Let's Think Bigger

I believe in the immense power of grassroots democracy. I believe that as the closest available representative, it's a Councilor's job to assist grassroots advocacy in their community the best they can. As your Councilor, my role will include helping our community pursue the things that matter to you even when they aren’t a part of City Hall’s mandate.

But I also believe that City Hall can do more to enrich the lives of Londoners and build a city our kids will be proud to inherit. And I can’t wait to talk to you about what that might look like.

In the coming days, I'll be updating this section with some of the things Londoners get passionate about when we’re encouraged to think bigger. Have anything to add? Send me an email (brcharlebois@gmail.com) with your thoughts, or suggest a meeting! I’d love to hear from you.

Today's City Council needs to plan for tomorrow. We need to be thinking about the city our kids will inherit and the opportunities that city will create for them. Similarly sized cities nearby are investing heavily in things like public transit, infrastructure and arts & culture. They're building cities that will be attractive to future generations. Tomorrow's job creators are looking for forward-thinking places to set up shop. And tomorrow's talent, thousands of whom pass through London every year, are looking for forward-thinking places to call home.

We live in a beautiful city, but London has the potential to be so much more. Let's build a more liveable city with better infrastructure and better public transit. Let's help our growing arts & culture scene take off. Let's celebrate our Made in London small businesses and help local business grow and thrive. Let's work to connect the surrounding areas to London, and London to the GTA by advocating for regional transit and high speed rail. Let's work towards smarter, cleaner, more vibrant cities. And let's ask our local political leaders to do more - to champion grassroots politics, to get more Londoners engaged and to advocate for the things we care about.

An exciting music scene and thriving arts and culture scene are crucial to attracting and keeping a young, skilled workforce. London has seen growth in recent years, particularly in its music scene. Further investment in music, arts and culture would help liven the downtown core, bring revenue into the city and give talented Londoners a chance to be recognized without having to leave home.

We can do this by expanding the London Music Office and amplifying the City's coordinating efforts for festivals and events. London can be a true music city. We can re-brand around an arts and culture strategy which shows Londoners what their city has to offer, and makes it easier for them to support local talent.

Most Londoners don't realize that we have contemplated a strategy to become a music city. Most would be excited if they knew. Let's double-down, let's invest in London's music economy and let's get Londoners talking about it.

Forward-thinking cities need reliable public transit. It should surprise nobody that London has room to improve hours of service as well as transit service to areas like Byron and Lambeth.

Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, has been the subject of much debate. Council opted not to move ahead with more transformative transit options when they had the chance, and now we have a Bus Rapid Transit plan which has been approved for funding by the federal and provincial governments. BRT is a plan which has not been effectively communicated to the public. Although it is not going to be as dynamic as some of the previous options, it still provides benefit at very little cost to property taxpayers.

BRT decreases travel times across major routes. But more importantly, it provides much more frequent service, making transit more reliable, and reliability is extremely important to transit users. BRT also let's us take advantage of federal and provincial infrastructure funding for road work we were planning on undergoing eventually.

I will advocate for transit service improvements which can make London the type of city it will need to be to remain competitive, and I will work to ensure that the resources realigned as a result of BRT are used to support under-serviced and quickly growing communities like Byron and Lambeth.

City Hall can do more to improve transparency and accountability, and encourage citizen engagement. Creating an online database where Londoners can easily follow debates, track votes and attendance and search for information would make a big difference for those who desire to learn more about local government. This simple step could make it easier for Londoners young and old to learn about their city, discuss things that matter to them and ask the right questions of their political representatives.

Byron and Lambeth are two unique communities which contribute a lot to the character and the economy of our city. One of the strengths of modern, forward-thinking cities is the ability to celebrate and encourage the growth of many different thriving communities under the same roof. Our communities in Ward 9 have untapped potential, and as a Councillor one of my first tasks would be to reach out to local businesses and community associations in order to come together as a united front for each of Byron and Lambeth. The City of London permits the designation of Business Improvement Areas, such as Old East Village and Downtown. Lambeth and Byron are unique culturally and economically and would be good candidates for new BIAs, giving local businesses a greater opportunity to collaborate and ensure that their interests are heard at City Hall.

Sustainability is as important to Londoners as it is to the next generation's job creators who are passionate about leading cleaner, leaner lives. It’s important that we take steps to reduce waste, encourage sustainable development and take responsibility for our own role in climate change, no matter how big or small it may be. We remain the last major city in Ontario without a Green Bin program. This is an initiative that is long overdue.

Sustainable development has implications on other aspects of planning such as how we get around and where we place housing. Encouraging future generations of Londoners to use transit will require more robust, reliable public transit options as well as intensification along transit corridors – two items which were both heavily endorsed by Londoners in consultations for the London Plan.

While we encourage intensification, City Hall also can play a role in advocating for greener building standards such as the inclusion of renewable energy sources and low-carbon or carbon neutral development. And while we develop future-ready cities, it’s important that we protect and maintain clean rivers and the forests and green space that make this city unique.

Safe injection sites have been a topic of much debate in this city, and across the province. These sites are compassionate, practical and forward-thinking. Drug addiction is a mental health problem, and should be treated with harm reduction in mind. And while there is much to be done to address issues of mental health, addictions and poverty at a systemic level, we are currently experiencing a crisis of opioid use across our country and that crisis demands urgent attention. Safe injection sites help prevent senseless deaths, and they help reduce the strain caused by overdoses and the spread of infectious diseases on our healthcare resources. Local representatives need to defend compassionate treatment for addiction sufferers, but they also need to stand up for the taxpayer and for our healthcare system which benefits from the harm reduction model.

Londoners care about a lot of things which, though local, involve other levels of government as well as City Hall. I believe there is more we can do to make London a safe and healthy place to live. I look forward to advocating on issues like access to affordable housing and access to mental health and social services, so that Londoners can feel safe, secure and ready to succeed right here at home.