Posts Tagged ‘infrastructure’

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.

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Death of a Sidewalk

April 30, 2008


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sidewalk pic

Sidewalk unexpectedly ends along the north side of Commissioners Rd. (major east-west 4-lane arterial) just east of Wellington Rd. (map). Providing proof that the city’s Transportation Master Plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Rubber Sidewalks?

April 5, 2008

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“There are rubber balls to bounce, rubber galoshes to keep your feet dry and rubber gloves for the nasty cleaning chores. Now, in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood and in a growing number of cities around the country, there are rubber sidewalks.” 01

(more…)

Toll Roads: Part of a Smart Anti-Congestion Plan

February 25, 2008

You may recall that I’ve previously suggested that toll roads (congestion fees) would be a good thing for London. 01 Now Toronto’s Mayor has joined the choir; David Miller thinks that tolls would be good for his city too. 02

It isn’t a new idea. In 1700s Britain “turnpike roads…were private businesses that maintained roads using the income obtained from charging for its use…” Over the past +100 years most new roads have been built “using funding from income tax and other government taxes.” But increasingly, old is becoming new again, as cities struggle to cope with serious congestion problems. “Toll roads like the M6 Toll are funded in a different and much fairer way. The cost of building and maintaining them is borne by the developer who recovers his outlay and interest charges by levying tolls on the traffic which uses the road – in exactly the same way as turnpike roads were operated 400 years ago. Thus toll roads are paid for only by the people who use them.” 03

Sources:
01. 2008/01/09 – FMBS: Ted Kheel’s fight…
02. 2008/02/23 – Toronto Star: Mayor backs serious look at road tolls
03. M6toll

Other Links:
Toronto 407 ETR
Indiana Toll Road
Harris County (Greater Houston) Toll Road Authority
Cobequid Pass (Nova Scotia) Toll Road
(Orange County CA) Transportation Corridor Agencies
(Denver) e-470
2008/02/29 – Toronto Star: Strong premier would steer toward road tolls
2008/04 – Toronto Life: Toronto’s Traffic Time Bomb

Are Communication Towers Good Neighbours?

December 29, 2007

It’s an issue that Industry Canada has jurisdiction over, but one that municipal politicians all over the province are increasingly hearing about.

More users (19.3 million Canadian subscribers as of September) and the need for greater bandwidth (video and music downloads) is driving a growing demand for better wireless infrastructure that solves poor reception. But as service providers react to that demand by putting cellphone towers in residential neighbourhoods, some community groups are voicing fears that the towers’ radio frequency emissions may pose health risks. And some residents, primarily concerned with visual blight, are demanding that towers be disguised (trees, church steeples, building facades, flag poles, public art water tanks, light poles, chimneys, windmills, etc; check out some of the photos HERE).

Residents in Montgomery County, Washington learned the hard way that cash-strapped school boards cannot be trusted to put the protection of children’s health ahead of economic incentives. When a bill came before the Maryland Legislature which proposed that leasing space for any new cell phone towers on elementary and middle school property be prohibited, the Montgomery County School Board voiced it’s unanimous opposition (‘School board stops bill banning new cell towers‘; Examiner; 2007/12/12).

Some countries in the European Union have adopted tough standards. In Salzburg, Austria, emissions can’t exceed 0.1 microwatts per square centimetre. But here, Health Canada currently permits 1,000 microwatts per square centimetre.

Should London residents be concerned?

Links:
Stop Cell Towers!
2004/05/19 – SignOnSanDiego: Parents protest cell towers on school grounds
2007/09/27 – Las Vegas Sun: Cell towers can’t hide from their opponents
2007/11/14 – Rense: Taiwan Removes All Cell Towers Near Children
2007/12/29 – Toronto Star: Cell tower plans jammed
2007/12/29 – Toronto Star: Telcos get mixed signals about better reception
2008/01/04 – Toronto Star: City report recommends limiting new cell towers

Another London Watermain Break

December 20, 2007


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This just in, via CJBK1290… there’s been another watermain break in downtown London, this time at Dundas/Clarence. Further details as they become available…

Appended:

The intersection was open again by the time that my backgammon club‘s meeting ended at 9:00 pm.

Links:
2007/12/21 – LFP: Core springs another leak

Wastewater Tax Increase

December 8, 2007

According to CLEAR: Shared AccountabilityThe storm drainage system in the city is extensive. Over 1,100 km of storm sewers help remove surface water and transport it to creeks and rivers… Eliminating roof downspout connections to the storm sewer system and ensuring that there are no connections to the sanitary sewer systems is another way to reduce the harmful affects to the river. The Drainage By-law has specific drainage related stipulations that require residents to handle storm water on their own property first by allowing it to infiltrate into the soil.”

When I tried to raise the subject of wastewater during the past municipal election campaign (click HERE and HERE), there didn’t appear to be much interest.

But wait! As part of the new water system budget, London’s City Council has just increased the wastewater tax by $40. You’ll now be paying about $478 next year for the water/wastewater services that you enjoy.

Perhaps more people will be interested in things like runoff diversion now. You think?

Links:
2007/08/10 – Globe&Mail: New system could halve water consumption
2007/10/27 – Globe&Mail: City proposal aims to divert runoff from sewer
2007/11/01 – Globe&Mail: Council urged to order downspouts disconnected
2007/11/03 – Ottawa Citizen: A quest for neighbourhood
2007/11/19 – Toronto Star: Downspouts top city agenda
2007/11/21 – CBC: Downspouts (audio that runs 11:26)
2007/11/21 – Globe&Mail: Downspout program swamped with requests
2007/11/21 – National Post: Unhooking Downspouts May Cost $65M
2007/11/22 – Toronto Star: 10-year wait for downspout disconnect
2007/11/23 – Toronto Star: Councillors need lesson on economy
2007/11/24 – Toronto Star: No wonder Toronto’s finances are in a mess
2007/11/24 – Toronto Star: High cost to protect residents and city
2007/11/24 – Toronto Star: Offensive for Star to print such hateful ruminations
2007/11/28 – Toronto Star: Cost of program defies common sense
2007/12/05 – The Londoner: $67 more a year for water and sewer services
2007/12/03 – Proposed Water Rates & Charges Bylaw
2007/12/03 – Proposed Schedule of Sewer System Fees and Charges Bylaw
2007/12/03 – Overview of 2008 Water & Wastewater & Treatment Budget
2007/12/05 – The Londoner: $67 more a year for water and sewer services

Public Wi-Fi

December 4, 2007

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Spacing Toronto reports that the Toronto Public Library has been able to expand free Wi-Fi to 19 of it’s branches, thanks to a Citizenship and Immigration Canadadesignated high need areas” grant.

Links:
A Life Untold: Free Wi-Fi in London, Ontario
2007/11/28 – TPL: Toronto Public Library expands public Internet service

Core London, Ontario Intersection Unsunk

December 2, 2007

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LondonTopic reports that the Dundas/Wellington intersection that’s been closed since 2007/10/31 because of a 15′ sinkhole is scheduled to re-open to traffic in time for tomorrow’s morning rush-hour.

Links:
2007/10/31 – LFP: Downtown sinkhole stuns onlookers
2007/10/31 – TheAtavist: London, Ontario has an exciting day
2007/11/01 – BroadbandReports: Big sinkhole appears in London…
2007/11/01 – LondonFog: The giant sinkhole we refer to as London…
2007/11/02 – LFP: Infrastructure money defended
2007/11/05 – LFP: Sinkhole on council agenda
2007/11/21 – LondonTopic: Sinkhole and scathing report spawns…
2007/11/23 – DCN: Poll finds London residents believe…
2007/12/03 – LFP: It’s finally fixed

Infrastructure Experiment

November 14, 2007

Toilet iconWhile the attention of so many Londoners is on infrastructure issues, like sewers, now might be a good time to do some public education. Over on How Stuff Works, they answer the question “What if everybody…flushed the toilet at the same time?

Hmmm.

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Solving Downtown Parking

October 31, 2007

A burst water main created a 10-metre by 10-metre sinkhole at the northeast corner of Wellington and Dundas streets today. Or at least, that’s what it was being blamed on. However, some onlookers were reported to have heard a strange buzzing sound…

sinkhole01.jpg sinkhole02.jpg
Nobody will recognize us is our Halloween costumes.”

Links:
2007/11/02 – The Gazette: Hole-y havoc in downtown core

London Transportation – My Public Response to Paul Berton

January 6, 2007

Hold onto your hats… this is a long post…

Mr. Berton,

To begin with, a note of appreciation for today’s “Back transit plan before it’s too late” editorial. Public transit is hugely important towards safe and healthy cities, and as I’ve written to you before and despite all of City Hall’s posturing, sadly ignored (as evidenced by per-capita mode share stats). Had it not been for significant transfer payments from the province and the feds in recent years, I hate to think what sad shape public transit in London would now be in.

LTC ridership was 18,761,000 in 1988. But thanks to the political pressure of the 0%-tax increase coalition, Council’s attitude toward increased support of public transit and other necessary services became very negative. The result was that LTC made a decision to increase user rates, the results were predictable. Ridership decreased year after year for the next 8 years! From a ridership level of only 11,905,000 in 1996, we are only now in 2006 finally getting back to that 1988 level.

But even that stat is deceiving, because the city has grown considerably since then. Whereas the 18,761,000 riders in 1988 represented a very modest mode share of 10%, the 18,276,000 riders which the service attracted in 2005 only represent a mode share of 7%. In order to match projected population growth and simply recapture the 10% share, the TDM estimates that ridership has to grow an average 600,000 additional rides per year, every year, until 2024.

Along with community centres (which I also strongly support), let’s not forget the importance that public transit plays in the lives of marginalized citizens (OW, ODSP, minimum-wage earners, disabled, etc), the increasing disparity between rich/poor in our society, and the resultant societal problems and huge health/policing costs that go along with those.

Perhaps if this initiative succeeds, more citizens will have access to Fanshawe Pioneer Village (as one example of a less accessible but important community resource) and it’s consequent improved finances will in turn reduce pressure on City Council at budget time.

To borrow a phrase from Arlene Kennedy, “Our city must become the centre for innovative and creative thinking.” Contrary to statements from the developer-backed naysayers on City Council, increased municipal investment in public transit would move us in that direction.

Might I suggest a follow-up article which examines the true cost of private automobile usage, not only including such things as purchase price, insurance, maintenance, license… but also things like municipal road widening, road extensions, public parking, police enforcement, bylaw enforcement, collisions, environmental degradation (pollution, loss of farmland, etc), increased infrastructure and emergency service costs resulting from urban sprawl … ?

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read Ryan McGreal’s “The High Cost of Free Parking.

I must admit though, that I’m somewhat at a loss to understand the failure of the LFP to address London’s record-setting year with respect to vehicle/pedestrian incidents, in any of your year-end recaps that I’ve read. Did I miss something?

On another transportation-related note. Many months ago, when I notified you about the proposal that I had put to City Council with respect to a Pedestrian Subcommittee for London, you replied that you had a special interest in pedestrian/bicyclist safety and that you wished to be kept informed. That being the case, you may be interested in the correspondence which is attached (below). In addition to the highly questionable manner in which the proposal was handled by City Council and “city administration”, I note that I haven’t had a single contact from any elected member about this.

Continuing with the same theme, and my efforts to extract a copy of the Commissioners/Pond Mills safety study from London Police Services. I’ve now succeeded in doing so but only with the assistance of the Ontario Privacy Commissioner.

The unsafe intersection of Commissioners and Pond Mills has been the sight of several horrific vehicle/pedestrian incidents and is one that I have focused on as part of my political action towards improved pedestrian safety in the city of London. It employs pedestrian islands and channelization (dangerously rounded corners so that drivers don’t have to stop or even slow down).

Excerpt from Constable Riley’s 2006/05/29 “Police Witness Statement” which I only obtained 2007/01/04 under FOI:
“I have met with FOWLER and monitored this intersection both with him present and on my own…The following are things that I have noted:
– very high traffic intersection both pedestrian and vehicle
– right hand turn, merge lanes for all directions of travel
– vehicles turning right generally come at a quicker rate of speed but are not speeding
– vehicles turning right, if they stop do so in such a place that they are generally in the crosswalk
– there are no indicators for vehicles making right turns that pedestrians are present or about to cross
– for pedestrians wanting to cross any of the intersections, they must first make it to the island on the opposite side of all the right hand turn lanes in order to push the button to cross the major part of the intersection
– once pedestrians are on the islands they are pretty much blind to vehicles and there is a safety risk that vehicle may not see them”

Excerpt from Constable Riley’s 2006/08/10 “Case Summary” which I only obtained 2007/01/04 under FOI:
“FOWLER was contacted…and a request was made to meet with him and go over this complaint in detail at the intersection in question. Intersection was monitored for a couple of days. Very high traffic both pedestrian and vehicles. Crosswalks are not very safe as pedestrians are forced to cross the path of the turning lane to enter on to an island in order to depress the pedestrian walk button.”

In an email to me dated 2006/08/11, Sgt. Thomas O’Brien wrote:
“Constable Riley’s report acknowledges that Commissioners and Pond Mills is a busy intersection for both vehicles and pedestrians. He doesn’t like the configuration of the merge turns and how it impacts pedestrians. He indicates that local MPP were notified of the concerns… I had conversation with Mr. Shane Maguire of the City Traffic. We discussed this intersection and the unusual requirements for pedestrians to cross merge lanes to get to an “island” to further cross. He is fully aware of the concerns. I asked him to look at other similar intersection configurations within the city to see if they’re experiencing similar problems.”

Correspondence re: Proposal for a London Pedestrian Subcommittee

—————————————————————————————————

Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2006 12:36:26 -0400 (EDT)
From: “Gregory Fowler”
Subject: Update – Pedestrian Safety
To: SMaguire@london.ca
CC: “Sandy White”

Mr. Maguire,

In appreciation of your past demonstrated willingness to meet with me and discuss these issues, please be advised,

In response to several complaints by me, Sgt. Tom O’Brien has assigned Const. Riley (661-5545) to investigate the issue of pedestrian safety at the intersection of Commissioners Road East and Pond Mills Road.

I met with Const. Riley at said intersection this morning and discussed the situation with him at length. My impression following the meeting is a good one.

Const. Riley appeared to be very receptive to the perception which I expressed with respect to multiple pedestrian safety issues, and seems to appreciate the dangers imposed by the physical configuration of this particular intersection.

I’ve been promised by Contst. Riley that he will continue to monitor this situation, and that he will endeavour to have Sgt. O’Brien visit the location with him in order to explain/discuss the problems further. He also suggested the possibility of involving MPP Ramal, and he indicated to me that there will be a report available following his investigation.

Also,

As a result of my efforts toward the establishment of a Pedestrian Charter and a Pedestrian Subcommittee for the City of London, I have been informed by the Secretary of the Environment and Transportion Committee that the matter has been referred to the Board of Control for it’s consideration and reply.

I encourage you to follow these developments, and invite you to contact me at any time should you wish to discuss them further.

Respectfully,

Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One
962 Eagle Crescent
London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7
(519) 649-0500

Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 22:20:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Gregory Fowler
Subject: Fwd: RE: Your Letter
To: kbain@london.ca
CC: rcaranci@london.ca, hlysynsk@london.ca

Mr. Bain,

Thank you for your letter dated 2006/12/19 which summarizes how my proposal for a Pedestrian Subcommittee and a Pedestrian Charter was “handled”.

According to the material which you provided, civic administration’s “review” and “report” simply consisted of the single simple sentence that “Pedestrian safety would be a logical fit with the CSCP mandate and it is therefore recommended that … the CSCP’s duties be amended by adding thereto after the words ‘injury prevention’ the words ‘pedestrian safety’ in order to incorporate the area of pedestrian safety within the mandate of the CSCP.”

Was there any background study? Any consultation with other municipalities? Any consultation with London Police Services or members of the public? Why didn’t “civic administration” contact me? Is this what Mr. Fielding means when he talks about “accessibility”?

Why was the “report” submitted to the Striking Committee meeting? Given the fact that my proposal was referred by ETC to Board of Control, shouldn’t any “report” have gone back to Board of Control and even perhaps ETC, for public review and discussion?

Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 14:41:31 -0500 (EST)
From: Gregory Fowler
Subject: RE: Your Letter
To: “Stein, Brett”
CC: hlysynsk@london.ca, kbain@london.ca, rcaranci@london.ca
In-Reply-To:

Mr. Stein,

My apology. The letter originated from Mr. Bain, and I apparently did not exercise sufficient care in responding. Thank you for forwarding it to Ms Lysynski.

Greg Fowler

“Stein, Brett” wrote:

Mr. Fowler
I am unaware of any letter regarding pedestrian safety sent to CSCP in my name on December 5, 2006. I have taken the liberty of forwarding your email to Heather Lysynski, who after reading all the attached emails, seems to be your contact on this subject.

Brett Stein
Manager of Licensing and Elections
City of London
(519) 661-2500 x 5884
bstein@london.ca

From: Gregory Fowler [mailto:fowgre@yahoo.ca]
Sent: Monday, December 11, 2006 1:29 PM
To: Stein, Brett
Cc: Caranci, Roger
Subject: Your Letter

Mr. Stein,

Thank you for copying me your 2006/12/05 letter to CSCP which indicates that the issue of pedestrian safety has been incorporated within the mandate of that committee.

It strikes me as being highly inappropriate to have taken this action, given the fact that I’ve been awaiting a response to my proposal for a Pedestrian Committee since last May.

Has staff reported back to Board of Control? Has a decision been made with respect to my proposal?

Greg Fowler

Subject: RE: Follow-up re Pedestrian Committee
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006 13:59:17 -0400
From: “Lysynski, Heather”
To: “Gregory Fowler”

My apologies, just what has been happening until this point.

Heather Lysynski
Committee Secretary
City Clerk’s Office
519-661-2500 x 4856

From: Gregory Fowler [mailto:fowgre@yahoo.ca]
Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2006 1:40 PM
To: Lysynski, Heather
Subject: RE: Follow-up re Pedestrian Committee

Ms Lysynski,

> Pedestrian safety issues continue to be addressed by the
> Community Safety and Crime Prevention Advisory Committee.

Is this the response to my proposal for a Pedestrian Committee that I’ve been waiting for, or simply an explanation of how things have been done up until now?

Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One

Subject: RE: Follow-up re Pedestrian Committee
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2006 12:25:40 -0400
From: “Lysynski, Heather”
To: “Gregory Fowler”

Mr. Fowler,

In response to your inquiry, the Bicycle Advisory Committee was established with the mandate of assisting with the finalization of the Bicycle Master Plan, after which it would be integrated with the Transportation Advisory Committee. The Bicycle Master Plan has been completed, the Bicycle Advisory Committee has been disbanded and the terms of reference for the Transportation Advisory Committee have been amended to include representation from the cycling community. Pedestrian safety issues continue to be addressed by the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Advisory Committee.

Thank you,

Heather Lysynski
Committee Secretary
City Clerk’s Office
519-661-2500 x 4856

Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2006 00:20:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: “Gregory Fowler”
Subject: ETC Comments
To: “W. J. Bud Polhill”

Bud,

With respect to your remarks during the last ETC that “maybe if it was safer more people would ride a bike” and “I can understand a bicycle on the road but they have to have their own space.”

Perhaps, if you’re as concerned about the safety of alternate modes of transportation as your comments would suggest, you’ll explain to me why my proposal for a Pedestrian Committe was sloughed off to BoC and from there
to staff? And why my inquiry about the Bicycle Committee was simply ignored?

Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One.

Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2006 23:25:26 -0400 (EDT)
From: “Gregory Fowler”
Subject: RE: Follow-up re Pedestrian Committee
To: “Lysynski, Heather”

Ms Lysynski,

I’m aware of the fact that BoC tossed my proposal for a Pedestrian Committee to staff like it was a hot potato, but can you explain to me why I’ve had no response to my inquiry about the disbandment of the Bicycle Committee?

Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One.

Subject: RE: Follow-up re Pedestrian Committee
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2006 13:29:18 -0400
From: “Lysynski, Heather”
To: “Gregory Fowler”

Mr. Fowler:

Your communication was referred to the Board of Control for its consideration. The ETC report will be going to the Municipal Council meeting on Monday (June 12th).

Hope this helps.

Heather

Heather Lysynski
Committee Secretary
City Clerk’s Office
661-2500 x 4856

From: Gregory Fowler [mailto:fowgre@yahoo.ca]
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2006 1:23 PM
To: Lysynski, Heather
Subject: Follow-up re Pedestrian Committee

Ms Hlysynski,

Since I’ve had no response from anyone, and since the minutes of the 2006/05/29 ETC meeting are not yet online, perhaps you’d be kind enough to tell me how my communication (Agenda #9) was dealt with?

Respectfully,

Greg Fowler.

Date: Wed, 17 May 2006 15:45:20 -0400 (EDT)
From: Gregory Fowler
Subject: Inquiry
To: Hlysynski@london.ca
CC: Thomas O’Brien , lenlesser@hotmail.com,
pmcleod@thelondoner.ca, jsher@lfpress.com, garrison@cjbk.com,
newstalk1290today@cjbk.com, sewhite@london.ca, John.Wilsons@corusent.com,
jryan-lfp@rogers.com

Environment & Transportation Committee
City of London
c/o Heather Lysynski, Committee Secretary

May 17, 2006

Please be advised that I am interested in exploring the possibility of forming a pedestrian committee for the City of London , and the creation of a Pedestrian Charter, similar to those which already exist in the City of Toronto .

I understand from a recent agenda that the bicycle subcommittee has been disbanded. Might I receive some background information about what led to that decision, and whether it might negatively impact upon the creation of a pedestrian committee?

For more than a decade, I have been publicly active in advocating for things like increased police services, walkway lighting, etc. Pedestrian rights is simply the latest extension of that, and is driven by increased public environmental awareness, the city’s adoption of a Transportation Master Plan, the hiring of a TDM Co-ordinator (albeit with an insufficient budget), an aging population, and an alarming increase in the incidence of vehicle/pedestrian collisions.

I am attaching a recent communication to London Police Services which reflects that concern, and I ask that you give it your consideration and hopefully your support as well. I also note the excellent LFP May 16 column by Julie Ryan (“Give pedestrians ‘brake’ they deserve”) and I encourage you to read it if you have not already done so.

In the event that you might be receptive to the formation of a pedestrian committee, any recommendations from you would be very much appreciated.

Respectfully,

Mr. Gregory T. Fowler
962 Eagle Crescent
London , Ontario ; N5Z 3H7
(519) 649-0500

Date: Tue, 9 May 2006 14:08:59 -0400 (EDT)
From: Gregory Fowler
Subject: RE: Police Enforcement & Pedestrian Safety
To: Thomas O’Brien
CC: lenlesser@hotmail.com, pmcleod@thelondoner.ca, jsher@lfpress.com, garrison@cjbk.com, newstalk1290today@cjbk.com, sewhite@london.ca,
John.Wilsons@corusent.com

Sgt. O’Brien,

Thank you for your willingness to investigate my complaint.

I note with regret the article in today’s paper (“Cab hits senior in core”; Patrick Maloney; 2006/05/09), and I feel compelled to repeat the same warning that I’ve made many times before. London is headed too much in the same direction as Toronto and other large municipalities have gone, and vehicle/pedestrian incidents are inevitable unless we take aggressive measures to prevent it.

You are quoted as warning that “pedestrians need to be careful crossing city streets” and I have no problem with that. What bothers me is that you never seem to talk about the other side of the coin, and as a result I’m left with the impression that you have a bias against pedestrians.

Mr. Maloney attributes you as saying last month that “For the most part, pedestrians are at fault.”

I witness many incidents in which pedestrians behave in an unlawful and dangerous manner. I first started speaking out against that and other behaviours many years ago, when Chief Faulkner was still a Deputy. It’s one of the reasons that I publicly campaigned for an increased police budget so that more officers could be hired, something that even Chief Faulkner wasn’t doing.

But please. Let’s not try to pretend that drivers don’t share any responsibility for these incidents.

As I reminded you during our recent meeting at City Hall, walking is a natural right. Pedestrians don’t have to be licensed by the province, and the province can’t legislate against it.

Certainly, pedestrians are not at liberty to act with complete disregard. Hence, prohibitions such as R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 140 (4) with which I completely agree.

On the other hand, driving is not a right, it is a privilege (R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 31). And with that privilege, comes the legislated responsibility that drivers do everything possible to be in full control of their vehicles at all times, and those are so numerous that I feel it is unnecessary to cite them.

Until this city starts taking action to curb the seemingly insatiable selfish desire of people to use private automobiles to get to their destinations in the shortest possible time, and to curb our ever-increasing population, vehicle/pedestrian accidents will likely continue to increase. But London Police Services can try to keep it from becoming an epidemic.

I ask you again consider the possibility of conducting sting operations, similar to those which are employed by the Los Angeles Police Department (see: http://www.lapdonline.org/march_2002/news_view/22320).

Sincerely,

Greg Fowler, Ward One Municipal Candidate.

Increasing Pedestrian Traffic

October 16, 2006

The 2006/10/02 Municipal Council is said to have resolved that “the larger issue of infrastructure to support increasing pedestrian traffic throughout various areas in the City be referred to the Environment and Transportation Committee.”

2006 Fowler Election Platform – Taxes

October 12, 2006

as originally posted on my Election Website

I believe that there is a very serious problem with the way that municipalities are expected to finance their operations. “While the federal government racks up huge surpluses, the cities fall deeper into debt. Is it any wonder we are falling further behind the rest of the world? This approach to governance no longer makes sense, if it ever did.”  1

“There has been a massive shift of responsibilities from national and provincial government to local governments without the fiscal tools being transferred at the same time.”  2

I firmly support any effort to convince the upper levels of government that there has to be a restructuring of the tax system which examines the entire “tax pie” and which guarantees that “city states” are given an equitable share in a way that replaces the regressive property tax system.

I think that most people really want value for their money. They read about huge federal surpluses, financial mismanagement, the Gomery inquiry, but those politicians are too aloof and unresponsive. So they lash out at local politicians.

According to the annual public accounts which shows what happened to all our tax money that the feds got their hands on in the past year, we paid $300,000 for a photo-op, “$1.1 million for a trip to Ireland; $1.8 million for a trade junket to Hong Kong; $125,000 just in cancellation charges for a planned trip to Moscow that never happened…”  3

How many citizens truly understand the nature of taxation in this country? Transfers between different levels of government are so convoluted, who can really know the truth about who is ripping off who?

“Following the money to and from the federal government can make any head spin.”  5

In “Flaherty admits division over pledge” (Toronto Globe & Mail; 2006/10/07), reporter Karen Howlett has these things to say:

  • The Canada-Ontario funding accord “dates to May of 2005 when then-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin agreed to give Ontario $5.7-billion over five years for a variety of programs, including postsecondary education, public transit and labour-market training. The agreement was later extended by one year and the funding increased to $6.8-billion.”

  • “Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised in writing earlier this year that his government would honour his predecessor’s commitment.”

  • “Mr. Sorbara…accused the federal government of ‘reneging’ on that pledge because the Harper government intends to provide the funding through five separate trust funds…earmarked for public transit, low-income housing, postsecondary education and aboriginals.”

  • “Mr. Sorbara said Ontario would receive about $1-billion less than expected under the trust arrangement.”
  • Freezing property taxes is easy. Political candidates willing to promise to limit tax increases to the rate of inflation are commonplace. It’s the consequence of doing so that’s the hard part. Be prepared for increased user fees, uncut city boulevards, continued crumbling infrastructure, more litter, cuts to essential services like public transit and walkway lighting…

    What else?

    Despite the massive borrowing for things like the new central library and the John Labatt Center, and the consequent negative pressure for funding essential services like public housing and public transit, things promise to only get worse. London’s net outstanding debt level is projected to rise to $395.5m by 2010. The cost of servicing that debt is in excess of $60m each and every year!

    What could we do with that $60m a year, if current members of Council hadn’t put us into this situation?

    What else?

    In addition to all of the money that’s going to pay interest on the debt, there’s this unsustainable urban sprawl shell game that we’re playing.

    Because of the restriction on the way that cities can generate revenue, and in an effort to avoid a huge taxpayer backlash because of massive increases to property taxes, London for many years has depended upon a continuously increasing assessment base. But revenues from assessment growth are a kind of “stealth taxation.” Again, it’s the “out of sight, out of mind” approach. What’s going to happen if we have an economic downturn and the assessment base gets devalued? The choice will be simple. A huge increase in property taxes, deep cuts to the public services that our most disadvantaged citizens depend so much upon, or a combination of both.

    Compounding that… “There’s a tendency for governments to want to build new stuff rather than maintain the old stuff because you don’t get to cut ribbons for filling a pothole… Our present system is design, build and forget…”  5

    I propose that we seriously look at the mandatory use of reserve funds for future capital projects. Money should be set aside to prepare for the future replacement costs of any new infrastructure which is being rolling out, right from the beginning.

    What else?

    I think that the full costs of welfare and child care and court security should be taken off the property tax and funded by provincial revenues. Local governments should continue to lobby the Ontario government to reassume the responsibility for them.

    What else?

    I support zero-based budgeting, where city programs have to justify their value.

    What else?

    I oppose any automatic wage increase for local politicians unless a policy is adopted which ties those kind of auomatic salary increases to social assistance rates.

    What else?

    I continue to propose a moratorium on any further road extensions or widenings at least until such time as we reach and can maintain 100 LTC trips per capita.

    What else?

    I regret that I haven’t had the time to research this yet, but I’m interested in the possibility of identifying for renters how much of their rent goes to the City via the landlord. There is a fairly widespread perception that renters don’t contribute to the cost of local government, simply because they don’t pay property taxes directly.

    Sources:

    1. “This is no way to run a city”; Christopher Hume; Toronto Star; 2006/09/25

    2. “Taxes raise hackles in 905”; Richard Brennan & Jessica Leeder; Toronto Star; 2006/10/03

    3. “Public accounts reveal the ugly story of where your cash goes when it goes south”; Greg Weston (greg.weston@tor.sunpub.com); Toronto Sun; 2006/10/03

    4. “Paying the tax man; Where does your money go?”; Alan Findlay; London Free Press; 2006/09/24

    5. “Cities struggling to keep up infrastructure”; Steven Chase; Toronto Globe & Mail; 2006/10/09

    Some of what I’ve had to say in the past

    Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2006 05:24:27 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: More provincial downloading, or just another broken promise?
    To: kdubinski@lfpress.com

    With respect to your article in today’s paper (“Health unit seeks more cash”; Kate Dubinski; London Free Press; 2006/09/25).

    > The McGuinty Liberals said it would fund 65 per cent of
    > mandatory programs in 2006, with municipalities picking
    > up the rest. That figure was supposed to shift to a 75-25
    > split by 2007.
    >
    > But in March, Health Minister George Smitherman
    > announced the province was capping its increase for
    > 2006 at five per cent,

    Can you be any more convoluted? If I understand this, the province is not cutting funding. It is, in fact, increasing funding by 5%. But that 5% increase is less than what was promised. Correct so far?

    With the 5% increase, what does that make the split? 65-35?

    > leaving the Middlesex-London Health Unit, which had
    > already passed its budget for the year, in the lurch.
    >
    > Taxpayers in Middlesex County and London may be
    > on the hook…

    How many times do we have to read stories about politicians who count their eggs before those eggs are hatched? What business did the health unit have depending upon nothing more substantive than a politician’s promise? Let’s hope that the London Free Press takes special pain to educate local ratepayers about whose fault this is. The pressure on Council to refrain from property tax increases is huge, whereas few citizens do more than complain in their local coffee shop about the taxes being taken and wasted by upper levels of government.

    > The health unit can add four new positions with the
    > provincial funding it’s receiving, but that’s not enough
    > to do everything the health unit wants to…

    What are the new positions (I’m told that food inspectors are needed)? What is the ‘everything else’ that the health unit wants to do?

    > After…hearing that city and county councils had
    > agreed to pay the health unit at 2004 levels — which
    > are higher than the amended formula — the board
    > passed the altered funding formula.
    >
    > If the government formula was maintained, the city
    > would put in $5.3 million

    What formula was passed? The 65-35 split that was never attained? The lesser split following the 5% increase? Or the 2004 level?

    > If…approve the money, the health unit will get
    > a little more than $6 million from London

    And that’s only the same as they got from us in 2004? What did they get in 2005? What did they get for 2006, or has that funding even been received yet?

    Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One.

    Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 21:08:04 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Municipal Revenue
    To: pmcleod@thelondoner.ca

    Phil,

    I’m very interested in anything to do with a restructuring of the tax system in order to end the reliance of municipalities on regressive property taxes, and to give cities a better share of the total tax pie. The new Toronto powers interests me for that reason, but it leaves other cities out in the cold. Any chance that you’ll be writing about this important issue during the campaign?

    Greg.

    Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 21:05:58 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Fwd: Hospitality Surcharge
    To: jsher@lfpress.com

    Jonathan,

    I’m very interested in anything to do with a restructuring of the tax system in order to end the reliance of municipalities on regressive property taxes, and to give cities a better share of the total tax pie. The new Toronto powers interests me for that reason, but it leaves other cities out in the cold. Any chance that your skeleton news room will be writing about this important issue during the campaign?

    Greg.

    Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 20:52:28 -0400 (EDT)
    From: Gregory Fowler
    Subject: Hospitality Surcharge
    To: David Winninger

    David,

    With respect to your recent Council comments about taxing visitors in order to raise extra municipal revenue.

    According to a 2006/06/13 Globe & Mail article (“MPPs give the city some tools to shape its future”; Jennifer Lewington & Jeff Gray), the new City of Toronto Act “permits the city to set a Toronto tax on theatre tickets, but not on hotel rooms, as a revenue-making option.”

    Based on that, my assumption is that London would need provincial legislation in order to tax visitors. If you have any information to the contrary, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

    Greg Fowler

    Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006 20:52:28 -0400 (EDT)
    From: Gregory Fowler
    Subject: Hospitality Surcharge
    To: David Winninger

    David,

    With respect to your recent Council comments about taxing visitors in order to raise extra municipal revenue.

    According to a 2006/06/13 Globe & Mail article (“MPPs give the city some tools to shape its future”; Jennifer Lewington & Jeff Gray), the new City of Toronto Act “permits the city to set a Toronto tax on theatre tickets, but not on hotel rooms, as a revenue-making option.”

    Based on that, my assumption is that London would need provincial legislation in order to tax visitors. If you have any information to the contrary, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

    Greg Fowler

    Date: Sat, 9 Sep 2006 14:42:02 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Re: Creative City Report Card
    To: “Arlene Kennedy”

    Hello Arlene,

    Thanks for your email, and my apology for taking so long to respond.

    I don’t disagree with you about the New Economy or the value of arts and culture. But when there is so much competition for public dollars, and seemingly not enough of those for things like public transit, public housing, public safety, it’s difficult to figure out how to support other things.

    As somebody who has to exist on disability assistance, it’s hard to care about huge public investments in facilities like the JLC which are beyond my means to access. I do, however, support the judicious expenditure of public dollars for outdoor public art, because I believe that that can have a positive impact upon the psyche of all citizens, all of the time.

    I’m also a very strong proponent of examing the way that total public dollars are raised and allocated. There simply has to be a better way of generating revenue for local government. Here’s a snippet of my recent post on the London Commons site:

    > The damage done because of the “0% tax coalition” under a previous
    > mayor is something that we still haven’t recovered from. Cuts to LTC,
    > increased fares, and corresponding decrease in ridership is but one
    > excellent example. It’s the services which are needed by the most
    > disenfranchised members of society that are hardest hit.
    >
    > Advocating for sufficient local revenue in order to provide services doesn’t
    > necessarily have to correspond to total increased taxes. It’s a very
    > confused situation, and I often think, deliberately so. The Feds have had
    > how many budget surpluses? Does anybody truly understand the truth
    > about transfers to the Provinces and if they’re being short-changed?
    > Should municipalities have to pay for so many of the things that were
    > downloaded by the Harris government but the McGuinty government
    > hasn’t reversed? Should we scrap property tax? Are business taxes
    > too high? How about Education tax? Should municipalities be
    > allowed to get revenue from the Income Tax system, sales tax, etc?

    Please feel free to continue to convey your thoughts and questions to me. I’ll do my best to respond in as timely a fashion as I can manage.

    Respectfully,

    Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One

    — Personal Background info —

    I am a Ward One candidate in the 2006 London Municipal Election. But as a member of the disabled community who does rely on ODSP assistance, I am prevented from fundraising for my campaign because of the refusal of the local ODSP office to respond to my inquiries about how doing so would affect those benefits. An appeal to MPP Ramal’s office for assistance has been largely ignored. And the London Free Press and other local media are similarly ignoring the situation. This is the democracy that my uncle fought in WWII and died for?

    A former executive member of the NDP (President London-Middlesex, Secretary London-South, Manager London Community Office).

    Having had personal experience with unemployment, poverty, homelessness, suicidal depression, substance abuse, etc., I believe that I can bring a much-needed perspective to City Hall, and can advocate on behalf of the increasingly large population of disenfranchised citizens who are currently so poorly represented.

    Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2006 19:37:36 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: 2006/09/06 Edition
    To: pmcleod@thelondoner.ca

    Phil,

    With respect to your latest editorial (“Strange bedfellows as London heads towards election day”; Phil McLeod; The Londoner; 2006/09/06).

    “Are London taxes too high? In an election year, almost any candidate will say yes.”

    Perhaps you should identify those candidates who have the courage to say otherwise. Are there any, besides myself? Have any of them adopted a contrary public position, as I did in a letter which you published in The Londoner?

    I don’t dispute that there are fixed-income homeowners who are struggling with the continuously rising cost of living, but what’s the alternative? Shall we slash spending on public services that are most needed by an increasingly large disenfranchised segment of our population? Shall we ignore our crumbling infrastructure?

    Are those same people who complain about high taxes prepared to publicly acknowledge the HUGE true cost of private auto and all of the related costs, and join with me in advocating for a moratorium of an more road widening/extensions, and push for alternate modes?

    “Imagine David Winninger…”

    I fully agree with any observation about the hypocrisy of how the NDP postures in opposition, given Ontario’s experience. And I encourage you to review some of my AltLondon posts on that subject. Just this past week, David managed to sink to a new low in my estimation when he proclaimed that “The provincial government has taken upon itself to gradually increase the OW and ODSP rates to what they once were.” Typically, there’s been no response to my subsequent email.

    Still, posturing or not, I do not disagree with the use of reserve funds. Debt servicing is projected to cost local ratepayers in excess of $60m annually beyond 2010, money which could otherwise help to provide better public transit, rebuilding infrastructure, etc. Isn’t it better to finance future projects using obligatory reserve funds, as opposed to increased debt financing? [not a rhetorical question… I’d really like to know what you think]

    Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One

    — Personal Background info —

    I am a Ward One candidate in the 2006 London Municipal Election. As a member of the disabled community who does rely on ODSP assistance, I am prevented from fundraising for my campaign because of the refusal of the local ODSP office to respond to my inquiries about how doing so would affect those benefits. An appeal to MPP Ramal’s office for assistance has been largely ignored. And the London Free Press and other local media are similarly ignoring the situation. This is the democracy that my uncle fought in WWII and died for?

    A former executive member of the NDP (President London-Middlesex, Secretary London-South, Manager London Community Office).

    Having had personal experience with unemployment, poverty, homelessness, suicidal depression, substance abuse, etc., I believe that I can bring a much-needed perspective to City Hall, and can advocate on behalf of the increasingly large population of disenfranchised citizens who are currently so poorly represented.

    Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 13:42:37 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Municipal Election
    To: “Joshua Hurwitz”

    Hi Joshua,

    I was happy to read in today’s Freeps that you’ve entered the race for Board of Control. The quotes attributed to you with respect to growth appear to be pretty consistent with my own platform. I also agree that we have to be concerned about property taxes, for the sake of those homeowners who are on fixed incomes. But my concern takes the form of lobbying the province for an overhaul of the way that municipalities can finance themselves. London has to spend money in order to provide services which are essential for the health of the community. There is an increasing disparity between rich and poor, and the poor are being left behind. The consequence of that poverty manifests itself in things like homelessness, substance abuse, suicide, crime, etc. I will never be one of those who subscribe to the “0% tax increase” mantra which was so prominent during Gosnell’s term as mayor, and which led to things like increased transit fees and a terrible drop in LTC ridership. Anyways, I wish you the best of luck in the coming months, and I hope that you enjoy the experience.

    Greg Fowler, Candidate Ward One.

    — Personal Background info —

    I am a Ward One candidate in the 2006 London Municipal Election. As an ODSP recipient, I am prevented from fundraising for my campaign because of the refusal of the local ODSP office to respond to my inquiries about how doing so would affect my assistance benefits. An appeal to MPP Ramal’s office for assistance has been largely ignored. And the London Free Press is similarly ignoring the situation. This is the democracy that my uncle fought in WWII and died for?

    A former executive member of the NDP (President London-Middlesex, Secretary London-South, Manager London Community Office). Having had personal experience with unemployment, poverty, homelessness, suicidal depression, substance abuse, etc., I believe that I can bring a much-needed perspective to City Hall, and can advocate on behalf of the increasingly large population of disenfranchised citizens who are currently so poorly represented.

    Date: Thu, 18 May 2006 14:50:18 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Public Transit
    To: pmcleod@thelondoner.ca, bbenedict@thelondoner.ca

    Phil,

    To begin with, thanks and admiration to you and Mr. Benedict for the article on public transit.

    I talked to Mr. Ford at the White Oak’s Mall public participation demo yesterday, and suggested that the LTC has to be much more pro-active in getting out to the public and preaching it’s message in order to educate and change public opinion. I had not yet seen the article, so I wasn’t able to comment at that time when he referred to it.

    I would like to take the opportunity to do so now.

    Without demonstrated public support, City Council will continue to pour millions of dollars into road extensions and widenings while underfunding our bus system. London is addicted to private automobile travel, and history has shown that politicians who cater to that selfish indulgence are rewarded. The best example of that is probably Tom Gosnell’s support of the Horton Street extension.

    There’s always a lot of talk about high taxes, especially at election time. But how many people make the effort to carefully study how those taxes are spent? How many people truly understand the extent to which the taxpayer subsidizes private auto travel, including indirect subsidies like on-street parking, public parking lots, etc?

    I keep hearing the same mantra being trotted out time and again, that the city *will* grow considerably and that we must plan and build for that. But where’s the discussion about whether such growth is good, or sustainable, or inevitable? It’s like we’re being brainwashed to have a defeatist attitude about growth, so that we will meekly follow where our so-called “leaders” want to take us.

    Mr. Ford has repeated the same “good news” message at several recent meetings that I’ve attended, that LTC ridership is up over the past 9 years. I don’t dispute the factualness of that message, or the probable strategy behind it’s being delivered, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. And the rest of the story is very important.

    LTC ridership was 18,761,000 in 1988. But thanks to the political pressure of the 0%-tax increase coalition, Council’s attitude toward increased support of public transit and other necessary services became very negative. The result was that LTC made a decision to increase user rates, and the results were predictable. Ridership decreased year after year for the next 8 years! From a ridership level of only 11,905,000 in 1996, we are only now in 2006 finally getting back to that 1988 level.

    But even that stat is deceiving, because the city has grown considerably since then. Whereas the 18,761,000 riders in 1988 represented a very modest mode share of 10%, the 18,276,000 riders which the service attracted in 2005 only represent a mode share of 7%. In order to match projected population growth and simply recapture the 10% share, the TDM estimates that ridership has to grow an average 600,000 additional rides per year, every year, until 2024.

    How much chance do you suppose there is for that with the current Council?

    In my mind, there is no substitute for political courage. I’m talking about such unpopular strategies as an immediate moratorium on any additional road extensions and widenings, and the abandonment of the Urban Works Reserve Fund. Spend some of that money on increased funding for public transit, a more realistic (increased) budget for Allison Cook (TDM Coordinator), walkway lighting, sewer reconstruction, etc. Oh yes, and let’s also scrap the retention pay for upper-level police so that we can put more cops on the street to help deal with motorists who can’t get across the city in 5 minutes (such a tough life).

    Not such a smart position to take for somebody who wants to be elected perhaps, but where have past populist political positions taken us, besides our crumbling infrastructure?

    Greg Fowler

    Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2006 09:45:37 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Property Taxes
    To: newstalk1290today@cjbk.com

    The consequence of Gosnell’s 0% strategy is a deterioration in services, and an increasing disparity between rich and poor.

    Why are we pitting communities against one another by comparing property tax rates? This is a mug’s game.

    The real problem is the level of taxation at the federal and provincial levels, and redistribution of those taxes to local government.

    Stop blaming City Hall. Pick up your phone and call your MP and your MPP, because that’s where the biggest problem exists.

    2005/12/21.

    London City Council voted this past Monday night to hire a “top-gun” lawyer in order to appeal the OMB decision to redraw London’s ward boundaries.

    According to another local website, George H. Rust-D’Eye is employed by the Toronto law firm of WeirFoulds LLP.

    Here’s the kicker… this same Council, which only spent $80,000 this year lighting walkways where women and other vulnerable citizens are at risk, doesn’t know how much this is going to cost city taxpayers!

    According to reporter Jonathan Sher (“City’s legal tab set to balloon”; London Free Press; 2005/12/21), “London city solicitor Jim Barber says he won’t disclose Rust D’Eye’s hourly rate.

    Responsible for hiring the top-gun lawyer at apparently unlimited cost to London taxpayers:

    Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell, Controller Bud Polhill, Controller Russ Monteith, Controller Gord Hume, Councillor Roger Caranci, Councillor Ab Chahbar, Councillor Bernie MacDonald, Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen, Councillor Rob Alder, Councillor Cheryl Miller, and Councillor Sandy White.

    Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2005 09:14:50 -0500 (EST)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Political Posturing
    To: newstalk1290today@cjbk.com

    Municipal tax increases are absolutely necessary simply in order to keep pace with inflation. Beyond that, increases are also necessary for essential services like public housing, public transit, pathway lighting, police enforcement, crumbling infrastructure, etc.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Greg Fowler (fowgre@yahoo.ca)
    962 Eagle Crescent
    London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7
    (519) 649-0500

    Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 15:17:26 -0500 (EST)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Municipal Budget
    To: jsher@lfpress.com, pberton@lfpress.com

    Mr Sher,

    With so many articles being written about the municipal budget, why is it that the London Free Press continues to promote the idea that this is simply a (1) pay down the debt, or (2) reduce taxes issue? Why do advocates of a “0% tax increase” like Councillor Paul (and the “London Taxpayers Coalition” for many years) get such wonderful coverage from the Freeps year after year, while those in our community who are most disadvantaged get scant attention paid to them at all?

    How about some articles about the services that are suffering because they’re not getting the financial support from the city that they ought to be getting? And the consequences that that has upon the most disadvantaged members of our community who need those services the most? And the long-term consequence that that fact will have upon the health of our community?

    I invite you to visit my blog (http://ca.geocities.com/fowgre/) and peruse some of the things that have recently drawn my attention. I think you may be especially interested in how I was “ahead of the curve” with respect to walkway lighting and the traffic situation along Commissioners Road East, and the abject failure of local officials to respond to my concerns soon enough.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Greg Fowler (fowgre@yahoo.ca)
    962 Eagle Crescent
    London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7
    (519) 649-0500

    Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 10:59:37 -0500 (EST)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Letter to the Editor
    To: “letters@thelondoner.ca”

    I was pleased to read (Editorial; The Londoner; 2005/11/09) that “…we do not side with those who think the best government is none at all, or that taxes should go forever lower. In fact, sometimes taxes need to go up to pay for goods and services now. Witness the catch up London has been going through because spending was deferred in the 1990s.”

    People who complain about local taxes, and particularly those who advocate 0%-increases year after year, are short-sighted in the extreme. In fact, I’ll go even further and say that they are selfish and harmful to our community.

    Given the financial reality that cost of living increases is a reality that bites us every year, those who argue for no increased local taxes are really calling for a reduction in local services. Reduced policing, reduced fire protection, reduced public transit, reduced social housing, reduced… You get the idea. What about the fallout from all of that reduction? What about the people who are most financially disadvantaged and whose ability to function in our society is directly dependent upon public programs? What about increased costs in the absence of those public programs?

    When you pay local taxes, you get an immediate return on your investment. You can see where that money is (or isn’t) being spent, and it’s fairly easy to influence local politicians about those expenditures if you’re willing to make the effort to do so.

    Contrast that to the taxes that you pay to the provincial and federal governments. And next time that you feel like complaining about your taxes, consider firing off a letter to Dalton McGuinty who has the dubious distinction of breaking more election promises than any previous Premier in Ontario political history. Or consider sending a rant to the federal Liberals, under whose stewardship so many millions have been improperly (perhaps even illegally) mismanaged.

    Don’t complain about local taxes. It’s akin to shooting yourself in your own foot.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Greg Fowler (fowgre@yahoo.ca)
    962 Eagle Crescent
    London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7
    (519) 649-0500

    Date: Sat, 23 Apr 2005 11:56:52 -0400 (EDT)
    From: “Gregory Fowler”
    Subject: Provincial Funding
    To: “Chip Martin”
    CC: “Morris, Meagan”

    London may be receiving $13.1 million more in transfer payments, but exactly how much has provincial restructuring and downloading cost us? What about intangibles like health care that we’re entitled to but not getting because of the doctor shortage? hospital bed shortage? What about the police services that we’re entitled to but not getting because of a shortage of graduates from police college, which then leads to immoral “retention” bonuses for local senior police officers?

    When the politicians talk about municipalities “receiving” more in transfers for a particular period, do they really mean that those dollars were actually transferred already, or that they had simply been announced? or re-announced?

    Given the demonstrated unethical behaviour of so many of our “leaders” in government and business and religion in recent years, we need to have critical news reporting more than ever before. It’s a shame that what we get too often, is simply entertainment disguised as news.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Greg Fowler (fowgre@yahoo.ca)
    962 Eagle Crescent
    London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7

    Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 09:42:36 -0500 (EST)
    From: “Greg Fowler”
    Subject: Government Incompetence
    To: chapman@cjbk.com

    Jim,

    Is there a reason that you point an accusatory finger at the Federal and Provincial governments, but neglect to mention our local politicians?

    In order to disguise the natural consequence of their massive and irresponsible investment in capital projects, they have instructed that police, fire, etc. should comply with an arbitrarily imposed limitation on any budget increases. Regardless of need.

    Take the police budget, as just one example. We know that the complement of officers is insufficient for them to properly fulfill their responsibilities. And now we hear that the Feds are imposing additional responsibilities with respect to gun control. So now what? Robbery, home invasions, etc will become more attractive career choices because the cops won’t be able to respond? An increase in Toronto-like vehicle/pedestrian accidents and deaths because there’s no traffic enforcement? But of course, those around the horseshoe will shrug their shoulders and say “we don’t have any control over the police, how they do their job.”

    No money for social housing, for bylaw enforcement, for keeping the multi-million dollar library open on Sundays, etc, etc, etc…

    Where did they get the mandate to cut services? Which member of this Council ran on that platform? Because I’ll be dammed if I can recall a single one of them who did.

    Maintain services. If that results in an increase in taxes, so be it. The electorate will then decide whether or not the capital investments were as intelligent as they’re being portrayed.

    Greg Fowler (grefow@yahoo.ca)

    Cashless Public Transit?

    February 16, 2005

    Although there is no such thing as “free,” I like to encourage people to consider the concept of a cashless LTC. I have been promoting the idea for at least 20 years, despite the sad fact that most people are too selfish to support it.

    If people are paying for something, they are more likely to use it. In recent years there has been a limited hybrid of the concept, where all Fanshawe and UWO students automatically pay a reduced price for a season’s pass through their tuition fees. By all accounts, it is popular and well-used by those students.

    Economies of scale. How much money would be saved by dispensing with cash/ticket boxes on buses? By eliminating the downtown ticket sales office? By eliminating the cost of manufacture/ordering/administration of tickets and transfers? These are not rhetorical questions. I’ve had no luck getting answers from the LTC, but I’m not easily dissuaded when I believe in something.

    By moving to a cashless system, improving service, and raising taxes to cover the cost, people would have a real incentive to get out of their private automobiles. Billions of dollars could be saved by markedly reducing the cost of roads expanison and maintenance.

    The feds should be hard-pressed to financially support the idea, in light of their supposed support for Kyoto and their supposed concern for the environment. Because London’s public transit system is the worst of any comparably-sized community that I have ever been in, this would make an excellent test market.

    Concurrently, substantial user fees should be levied by the municipality against those citizens who insist on operating their private automobiles. It isn’t rational for us to continue subsidizing citizen behavior which is so obviously destructive. The ever-increasing outward expansion to the ‘burbs and associated costs, undermining the financial viability of the city core and our older, more central neighbourhoods, is insane!

    Links:
    2002/08/11 – The Age: … get the public back into the transport system
    2007/07/05 – The Tyee:
    2007/07/10 – EcoStreet: