Tanya’s Vision For Housing

Part of my vision as mayor is for the Forest City to be a place where every Londoner has a safe place to call home. This is definitely possible, but it’s going to take investment and important policy changes.

London can be a place where all new developments must make allowances for the inclusion of affordable units. To achieve this important goal, local governments and private sector companies must find a way to work together to ensure we’re creating more affordable housing options in London. That said, this is only one piece of the work that must be done on the housing front.

Our existing stock of social housing is at a critical point. The London Middlesex Housing Corporation is facing an infrastructure deficit of $228 million. This deficit means members of our community are not living in dignified conditions. Units go without crucial repairs because there isn’t the money available to do the work. Completing these long overdue repairs, along with making necessary upgrades to these aging buildings, requires one solution — critical investment.

A more concerning problem than the need to sufficiently fund repairs to existing units is the realization this doesn’t speak to the need for new social housing. We need to build more social housing units, so we can meet the needs of individuals and families who’ve been stuck on wait lists for far too long.

The City of London alone cannot foot the bill for these necessary solutions. The solution is to secure financial assistance from not only the federal and provincial governments, but also the private sector as well.

As a council, my colleagues and I worked hard to lay the groundwork to tackle this serious issue. That said, it will take another term of council to secure the necessary funding from the upper levels of government.

I’m asking for you to support my campaign because as London’s mayor I can finish the important and necessary work needed to make sure every Londoner has a safe and dignified place to call home.

As a prominent midsize city in southwestern Ontario, London has a big responsibility to provide leadership on many fronts. This term of council laid the groundwork to creating a more regional approach to tackling many of our biggest, most difficult to issues. Cities and towns in southwestern Ontario are all trying to tackle the same issues, yet each have different skills and resources to bring to the table. Re-creating the wheel in each community keeps everyone busy, but it doesn’t actually solve the problems.

One way the community can help is through council utilizing one of the important tools, which is inclusionary zoning.

When a developer comes to the table with an application, they have to be in compliance with the zoning for a certain area. There are trade-offs that can be given to enhance the intensity of the building or other aspects through what is called bonussing. Bonusing is a trade-off where the community gets some sort of benefit from the development. Sometimes you will see bonusing for public art, bonusing for public access, bonusing for green roofs or better architecture, things like that.

When bonusing is part of the development, it is only tied to that site-specific instance. The province now allows something called inclusionary zoning in the bonusing. That means developers are now part of the solution in creating affordable housing.

We can trade off height, units per sq. hectare, all sorts of different things where proponents will basically be making affordable units within their multi-million-dollar projects. It’s another example of the future of London being about all of us together and not us and them.

Tanya’s Vision For Food Security

One of the best lessons my grandparents — all of whom lived through the Second World War and the Great Depression — taught me was, “Do the best with what you already have before you go searching for something new.”

This is a lesson that I know London could benefit from on so many different levels. We know our community faces significant challenges with food security, unemployment and income disparity. These challenges are not easy to overcome, but it is not impossible.

If we look at London, where we are geographically, we’re surrounded by some of the most prime agricultural land in all of Canada.

Farmland in Middlesex, Elgin, Oxford, Huron counties, to name a few, is where a lot of our food supply is created, yet it passes by London  and travels Hwy. 401 to the food terminal in Toronto. It’s frustrating when I go to the grocery store and know that the apples in the bin have travelled a lot more than I have the past six weeks.

When we see this lengthy and needless transport of fresh food from Windsor to Toronto  it’s just such a waste and it increases cost. I see there is a significant opportunity for local economic development and food security purposes in making London a food hub. One, because it will reduce food prices for everyone. Two, it will create jobs and help our local farmers because they won’t have to take their food as far away to get to market.

Over the past four years a lot of work has been done by the London Food Policy Council and the London Food Coalition to address human hunger and food waste in London. This work has built the foundation of what I think is an important move for our city to take, and that is for London to be a zero-waste community and the food hub for southwestern Ontario.

One of the things we know about fresh food is that once harvested, time is the enemy. So why do we let our food travel so much? How much food is wasted because a delivery truck waited in line to drop off a harvest? How much does the price of food increase because of how expensive this needless travelling is?

These are all reasons why sourcing our food from the terminal in Toronto is not helping the people who live here in southwestern Ontario.

The Forest City has many old industrial buildings, particularly in East London, which could fulfill this purpose perfectly. Historically, London was a food hub for southwestern Ontario. Farmers would bring their produce straight to market in London because they saw the need for getting it sold and on people’s plates quickly.

As mayor, I would work to create the opportunities necessary for London to become the region’s food hub and to be a zero-food waste community.   

The community came together to save food from restaurants, grocery stores, etc., before it hits the dumpster, and actually gives that food a purpose to feed people. The creation of this remedy to eliminate food waste in our community is a big step forward.

When we make London a food hub, there are all sorts of opportunities for all Londoners to be a part of the solution.

Yes, I’m Running for Mayor!

One of the things we know about London is you can sneeze in Argyle, and they’re saying “bless you” in Westmount — the rumour mill works that quickly.

So I’m setting the record straight by confirming one particular rumour, I have entered the race to be the next mayor of the City of London.

Over the last few months, I’ve been watching some of the current, mayoral campaigns.

Those campaigns — which have begun, shall we say, prematurely — are missing a lot of in terms of dialogue and perspective. I don’t see a vision; I don’t see a vision for the future of London.

Londoners deserve a clear vision. What I know is Londoners want to see leadership done differently — leadership that is people-focused and outcome-driven. Londoners want leadership that creates spaces for all under-represented people because these voices will bring forth the ideas and perspectives city hall’s leadership has never seen or heard.

Having these voices here can only help to create positive change for this stellar city.

Looking at our local economy, there is a big gap when it comes to jobs. London is home to some amazing talent. The talent in London includes people who work with their hands — blue collar families like the one I grew up in — and folks who hold degrees. And yet, neither can find meaningful work.

The job sector as we’ve known it has changed drastically. The factories opening today aren’t hiring the same numbers of people as they did in the old days. If we as a community do not find a way to adapt to the changing economy, then I fear we will never close that gap.

Standing in the London Food Incubator, for example, I see proof things can be done differently and be successful. I see how we can collaborate and innovate to do things better. I see new ways bringing benefits to so many people in so many different ways, whether its job security, education, or options around food security. And that vision is just for starters.

One of the other things I’m not seeing addressed in other platforms is a clear understanding of the transportation needs in our neighbourhoods.

We are at a point — plain and simple — where the needs of our population outweigh the capabilities of our system. The local business of public transportation needs to expand, and this expansion needs to be well thought out.

It might take 14-15 years to plan this out and so it’s a good thing the City of London began planning for this back in 2004. Some of the decisions made by former councils about growth and development are things I may never agree with. That said, I do stand behind the unanimous decision the last council made to move forward with a rapid transit plan.

In February I wrote a blog post that included a list I’d created before the 2014 municipal election. That blog included a list of what I wanted to accomplish if I was elected to represent Ward 13.

I shared that message because I wanted to acknowledge having accomplished what I had set out to do. I’m proud of my record on city council, but I know I can do more. That’s why I’ve made the decision to run for mayor of London.

Do we want London to remain the city it is today, or do we want it to be the city it can be tomorrow? Over the next few months you have the opportunity to answer that question and make a difference in both London’s today and its future.

Thank you so much.