The London Convention Centre was filled with more than 1300 people eager to hear Mayor Matt Brown’s plan for the city during his term.
Brown stability shone through, continuing on his promise to keep the upcoming budget at or below the rate of inflation.
The mayor also announced job creation at a number of local businesses despite his comments that “local government doesn’t create jobs.” One example being Farmboy; with two more stores opening this year, 450 jobs are created.
London startup from the 1980s, Startech.com is also adding 75 jobs in March.
Getting up to speed downtown
One of Brown’s announcements included the implementation of fiber-optic internet in the downtown.
“You’ll see it within the first half of this year. It’s a pilot project bringing high-speed fiber to the downtown,” Brown says. “It’s an affordable project.”
Perhaps the biggest splash came when Brown announced the next step of the transit system, called “Shift,” described as “a bold and important initiative for transportation for London.”
Shift looks to be a massive public participation meeting, gathering information on the need for rapid transit, the problems rapid transit can help solve, and which streets it will suit best.
The mayor is planning to start work on rapid transit during his term.
“Currently, the environmental assessment is underway. Expectations to see, in the medium term within the next four years, shovels in the ground on priority areas,” he says. “But we’re not going to wait, we’re going to introduce something called ‘RT Lite,’ and we’re seeing improvements in our bus system on major travel nodes already.”
Brown explained that the costs would be split evenly between the municipality and the provincial and federal governments.
“Estimates now are in the area of $300-million. The expectation is a program that would look at one third, one third, one third.”
When asked about the advent of high speed rail through London, Brown was open to the idea.
“We need to consider all options, we need to see what bus rapid transit would bring to the table, what light rail would offer us as we look into the future, and also consider a combination of the two.”