Our Shared Responsibilities
Recently, on a trip to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, a friend remarked that he hadn’t seen such a focus on social issues from London’s city council as he had this term. I hadn’t really considered it until he pointed it out. I believe the measure of a government is in how it treats each of its citizens. It just seemed like the kind of things we were supposed to be doing rather than something that was notably increased over years past. But as I thought more about it, the more I realized that we’ve covered a lot of ground over the past three years. The thing is there’s still so much more to do.
As I write this, just last night we passed a motion asking the provincial government to increase the level of support for people on Ontario Works, we started a partnership with ANOVA to develop a five-year plan to have London declared a United Nations Women’s Safe City for the prevention of sexual violence, we endorsed the formation of the opiates working group to tackle the increasing impact of narcotics on our citizens, and we decreased the tax ratio for multi-unit residential buildings to help alleviate the disproportionate tax burden that residents in apartments experience through higher rents.
We’ve listened to the call from Londoners to make transit more affordable for those who need it most by allowing free bus rides for children 12 years of age and under and creating a new transit subsidy for those who fall below the Low Income Cut Off (LICO). We’ve invested significantly in the very successful “Bridges out of Poverty” program, put an additional $4 million into housing, developed bylaws for unregulated group homes, and adopted a “housing first” approach to supporting those who are most vulnerable in our society.
In the first 90 days of our term, we developed a council strategic plan that laid out dozens of initiatives to strengthen and ensure a diverse, inclusive and welcoming community for all who visit, settle, and live in London. We’ve made substantial progress with most of these tasks being completed or well underway.
I’ve been proud that my colleagues on council and in our civic administration have made such a conscious effort to put people first, but policies can only reach so far. Where the rubber hits the road is how we, as Londoners, treat each other every day. One thing that seems to show this and really gives me great pride in representing our community is walking through Old South and seeing countless lawn signs written in three languages that say, “No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbour.” Beyond just signs, I see friendliness and genuine compassion from so many of you each day. So, keep up the good work, everyone. I’m glad you’re my neighbours, too.