Evaluating Mayor Matt Brown and council one year into term
Published Friday, October 23, 2015 6:06PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 23, 2015 6:42PM EDT
It's been nearly one year since a seismic shift took place at city hall when Londoners elected an unprecedented 11 new councillors and chose a one-term politician to be mayor. So what's happened?
Municipal affairs author and former controller Gord Hume has been watching the rookie council's development.
"After the debacle of the last council I think everyone was looking for a fresh start and a fresh approach to doing civic business," says Hume.
And blogger and former controller Gina Barber calls the new tone at council "refreshing."
"[Mayor Matt Brown] doesn't dominate the council like Fontana did, but there are times when leadership is needed and I'm not sure it's there," she says.
Brown was surprised its been a year already, saying "We've done a lot and faced a lot of tough decisions."
There have been challenges; only weeks into the job Orchestra London financially collapsed, there was a long and bitter strike by inside workers, many questioned how to answer the arrival of the Uber ride-sharing app and an ill-advised attempt to influence community mailbox locations.
But council has shown no fear taking on issues that caused their predecessors to stumble including overnight parking, food trucks and the Springbank Dam.
"I haven't seen this council hit many triples or home runs yet and I think Londoners are looking for that now," says Hume.
But is that a fair analogy?
"When we were door to door just one year ago we heard very clearly from the citizens of London they were looking for a council that could provide stability, focus and develop and plan to move our community forward," says Brown.
"I get his newsletters but it's mostly about shaking hands and when you get to cut the ribbons," quips Barber.
"I think Matt has done a good job in his first year. I think people however still want to know his vision for London. What does he want to do to drive this council and city forward," adds Hume.
But Brown retorts, "There are a number of plans in place, certainly they were defined this year and now it's about implementing them over the course of the next three."
Brown says on the horizon they will ratify the London Plan, move ahead with rapid transit and look at Project Downtown, including a pedestrian-flexible Dundas Street and a revamp of the forks based on the Back to the River competition.
"It will be interesting now to see who emerges on council as the leaders, what agendas they want to push forward," says Hume.
"We get feedback each and every day and I'm sure we'll get feedback at the end of the term as well," says Brown.