Response to London Chamber CEO Gerry Macartney’s Blog

I must admit my first response when I read Mr. Macartney’s blog was “Who wrote this”? The style, political commentary, factual errors, had me shaking my head. Nevertheless, it was posted and warrants a response.

  • The Sun Life Application. Council did not refuse Sun Life’s application. We unanimously approved to trade a city-owned property on airport road within the Urban Growth Boundary for the land optioned by Sun Life outside UGB. Following the market crash in October 2008 the Manager of Planning received an email from Sun Life which stated that, “under these much changed economic circumstances, it would not be prudent to continue with this project.” (staff report: agenda item #20).
  • Sysco to Woodstock. Sysco needed a level site. Our only suitable site required a few million dollars to complete this work. Had the city done so it would have been a violation of the Municipal Act which does not allow “bonusing” for private interests.
  • Investment along the 401. Council has agreed to new investments along the 401 corridor for future wealth and job creation for industrial but not for residential, institutional or commercial. We have a massive amount of vacant commercial space where services and infrastructure are already in place. You cannot equate a comprehensive Industrial Land Strategy with this application.
  • The Woodland. The actual number of trees is not 1600. A number slightly larger than that is for a specific size of tree (15 cm diameter) and does not represent all the trees in the woodland. With respect to possible ash and elm dieback, every woodland has species that die as a result of disease or infestation. As dynamic ecosystems the understory within a forest quickly replaces the dieback. Let’s not marginalize a woodland declared “significant” which is suppose to be protected under the Provincial Policy Statements.
  • The Wetland. To suggest there is no wetland as defined by the Ministry of Natural Resources is incorrect. MNR provided mapping and correspondence indicating it will not accept the wetland evaluation completed by the developer’s ecologist.
  • Transportation. Public Transit runs to Wellington and Roxbourgh only during rush hour (early morning and late afternoon). There is no evening and weekend service.
  • Jobs. As staff quite rightly advised Planning Committee, to trumpet job numbers is a “red herring”. To suggest this development will not “poach” existing retail denies the actual experience in London, the history of the downtown being the most glaring example.  If you have been in Westmount Mall, Pond Mills Centre, Crossing Centre the stagnation is obvious, not to mention the thousands of square feet of vacant commercial space with services at the doorstep.
  • Politics. What is extraordinarily disconcerting is the “political” push to incite councillors. I agree completely that this decision is one in which the public must remember how each councillor voted. If there is to be any trust in planning policies and ultimately planning decisions, we must ensure there is integrity in the process. To by-pass Official Plan policies, significant woodland guidelines, Environmental Impact Studies, and Provincial Policy Statements, sends a message that processes can be manipulated and sidestepped by those in positions of power.
  • London’s future. A retail centre does not define London. There are many exciting economic initiatives in London from Fraunhoefer Composite Research Facility, the new Fanshawe School for Performing Arts and Digital Media, Medical Innovation strategy, Western University’s game-changing cognitive neuroscience imaging research, Western’s Job Shadowing program, the making of the movie Luminality, tremendous opportunities for brownfield redevelopment …and much more.

5 thoughts on “Response to London Chamber CEO Gerry Macartney’s Blog

  1. Thank you Joni for a clear, comprehensive and insightful response to the issues in council’s rush to acept an offer– any offer– with certain magic phrases attached, no matter what. My own hope is that this city will find some green industry to adopt. That is the kind of leading edge we should be looking for.

  2. Very compelling rebuttal Joni. As usual, you seem to have a good command of facts. What I find totall amazing is the fact that everyone is all wound up about these new jobs….notwithstanding the fact that there will inevitably be SOME fall-off elsewhere. But those same people are completely silent on the biggest single job-killer in our Province (many of those in Southwestern Ontario)…..the abrubt and ill-advised cancellation of the “Slots @ Racetracks” Program by the McGuinty Government! Media reports surrounding that cancellation seem unanimous in their estimates that 25-50,000 jobs will ultimately be lost Province-wide…….to say nothing about the death of another Ontario industry, horse racing and breeding; and the impact on the way of life in much of Rural Ontario. That’s 25-50,000 jobs…..ultimately gone. Even if it turns out to be only 20,000 jobs……that completely dwarfs the handful of jobs that have everyone worked up. Yet the Slots @ Racetracks cancellation proceeds with no media scrutiny and objection…….perhaps because it’s only a “Rural Issue”? Much is wrong with this picture.

  3. Excellent Joni, as usual you have to keep this egoistical pundit straight.
    Thanks you did that very beautifully.

  4. Thanks for that Joni. Nice to know that this city has at least one member of council who has some common sense and is able to get it right. I am still hopeful that the city will attract that food distribution centre that was talked about some time ago and Wellington and the 401, without the destruction of habitat would be an excellent place for that. If

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