies to provide better transportation service to industrial areas. This is already in the works and could begin in 2019.
Connor Garrett: London should be helping small businesses start in the city instead of focusing so much on the larger chains. But an increase in affordable housing would help with most of these problems, right now people can’t afford to pay for schooling and general life needs at the same time. Increasing the amount of affordable housing would mean people would have to spend less for necessities, which would mean they would have more to spend on schooling.
Mohamed Salih: My priority is continuing to work with industry leaders in order to remove the barriers in the way of business success and business growth. I plan to continue advocating for more business opportunities for small and large business in our city.
No responses from Stephen Orser, Ward 4, or Harry Prince, Ward 3.
With any questions about voting in the upcoming municipal election on Oct 22 (identification requirements, transportation supports, polling stations, ranked ballot voting, etc) please contact Shelly 519-660-0875 ext 254.