The London Civic Works Committee met with city councilors to discuss the upcoming plans for London. On the agenda were many topics such as bridge restoration, sewer private drain connection policies, and potential savings in consultant costs. The more important and in-depth discussed topics, however, were the cities plans for introducing bike lanes, the safety of school zones in regard to a sidewalk connectivity plan, and the vote to implement the long-awaited green bin initiative.
One of the more personal aspects of the meeting came when the vice-principle of Byron Southwest Elementary School spoke up about the need for pedestrian safety around her school. A. Gilbert brought up the city’s proposed sidewalk connectivity plan and urged for them to start it ASAP. She says “if you have ever tried to navigate the roads and sidewalks around Byron at 8:00 am or 3:00 pm it is near impossible to do safely.” She read a note from a children’s book that explained how cities are like ecosystems; everything functions cohesively together, not separately, meaning that for children to feel safe coming to school, the sidewalks and roads need to be safe. The committee acknowledged her statements and said the plans will be underway soon. Councilor Anna Hopkins and Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert were quick to agree with Gilbert saying that the community cares about the safety of its members. Deputy Mayor Hubert even stated how important this plan is because when we fix things like roads and sidewalks “we are just not fixing roads and sidewalks, we are fixing a community.”
“When we fix things like roads and sidewalks, we are not just fixing roads and sidewalks, we are fixing a community”
– Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert
Perhaps one of the most intense conversations of the meeting came from Councilor Phil Squire who brought up his concerns with the city’s plans for the downtown King Street cycling improvements. Committee members stated that the city would be investing upwards of 500-thousand dollars to install bike lanes on the busy downtown street. Councilor Squire brought up a number of issues with this plan starting with the fact that King Street is arguably the busiest street in London and another street would have been a better choice. Committee members replied by saying they looked at surrounding streets such as York street but found too many complications revolving around sewers.
Councilor Squire then raised the question of why these bike lanes are even necessary when they are clearly going to interfere with the cities BRT plans. He said that they are going to be in place for two-three years maximum and then be taken away making this a completely economically inefficient plan. He further said how it will inconvenience cyclists as they will become reliant on these bike lanes for their everyday lives and then have them taken away–forcing them to find a new way to get to work, etc. Committee members essentially replied by saying that they understand the issues and acknowledge that the lanes will be torn down during the BRT production, but the bike lanes will ultimately provide cyclists an easier route, therefore making it worth it, regardless of if they or temporary.
One of the largest takeaways however from this meeting was that the council members voted to implement the usage of curbside green bins in London homes. The initiative is set to begin in 2021 and if possible sooner as London is the only major city in Ontario without the use of these bins.
The meeting was conducted in City Hall on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, and many members of the public turned up to show their interest. For access to the live tweets released during the meeting please click the link below.