Posts Tagged ‘contributor’

Colour Coded Restaurant Inspections

October 19, 2008

I had the opportunity over the past couple of months to participate in a number of focus groups developed on for the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) in order to get public input on the new system for identifying the cleanliness of restaurants in the MLHU jurisdiction.

Just this past week it was made public (in the London Free Press) that the MLHU would be requiring restaurants to post their inspection reports for public viewing.  Paired with a colour-coded system that alerts consumers to the cleanliness of a given establishment this initiative will bring London (and area) based restaurants up to a certain standard held in many cities in the region.

Although I fully believe that this is a step in the right direction I think that the MLHU is not taking the right approach to the issue of cleanliness in food service establishments.

Through sitting in and contributing to the focus groups that the MLHU held and experiencing the systems in places in such cities as Toronto I think that the MLHU’s approach to implementing a system here in London is not good enough as it allows for too many “unknowns” and interpretation of meanings.

With this new system, colours are associated with the cleanliness of an establishment.  Green indicates that everything (or almost everything) is ok, Red indicates that there have been severe infractions and that the establishment has been closed.  Then there is the Yellow indicator.

This is where the problem lies with me.  Yellow indicates a “conditional pass” which means “non-critical violations” have been identified, are not a health risk and must be remedied.  In my eyes a place is either clean or it isn’t and in the end it should either be open or not.

I know that we live in a world where everything is not black and white and there are grey areas everywhere we look, but when it comes to what I am eating I don’t want there to be any guess work that I have to do.

If I were to see a Yellow sign, marking a conditional pass, I begin to wonder what was the threshold the health examiner used when evaluating this establishment.  I fully understand that there are certain criteria that need to be met, but I begin to worry when an establishment is on the borderline of those criteria, teetering between the colors Yellow and Red.

When it comes to the safety of what I am eating I do not want to have to do reading in order to evaluate whether or not the establishment I am at is up to my standards, I just want to know if it is clean or not.

Chances are if an establishment is getting a “conditional pass” there are other things that need remediation that the inspector missed finding, many of these “other things” can be, and probably are more important and detrimental to the health of the consumers.

I honestly hope that this system, after it has been in place for some time, gets re-evaluated with input once again from the public to see if the system currently proposed is truly the best way to educate and inform consumers.  For now I guess I will have to live with the system that has been chosen and praise it as a beginning step in the right direction.

Lost Soul Stroll

October 14, 2008

I had the opportunity two weekends ago to attend this year’s production of the Lost Soul Stroll.  For those of you who aren’t aware of what the Lost Stroll consists of I suggest you take a look at either my previous post titled  Weekend Events or the official Lost Soul Stroll website.

Having attended the last couple years of the Stroll I was eagerly awaiting this year’s installment and when it was all said and done I was not disappointed one bit.

This year’s production saw the return of a number of memorable characters and the introduction of others that added interesting new story lines and conversations to all portions of the Stroll.

The new departure point, route, characters and stories all helped to keep things fresh for those who have attended the Stroll before while at the same time keeping those new to the audience entertained with an evening full of stories and “adventures”.

As I have said before I would urge anyone looking for an “alternative” form of theatre and entertainment to consider attending one of the shows being offered throughout the month of October.  This is an event that in my honest opinion has the ability to provide entertainment to those from all walks of life and is something that I think all in the City of London would enjoy.

Pro-Pedestrian Not Anti-Car

October 2, 2008

Transportation Hierarchy The comment was made the other week that I was thought to be anti-Car. Although this did not offend me in any way and I respect the person’s opinion that made it, I thought it would be appropriate to clear up this misconception.

I can fully understand why some might think that I am anti-Car, based on the words I write and the opinions I express, but this is the farthest thing from the truth.

It’s not so much that I’m anti-car, because that’s not the case, it’s that I’m pro-pedestrian and pro-public transit and as much as some may want to argue, you can pro-pedestrian and not anti-car (pro-car) at the same time.

I will be the first to admit that we live in a car culture and to deny that the car is essential to everyday business, economics and society is essentially a denial that the industrial revolution was un-essential in developing the modern world we live in.

The automobile is essential in transporting goods, services, people; it is essential. The car isn’t going anywhere and those who wish it to are hopeless radicals that live in a fantasy world.

Since the car isn’t going anywhere, as it is essential, we as society need to better understand its role and purpose and make according changes as a result.

This is where my pro-pedestrian and public transit views come into place.

Although the car is essential in today’s society, it is not the priority and it should not be treated as such. The pedestrian has been around much longer than the automobile and therefore should be given more respect and privileges, as without the pedestrian we would not even have automobiles.

The car and the pedestrian can live in harmony, and so can those defending and living on both sides of the coin. This is something I strongly believe. However, the roles, rules, responsibilities and privileges surrounding both of these entities must be clearly defined.

I do have a car and I do drive it.,However, I choose to drive it only at certain times when other means of transportation may not be best suited. Yes this is a luxury that I have and even if I choose not to use it I still have it at my disposal.

With that said, when I choose to drive I respect the pedestrians out there because in most cases they deserve it and I fully understand where the hierarchy lies (or should lie) in the reality of things.

I hope this helps (at least a bit) to clear up any misconception that I may have un-intentionally put forth through my writings here. When it comes to the car and the pedestrian I live on both sides of the coin. I have a car, I use it, but I also choose to walk and take the public transit.

So although it may seem that I am one-sided many of the times when this debate arises, I think it is a more than justified and educated standpoint as I do (on a daily basis) live on both sides of the coin, but by no means am I saying it has to be one way or the other.

Weekend Events

September 17, 2008

For those of you who are looking for something to do this coming weekend in London, Ontario I have a couple of suggestions that I think you will like.

LOLA Fest.

London Ontario Live Arts Festival (LOLA) is taking place this weekend from Thursday the 18th until Saturday the 21st. LOLA has been happening for a number of years now and it provides a stage (many stages in fact) for both musical and visual art acts to get exposure in London, Ontario.

Attending some of last years events gave me the opportunity to be introduced to a number of new independent and Canadian acts that I would never have heard of otherwise, and this year I hope to have the same experience.

Using Victoria Park as the main stage there are a number of different venues throughout the downtown core where both the musical and visual art performances/displays can b seen. For a full listing of the events and locations please check out the LOLA-fest website where there is a map outlining the details.

Personally I hope to check out some of the visual arts exhibits as I did not have the opportunity to do so last year and of course I will be checking out some of the live music as well.

Doors Open London

Have you ever wanted to check out the inside of one of the memorable buildings in London, to see what’s inside and to learn its history but have never had the opportunity to do so? If so that feeling of longing can be fulfilled this weekend with the annual Doors Open London event.

Part of a much larger Provincial program, Doors Open London offers those that live in the city (and visitors alike) to visit many historically significant buildings, museums and other locations in London completely free of charge.

Locations stretch all across the city and include places such as: One London Place, London Transit, Fanshawe Pioneer Village, The Secrets of Radar Museum, just to name a few. As I mentioned all of these “venues” are offering free admission (which many do throughout the year as well) and the LTC even has a discounted bus rate for this weekend.

Lost Soul Stroll

This event, held in conjunction with the above mentioned Doors Open offers a combination of physical exercise (walking), theatre and local history. Running Thursday-Saturday nights in October, this walking theatre show offers those who attend a delightful opportunity to experience the city, learn of some local history and have a laugh or two while in the process.

I have been on this Stroll the past couple of years and I already have my tickets for this year. With an affordable price tag ($20) this offers people of all ages good entertainment in a non-formal setting.

I urge those of you who have never experienced it before, or those of you (like myself) who denounce the theatre to check this out; I have no doubt that you will enjoy it.

Tickets for the Lost Soul Stroll are available at London Fringe (the website states that they are being sold at The Grand Theatre but this has been changed)

LTC: Equality and the Bus

September 10, 2008

Wheels on the Bus

Correction posted 2008/09/10 @ 6:15pm EDT. Please be advised that this article is not current. It was originally published on the author’s site in January of 2007. FMBS regrets the error and apologizes for it.

I take the LTC on a daily basis in this city, I use it go everywhere; work, school, play. There are days when I have good experiences, days when I have bad, but overall I like to think that the positives out-weigh the negatives. Today, on the other hand, a single negative was so overwhelming that it has clouded the vast amount of positives I know about the LTC.

I think it’s appropriate for me first to state that I am all for the public transit system here in London and in any city across the globe. I think it’s essential in a properly functioning city and it is one of the mandatory pieces of infrastructure that cities should not neglect. I believe that the bus system should be accessible to the entire population, regardless of age, sex, social status or any handicap that they may have. I believe that having a transit fleet that is fully accessible is essential and I think that London having 95 % (or so) of its buses this way is a step in the right direction.

When someone needs a seat because they are of an older generation, pregnant, with small children (strollers exempt from this example) or have some form of disability I will be the first one to get up out of my seat. I sit at work 90% of the day so I honestly don’t mind standing on the bus for a relatively short period of time. I have no problem with this what-so-ever.

What I do have a problem with is when I am kicked off of a city bus for no ‘good’ reason. This is where my anger lies today.

I hopped on the bus in the morning as I always do, catching it to go to work or school (in this case work). I made my single transfer and was on my second bus of the day (2 Dundas Route). I was standing up on the bus near the front where the accessible seating is located. The seats were folded up as they had just been in use and I don’t bother to put them down until someone needs them. Perhaps 20 minutes or so had passed and by this time it was packed with people, mainly students as I was heading to work. Suddenly as of out of nowhere I found myself standing on the curb with the bus driving away from me long before I had made it to my destination and long before I had intended on getting off the bus. What happened?

I had gotten on well before anyone else had, but the entire time I had been standing. As with many bus routes in London during the school year, the bus was full to the brim and had no more room. Everyone on the bus had moved to the back and we couldn’t fit another soul on the bus. The only time the bus would stop is if someone were to request a stop. With that said, the bus had no choice but to pass those people waiting at bus stops and leave them to catch the next bus going in the same direction

The bus driver had not made a single stop as no one had requested one, and then out of no-where he made a stop for a single person waiting at a bus stop.

This person was in a wheel chair.

(The fact that this person was in a wheel chair is not the issue here. The person could have been someone with a stroller, a pile of groceries, a Seeing Eye dog or a person of generous proportions; it’s the principal behind things that matters most here.)

I began to think to myself; “where is this person going to fit on the bus”, its was apparent to me that there was no room for anyone else to stand, let along a wheel chair and the space it takes up, but apparently there was a solution to this problem that I was not aware of. Not 2 minutes later I found myself standing on the curb with 6 other people, most of who were on the bus as long as I had been, and we were watching the bus drive away from us. We were nowhere near our destination and had to wait another 20 minutes for a bus.

What were the implications for me that day? I was 20 minutes late for all of my meetings and engagements for the remainder of the day but things are far more serious than how I was directly affected.

The rational, discretion and responsibility of the LTC in regards to this situation is apparently beyond my scope of comprehension. I honestly cannot understand how the LTC (or that particular driver) can justify kicking 6 people off the bus to fit a single person on the bus. The bus clearly had no more room and denied many people previously the chance at a bus ride (leaving them at their stops), so why was this person and this situation any different?

All people under Canadian law are equal regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, mental or physical disabilities, so I wonder how this situation is in any way above the law. Why should one person be given preference over 6 other people, why is one person more important and entitled to more services that those that live side by side in society with them?

Perhaps it is the fact that the LTC drivers use their discretion when they shouldn’t be using it at all or that this particular driver has some sort of hatred towards post-secondary students in the City of London. I don’t know and I don’t think writing pure speculation is productive in anyway.

If there was room for the wheel chair (or an extra person) from the beginning and it was simply a matter of people getting up out of their seats and standing than this would be a non-issue. It is the fact that the LTC made a poor decision and put out 6 people to accommodate a single individual. What right did the bus driver have to kick people off to accommodate one other person?

Needless to say I am not happy in anyway about this situation.

(Don’t even get me started on the topic of strollers as that’s an issue in itself)

Western Fair: The Decline?

September 8, 2008

Every city or town has an fair, festival or event that happens on an annual basis and most people have had the opportunity to attend one of them at some point in their life. Whether it is the well-known Ex in Toronto, the Western Fair in London, Ontario, the annual fair in Woodstock, Ontario, or the Bean Festival in Zurich, Ontario, each offers some type of excitement and fun for children and adults alike.

Here in London we have the Western Fair which has been in operation for roughly 140 years. Since its first year of operation in 1868 it has changed a great deal over the past century and a half, from being a traditional farmers market and fair, to what we know today with over-priced rides and games.

Over the past 10 years I have seen the Western Fair in London go downhill, as many things have here in the Forest City. Each year there is less and less to enjoy at the fair, in terms of entertainment, rides, food vendors, or merchants selling and displaying their items.

I had the opportunity to work at the fair a number of years in a row, holding various positions each year. During those years I was able to have an up-close view of how the fair operated and was able to easily identify the changes from year to year. Now that I no long work there I see the fair with a different perspective although I still carry the same knowledge that I did when employed there.

So what has happened to the fair to constitute it going downhill? To begin, things have become more spread out. As the Western Fair Association continually acquires new lands around the existing properties it owns, it must continue to fill these properties with attractions for the 10 days of the fair. Normally, good business sense would tell someone to fill these new spaces with more attractions. However, in the case of the Western Fair it has simply spread its existing attractions over a larger area, and in many cases it has fewer attractions from year to year to distribute.

Each year I find that there are fewer rides, fewer attractions and fewer vendors to fill the buildings that the fair has to utilize. Things become less compact in an attempt to cover up the fact that there are actually fewer things to do at the fair.

When I was a child I went to the fair to go on the rides, play games, have a bit to eat and to see how much free “crap” that we could get. Those days are all but gone and I have a hard time justifying going to the fair when I am not going to get anything out of it. Although I am aware of inflation, increasing market prices and commercial consumerism, I strongly believe that the fair has become unaffordable for the normal everyday person (and their family).

These days, to have a go on a single 2 minute ride a person must pay upwards of $4.00+ for this “cheap thrill”. This price tag seems a little much to me for a ride on a piece of metal that continually goes in circles.

Many of the long-time food vendors have been removed and been replaced with LCD TV screens and now the food that I enjoyed time after time is no more.

Most of the buildings that were once full of unique vendors offering varying services and products are no longer full. Sure there are vendors but not the number that use to be there.

The things that the fair once had going for it no longer exit. The attitude towards the fair and what it offers the people of the communities it serves has changed so dramatically over the past 10 years that one might wonder where it will be in the coming years. In my opinion, if the fair continues to operate the way it has been in the coming years, there will be nothing left of the 10-day experience. Each year, the Western Fair Association complains that attendance is not at the level it should be. Many times they try and blame it on the weather, when perhaps they should open their eyes and look at the real cause: its operation, and what it has to offer.

The Western Fair Association has focused its time and attention in recent years to supporting the gambling addiction that many people have. Expanding race track betting, simulcast, constantly building upon the slot machines; all of these things have drawn attention and resources away from the annual fair. Although I am well aware that the 10-day Western Fair may not be a priority for the Association, I would think that if they still want it to be a significant revenue generator that they would put more effort into it – or they might as well just end it altogether.

In my honest opinion, I can see the annual week-long fair no longer existing in 10 years from now. Instead, the Western Fair will be the gambling centre of London, a full-scale casino, more horse racing… perhaps they will even have betting for municipal, provincial and federal elections.

What’s That Building?

September 4, 2008

This is more of an inquiry than anything else.

For the past month I have been going past the LTC depot on Highbury Ave. Not too long ago I saw some construction beginning on the LTC property adjacent to the rail lines. At first I didn’t have a clue at what was going on here, I didn’t remember hearing anything about new construction for the LTC aside from the new terminal that they are wanting to build in west London, so needless to say I was a little curious of what was going on.

Last week I went by the Highbury location again and notices a Circus like tent structure that had been erected. Plastered with the LTC Blue, Green and White, at the time of my passing this structure was housing 5 buses with what looked like the capacity to hold 10 or so. (I was unable to snap a picture at the time, but if anyone else as one please post the link so people know what we are talking about.)

My question is this:

What is the actual purpose of this hideous structure? (Are the Shriners looking for a new place to host their annual circus in the city?) It is obviously a temporary structure, so is it to tide the LTC over until it gets its satellite location built? Why is it so tall, this seems unnecessary to me, are they going to start stacking the buses now? I guess I just don’t get it.

If someone has some insight into this I would be happy to hear it.

On another LTC note, the LTC has decided that they want to increase bus fare 8-10% in order to finance projects such as their rapid transit bus system, their satellite facility and adding new buses to their fleet. My two sense on this? I’m not going to even get started.

The Breath

August 31, 2008

It’s midnight and I’m having difficulty breathing. My difficulty is not due to congestion or a dripping nose. My difficulty could be caused by this common cold tricking my mind.

If this is true, then this trick has me believing the air in my room contains something both pungent and foreign. If false, then I have reason to be concerned over what surrounds me and causes me discomfort.*

I think I’ll go to sleep happy in the knowledge that the common cold is muting my senses (and not blame it for maybe adding a few small inputs).

* I seem to fall into category three of a list which was included in a larger compilation** of resources. I don’t think my issue tonight is with the chemicals described; I think this year I’ll begin asking people what brands they buy in hopes of narrowing down the offending chemical.

** Found through Newsvine which I encountered recently when looking for an AP article which was picked up by WIRED magazine. The author, Anick Jesdanun, publishes on Newsvine.

Students: The Other Perspective

August 28, 2008

Its that time of year again, its officially (ok, well not officially yet) fall and more importantly back to school time.  First and foremost please remember to slow down when you see children and school buses.  They are our future and we need to protect them.  Drive cautiously and remember the rules of the roads.

Students, some people hear that word and they just cringe.  Many people when they hear this word they immediately think of Fanshawe College and UWO students who are once again “taking over” The City as they do each and every year for 8 months or so.  In the past weeks there have been more articles in the local news about students and the problems they bring with them, and like every other year the stories will continue until the students leave.

We hear about the ignorant students, the loud  and destructive students, the students that love to party, the students that love to cause a public disturbance, we hear about the negative aspects of city life that  we hear about these day after day.  But have we ever stopped to think about the positive things that students bring to The City, most of us I take it have never thought of these things and I thought it were about time that we began to.  By no means is this an exhausted list of the positives that students bring to London, it is only a beginning.

Charity work

The charity work that students contribute to London’s social well being is phenomenal.  Most people will mention Shinerama at the beginning of the school year that involves students but beyond that most people are hard pressed to name any other charities or organizations that benefit from student presence.  Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Community Living London, Participation House are just a few of the organizations that benefit greatly.  The local school boards (TVDSB, Catholic and others) all benefit from students volunteering to help in any number of ways.

Although beyond Shinerama and United Way events, the presence of students in charitable organizations may not be known, not because the students aren’t there, because believe me they are, but because students aren’t always looking for the recognition but rather they are just looking to help out.

Bus service

No matter what your standpoint and opinion are about the LTC and the service it provides you have to admit that without the student presence in town the service would be lacking.  Students not only help to keep the cost of bus fair down (passes, tickets and coin) they allow London to have the number of buses that it does as well as the service coverage and service frequency.  Without students tuition (portion of) subsidizing the public transit system in London, the service that we are currently receiving would be no-where near as good as it is.

(there is a large % of students that choose not to use the LTC and the pass they pay for [no opt out option], this in turn is essentially free revenue for the LTC translating into more money for more services.)

Economic Input

Students pour tons of money into the local economy here in London and without the students and their money London would not have many of the services and shops currently available to every consumer.  Students allow many restaurants to stay open, students ensure that the commercial services in malls and in the downtown are able to sustain business.  The services that students need allow for thousands of people in London to be employed, not only those at Fanshawe and Western but throughout the city.  Businesses locate in London because there is a large student population and many would not locate otherwise, this in turn provides the rest of the population access to the same businesses and services.

Students do not only bring their money (or parents money) with them but they bring business and services as well.

Social Characteristics

Social Characteristics are perhaps one of the most important things that students being to The City, but one of the most overlooked.  The student population (and young professional population, of whom were students some short time ago) not only bring new ideas to London but they ensure that the population in The City does not remain stagnant, that it continues to have a youthful characteristic to it.  Without the students London could be labeled as a retirement comment that is slowly on the decline, with limited grow, limited income and limited financial input into the local economy.  Students help to balance out the demographics, not only in London but in any city with major educational institutions.

Skilled workforce

Students are the future of London.  Not only are they providing the local economy with skilled workers (ok, many are leaving but this is another issue altogether) but they are providing The City with tax dollars that end up paying for services for those in their aging years.  Students provide a new outlook on The City and Life, not a better outlook but a new and refreshed one.  Students are the ones that in 10 years will be given the task of looking after the aging population, providing services to The City and who will be eventually running the cities.

Students provide a vast number of things to London, presently and in the future.

By no means am I trying to defend students as a whole, some students are better/worse than others.

Students may cause disturbances, students may be ignorant, students may throw loud and annoying parties, other students may get arrested for one thing or another and students may be the worst thing to happen to this city.

I think what we need to do as society is to start having a different perspective on issues such as students and those of the like.  How would we react to these vary comments and allegations if we replaced the word students with other words.

Natives may cause disturbances, Blacks may be ignorant, Whites may throw loud and annoying parties, Christians may get arrested for one thing or another and Canadians may be the worst thing to happen to this city.

A little hard to swallow perhaps?  My point exactly.

My guess is that people would not be to fond of the above statements and there would be a much larger uproar.  Is it really that fair to pick on students?  I admit there are problem students out there, but the majority are not.

With that said, how about we try to look at both the positives and negatives that the varying people of London bring to the city and stop stereotyping them into specific groups using them as scapegoats for larger issues tha may exist.

False Perceptions of London

August 23, 2008

KevBo avatarHaving been born and raised in London and recently chosen to remain in the city (even when I’ve had plenty of chances to get out) I like to think that I have experienced my fair share of what the City of London has to offer to its inhabitants. Over the years there have been a number of things that I have identified to myself as issues within the city and I had decided to list off a short number of them.

I got to writing and before I knew it I had written 4 pages about 5 items, which at the time I thought were relatively small and concise topics. I read over what I had on paper and realized that is wasn’t so much the single items themselves that bothered me but the bigger picture behind them.

Of all the things that I initially identified as problems the common element among them was that of perception.

Perception of London by Londoners.

Far too often I find myself hearing people make (negative) comments about London that are more often than not full of misconceptions and falsities about London itself.

Whether it is comments about the LTC and the service it provides or the impact that students have on the community of London I find myself having to sift through commentary, which is made on nothing more than pure ignorance.

I will be the first one to admit that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, however, one must base their opinions of facts and not just the imaginary world that they may live in.

I am tired of people believing and giving off the perception that the post secondary students that inhabit London 8+ months of the year impact the city in nothing but negative ways. It is this perception by a limited number of residents that gives others a poor perception of the city. For once I would like someone to list of the positive things that students bring to the city and see how much they are affected by these items.

I am tired of people giving their insight to the LTC and its service when they have either never taken the LTC before or have taken it once and had a single bad experience. Perceptions such as these the belong to those that are in-experience, un-educated or bitter towards the topic on which they speak of and do nothing to help the city but to place it in a sub-par light, a light where it does not belong.

Sadly it is the negative perceptions of a city, of London, that get the most public attention and therefore have the greatest impact over the existing residents as well as perspective ones. I just wish that one day we may live in a world city where this is not the case. Perhaps I’m an idealist, but I’m an honest one at that.

Labatt Memorial Baseball Park & Noise By-laws

August 21, 2008

KevBo avatarThere has been a City By-Law in London, Ontario has has bothered me for as long as I can remember. It baffles my mind and I just can’t bring myself to understand how it even exists. There are numerous By-Laws that I may not agree with but I am sure they are for the greater good and although this might be one of them I really think that The City has taken the wrong approach to this situation.

As I said, there are many By-Laws that are implemented in The City that are needed on a daily basis; noise, open alcohol, laws dealing with pets, the list goes on, but then there are others that aren’t needed and the fact that they are laws makes me wonder how they became laws.

For example, why do we need a by-law saying you cant park on the public streets between 3-5am in the middle of summer? It makes no sense. In the winter Im ok with it because of snow removal, but in the summer, what a joke. This law certainly does not exist in the summer so that street cleaners can operate, because as we all know they work in the middle of the day and end up causing issues not only in the downtown area but across the city (I know they work in the evenings as well, but they do not exclusively have to). So that might just be a By-Law that we don’t need, and something that The City has been looking into. One that is good By-Law, in my honest opinion, is the one about parking cars on your front lawn, it just looks messy and junk yard like to have cars parked on your lawn, and I think that most people would argue that is not what lawns are for.

In any city there are good and bad laws, that is always going to be the case, but then there are stupid laws that were influenced by stupid people. I have two examples, one a local example the other from Toronto.

Labatt Memorial Baseball ParkLabatt Park

For those of you who don’t know, Labatt Memorial Park is in London, Ontario and it is the oldest operating baseball field/diamond in the world (this is an ongoing debate, but that is not the topic of discussion here). Currently is it used primarily by the London Majors Baseball team and on occasion for special events, in the past it was use more often with the London Tigers, London Warewolves and London Monarchs all taking their turn in the ballpark.

Although this is the worlds oldest ballpark in operation there is a city By-Law that prohibits it from operating as it should. The By-Law (a portion of it) reads as follow:For evening baseball, no inning is to begin after 11:00 pm and all field lighting is to be turned off by 11:30 pm., or something of that nature.

(NOTE: I had a link to the Labatt Ballpark User Guidelines from The City, but when they updated their site the link no longer worked, therefore I had to remove it)

This By-Law came into place (I can’t remember what year), because the residents in the area complaining about the lights and the noise that the ball park produced at night.

I find this to be somewhat of a joke for the following reasons

Labatt Park has been in its location for far longer than any of the residents have been. It is true that the ballpark has changed its orientation after the flood (1883) but the ballpark has still been there longer than any reisdent. For this reason those whom choose to purchase propery in the area should be aware of the ballpark and the business which happens there, they should respect the ballpark, its heritage and the heritage of the City of London. Take for example if someone were to move into a home next to a steel mill, the steel mill isn’t going to be shut down just because someone that just moved in doesn’t agree with its use.

Second, a person could argue that there was never any real noise or disturbance from the park and its use as the ball clubs that have played there have never brought in enough spectators to cause any noise. London isn’t a baseball town.

This is one By-Law that I think should not be in existance. Those who buy properties in such an area should be well aware of what is arround the. For this specific example I find it funny that people will buy a home in an area that has been known to flood (when subsequently lives were lost) and still do so with no complaints, yet they find it easy enough to complain about a heritage property that is promoting and supporting recreation. It blows my mind.

Now on to my second, somewhat related item.

Toronto Pearson International Airport

This law I don’t know too much about personally, but I find it to be a poor By-Law none the less.

Tell me this: What was there first, the airport or all of the houses that they have built around the airport in the last 20 years?? The Airport (1939) was there first, thank you very much.

If you want to buy a home right next to one of the busiest airports in the Country (if not the world) then that is your choice but you should be prepared to live with the sound of the airport for the rest of your life, not expect the planes to stop flying.

Currently Transport Canada has imposed a limit on all aircraft movements between 12:30am and 6:30am. This is one of the worst laws ever. It is one of the worlds busiest airports, Canada’s busiest airport and its not even open 24 hours. Think of all the money, business and tourism that The City is missing out on all because people think they should have priority over something that came 50 + years before they did.

Both of these examples just baffle my mind. I love the fact that Government bends over backwards to appease home buyers when they really shouldn’t have to. The home buyers should respect what has been historically in their neighbourhood and either deal with it or not move into the area. Changes on such scales as whats been outlined here should not take place, but apparently in these modern days cities across our nation have to compensate for the ignorance of the un-educated home buyers out there.

Overpass: Shouldn’t Be an Option

August 15, 2008

“I don’t want to see any more money spent on this,” is what Councillor Joni Baechler was quoted saying in Friday’s London Free Press regarding the ongoing topic of building an overpass at the rail crossing where Hale and Trafalgar Streets meet…

I couldn’t agree with her more, in fact, in addition to the cost aspect of this stupid decision on the part of City Council there are a number of other reasons why this overpass should never be built. Take into consideration the following:

1. Money – Should The City really be spending money to build an overpass (one that is not needed I might add) when there are still a number of roads out there that are in dire need of repair? Or shouldn’t The City look at a more appropriate place to build an overpass, such as on an arterial road like Adelaide Street, an opinion that Coun. Baechler and I both share. The crossing at Hale and Trafalgar gets a fraction of the daily traffic that Adelaide street does, but apparently city council was ill-informed on these figures. This is one instance when The City should really think before they start spending money.

2. Stupid People – This is probably the most important point I can make, so follow along carefully. I know this is a rail crossing in The City that has had a number of both car and pedestrian accidents over the last few years, many ending in death, BUT remember, this isn’t the only place in The City where such instances happen, so why should this location be treated any different?

Now I’m not sympathetic to those that have died at this crossing because it is their own fault. Hate me if you want for looking at it this way, but I’m taking a realistic approach to this and I suggest you do the same. Think very carefully about it: there are safety arms that go down for a reasons, there are warning signs, warning lights and sounds, I’m sure that all of the people who have died were aware of at least one of these signs but apparently they didn’t understand that if these are in operation it probably means that it isn’t safe to cross.

Common sense people.

If you decide to cross anyways wouldn’t you look both way to see if a train is coming before doing so? I would hope so, but apparently they did not. How blind do you have to be to not see a large locomotive coming your way, some people are just too stupid for their society’s own good.

If we went around trying to “improve” The City just to help reduce the number of instances where stupid people have accidents incidents The City would never get around to getting the actual important things accomplished.

The City should not have to babysit or play big brother to the vast amount of stupid people in London.

3. Responsibility – Is this really The City’s responsibility? Would CN not be the one held responsible if someone dies on their tracks, and if so shouldn’t they be financing the situation to the problem? I don’t have the answers to these questions but they need to be asked none the less.

4. Practicality (of this bright idea) – Is putting an overpass at this area really that practical, lets think about this. This intersection already has enough issues with it from a planning and transportation standpoint, issues that I don’t need to point out, just take a look for at the provided map. The room needed to implement and to install a bridge would be tremendous not to mention how the existing development in the area would be effected. You cannot very well try to pull something like this off in an already developed neighbourhood.

5. Other Options – Perhaps instead of installing an overpass The City/CN would be better off to repair the crossing itself, as the last time I drove over it I remember it being in a poor state and needing repair. (correct me if this is no longer the case, my mind leaves me from time to time and I cannot fully remember) The City could think of a better solution for the 2 intersections that converge at this crossing which would help with the traffic issues. And last, but most importantly, more appropriate and feasible measures could be installed at this crossing to help the stupid people that insist on crossing even they are being told not to.

I grew up not too far from this crossing and I use to bike over it daily when I was a child. Now I am over in that area a couple of times each week and I still use the crossing. Neither then nor now have I even had a “run in” with a train, why? Perhaps its because I know how to properly “use” and negotiate a railway crossing.

Perhaps before The City tries to solve the problem by building an overpass that really isn’t needed they should first understand what the actual problem is and deal with it at the source: stupid people.

Perhaps education is needed or some other measures but an overpass is not the solution.

In the end natural selection will eventually equal everything out, the strong smart will survive, the weak stupid, well not so much.

Perhaps we should use the cheapest and best solution out there: leave it to nature to work itself out.

Heritage Buildings: Their Value to You

August 15, 2008

In the past years the City of London has lost many of its most important and cherished heritage buildings. The famous Talbot Block (now recreated in the JLC), the recent loss of Locus Mount, the scare of loosing the Capital Theatre and the long list of other buildings that are deteriorating as we speak, The Normal School, the buildings of the London Psychiatric Hospital and now the Brunswick Hotel.

Recent news tells us that the owner of the Brunswick Hotel (better known as The Wick) is seeking a demolition permit due to the poor structural condition of the building, this is a permit that the city and local heritage activists will apparently not contest.

The Wick itself has been around in London since 1855 when its primary functions were of hotel and tavern. Today many of these activities continue at The Wick, however no where near at the same capacity as they once did.

Sometime within the past 15 years (the actual time period escapes me at the moment) The Wick has had its facade re-worked and cleaned up in an attempt to both restore the building to the respect it deserved, sadly the same attention has not been paid to the interior of the building and in recent years much of the inner structure has degraded and now a number of rooms in the hotel are un-inhabitable, one reason leading to the owner to apply for a demolition permit.

With that said it seems that London is loosing yet another of its Heritage buildings along with which will go the deep heritage that it carries with it.

Far too often people dismiss the importance of a heritage building and quickly call for it to be torn down, thinking that it holds no use in their lives or modern society. Although that may be true for a small percentage of the existing heritage building stock in the City of London the majority of the buildings carry a deep history with them that we can both taken in to enjoy and appreciate as well as learning from them at the same time.

If we simply disregard these buildings as old and useless we end up loosing the foundation for which this city and the society we live in were based upon. The stories of these buildings alone can only teach us (and future generations) a limited amount about our history, to the point that without the physical building history becomes something of simple the imagination with nothing substantial to tie the past to the present.

Although I may be considered an optimist and/or idealist I have in no way lost touch with reality. My academic and work background both have me immersed in heritage studies and I will be the first one to support a heritage building, however even I can see when a building has been lost (such as The Wick or the LPH Examination Building) and even I must accept its fate. The solution to this issues, the issue of loosing these buildings, is to not let a building get to such a poor condition in the first place.

We must begin to understand the actual importance of these buildings, the importance for today, and for tomorrow. We must invest in these buildings now so that those in the future can draw on the resources they provide. There are countless cities from around the Country World that invest in their built heritage and have gain significantly because of it, why cant London do the same? It is sad but it seems as each day when I read the paper I read of another building near extinction; this should not be the case.

Only by looking to the past can we properly plan for the future. If we look and nothing exists what does that say about the outlook for our future?

Downtown Decline: Myth or Reality

August 8, 2008

The work I am engaged in on a daily basis requires me to continually be surrounded by research on the City of London, both Historical and Contemporary. Being surrounded by all this information always brings up a vast amount of conversation and opinion in the work place.

Working with the people I do its hard to imagine or believe that there is anything positive about the City of London and its direction or rate of growth.

Working with one person, an American, that likes not a single thing about the city is often hard to swallow, but what is even a harder concept to deal with is how you can hate everything about a city but devote 2 + years of your life and the focus of your research on that city, but want to leave it right away and have no ties to it. Blows my mind.

Then there is another person who never has a positive outlook for anything in this city. He lives downtown but other than doing his research there (and drinking) he finds no use in the downtown area. He eat and sleeps downtown, but goes out of the core for everything else. Having devoted 4 years to the topic and a couple more to come he thinks that his opinions are all mighty and that his grim outlook of decline for the city core is the reality of how things are. I very much think that he has taken things to the extreme.

These two among many others believe that there is no hope for the downtown core. They may think they are the experts, but I think they are far from it.

Just like these two, many of the city councillors think that they are experts on the topic, but what really makes them the experts? They have done research, they have the degrees, but is that really what it take to be an expert on this subject?

I think not.

You can have all the education you want but if you don’t live in and around what you are talking about, if you haven’t done so for some time and don’t support the concepts and ideas that you preach how can you really call yourself an expert?

Far too many people support sustainable development, are against urban sprawl and are all for walkable communities but many if not most of these people do not “walk the walk”. Many of these people live on the outskirts of town, own 2 + cars, have never taken the bus in their life and only walk to their neighbors, they have never actually lived the lifestyle that they preach of.

Some people seem to think that gimmicks like a Pedestrian Mall (on Dundas between Wellington and Richmond), or a Light Rail Transit system bi-secting the city would solve problems and be the greatest thing for the city, sadly the people that think this (many councillors I might add) apparently do not live in the areas or use the services that they speak of.

A pedestrian mall in the downtown core would not solve problems but create a vast amount more, its not something that London actually needs or could support and its just one idea that has been tried in too many cities and has failed. As for the LRT, those that suggest that and support it, in my honest opinion, do not take the public transit on a regular basis, have not taken LRT in other cities and do not understand the dynamics of installing, operating and using a system like this especially in a city like London.

These are just a pair of example, of which there are many, of ideas that are out of the scope of helping the downtown core.

With all of this said there are a number of things that will help the downtown to grow and are not crazy or unattainable ideas.

Removing the walls from part of or all of the Rotary Reading Garden would open up a beautiful space to a greater number of people and make the spaces actually usable and make people aware that it is there. As of now it is hidden and even those who know of its existence fail to use it.

Bringing new positive development to the Richmond and York area of downtown, an area which has been neglected in the past and needs some help with rehabilitation. Currently there is a YOU cafe being worked on that will hopefully support this positive growth, but there needs to be other support in this area as well.

Then there is the issues of a grocery store in the downtown core. Many people complain that there already isn’t one, but what people fail to understand that a store of the size and type that people want must have a certain population to support it. This is something that is easily attainable for the downtown core in the coming years, people just have to be patient and move downtown. A grocery store (full scale) will happen, you just need to be patient.

These steps and others are being taken one at a time. New business are coming into the core (Moxies), business that will generate more people and that should bring more businesses with them.

Im not an idealist and I don’t believe things will be as great as some people think it will be, but its a downtown on the mend and despite what some people think, it is going somewhere.

Listen to the people who live in the downtown, those who use it on a DAILY basis and those who rely on its people and its services. Listen to those that use the public transport and not those who although they live in the downtown choose to drive to the suburbs to do their errands. Listen to those who live the downtown, not simple those that read about it and pretend that the reality of things are simply the words in a book. Listen to those that live downtown and want live there and not those that simple sleep there and would rather have nothing to do with the place.

The experts are not those that “lead” us, not those that do all of the research, the experts are those that live the downtown, those that are the downtown.

The Homosexual Agenda.

July 20, 2008

John Leschinski avatar
Gay Pride FlagGay pride is invading London this week, and not everyone is happy about it.

The ten day event celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered diversity kicked off Thursday and will run its course filled with events such as the Miss Pride Pageant Friday, live theater and various concerts throughout the week, and a variety of family and kids oriented activities all topped off with the annual pride parade downtown where organizers expect 15,000 people to show up in support of the community.