Category Archives: Municipal Policy

Quality Trumps Quantity in Candidate Choices

During the last municipal election I wrote an opinion/editorial piece on the embarrassingly few number of candidates that there were running for office. Part two to the piece was a less than subtle warning that London would likely end up with a very similar, if not identical, Council to the one before it. Voila!
This year, amazingly and perhaps not too surprisingly, the total opposite has happened. With no less than 14 candidates vying for the Mayor’s post and 74 seeking ward representation around the horseshoe, we should collectively applaud all those who took up the challenge. Was it because we have so many vacancies, so many incumbents not seeking re-election, or is it simply that many in this group of hopefuls has had enough of the status quo? Either way the big winner here seems to be the democratic process that defines us as a country.
But quantity alone will not be the differentiator when it comes to governing a billion dollar corporation. For those ultimately voted into the job, there has to be, or should be, considerable skill involved with a good measure of judgment, instinct, experience, fairness, collegiality, strategic thinking and tough mindedness if we are to have any optimism that this next council can do any better than the last.

That said, I have often been asked, exactly what then are the skills and experiences one needs to be a successful mayor or councilor? I wish that I had an exact, scientific response for that question but the problem is it doesn’t exist. There are however, some conventional thoughts that bear repeating and may serve as a guide for voters to contemplate as they make up their minds on who to vote for on Monday, October 27th.

If I could provide any advice at all on what, in my view, would make a quality candidate it would look something like this:
They must be a Strategic Thinker

A modern, effective Council should be populated with people who know how to think strategically, who get the bigger picture and can focus on the really important issues facing our community – like jobs and growth in the industrial, commercial, and residential sectors not what colour to paint the washrooms at the lawn bowling facility. The City has a talented and competent staff – they need to be left to do what they do best while a councilor should focus on strategic objectives, visions, and goals.

They all must Think Bottom Line

Yes, I know the City isn’t a business per se but, it should always try to employ best business practices. With a $900 million+ annual budget it simply has to run more business-like in all aspects of its operations. At the very least, candidates should have a working knowledge of how to read a profit and loss statement, a balance sheet, and a budget, as well as the reporting mechanisms associated with all of them. And all of the above should be performed with the inescapable truth that all of the money that they are dealing with, does not belong to them.

They will need to be Team Players

This includes being able to work with others in meetings and on committees and being able to complete any tasks on time that they agree to do. Grandstanding works well at the county fair, but it doesn’t work in council chambers. Oh yes, and if they lose their issue, position, or cause, they should stand down their opinions and re-join the team. Everyone agrees that a fulsome debate of the issues is healthy and democratic, but once it’s over the City needs a Council that can move forward as one.
They need to be Good Communicators

Skills here should include good listening and interpersonal skills, public speaking skills, the ability to articulate a thought and being able to accept alternative points of view as well as the ability to negotiate, mediate, and resolve conflict. Being aligned on an issue or challenge is far more achievable than securing agreement or consensus.
They need to be Problem Solvers and Analytical Thinkers

This includes being able to get to the bottom of an issue and to think of different ways to resolve it, including advantages and disadvantages of each – always with the best interest of the taxpayer at the top of their agenda.

They will have to have Guts and Conviction

Throwing one’s support behind the next shiny bobble or genius idea from out in left field may feel good in the moment but the next morning they will still be faced with critical issues such as London’s growing infrastructure deficit (pegged at $51 million in 2013/14). It takes guts and courage to vote for the right things even when it hurts and even when it’s not as popular.
They must have Good Organizational Skills

These should include being able to plan and manage their time, keep appointments and meet deadlines. The workload of a councilor is not getting any lighter or less important. We hear all too often that the workload is overwhelming. Only good organizational skills will keep a councilor ahead of the curve and in tune with the city’s priorities.
They must be able to Engage with the Local Community

They will need to make themselves available through meetings, the media (including social media), the internet, public forums, on the phone and of course, face to face.

They should know the Law or at least know who does

Much of what they are charged to do will have some legal ramifications so it’s important that they have some working knowledge or experience with legal matters and an awareness of the risks and potential rewards of a change. The Law of Unintended Consequences is always in full effect, and a bad decision can undermine years of hard work and thousands of dollars that homeowners and business owners have invested in their properties. When in doubt, they can refer to the City’s legal team, but knowledge in this area will help to execute decisions much more quickly and efficiently and keep the City out of the courts.

They need to demonstrate Sound Oversight

An efficient and effective Council needs people on it who will seek out independent resources to research issues and to get a second opinion on information it receives from the city’s administration or other levels of government. Yes it costs money but it is also necessary. They will need to be open minded about new positions like Ethics Commissioners, Integrity Commissioners, and Municipal Auditor Generals as they are fast becoming the norm in modern, well-functioning cities.

These are by no means the complete list of all of the skills and attributes a councillor or mayor could or should have. In fact, it’s doubtful that any one person would possess all of them. But if we want a progressive, forward thinking Council that is looking forward and not stuck in the past, I would look for candidates who have a good many of them. Food for thought before we place our marks on the ballot sheet.

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Performing Arts Centre “To be or not to be”….Again!

Since the news broke about the likelihood of a new performing arts centre potentially making its way onto the City Budget stage, I have been asked on numerous occasions what the Chamber’s position on it (them) is. Fact is – we don’t have a position……not exactly! What we do have are some very specific recommendations that were forwarded to the Council and Senior Administration that can best be characterized as ‘Due Diligence Guidelines’ for capital projects, including performing arts centres.
For the record, I am a big supporter of the arts and I do appreciate the value and quality of life that performing arts bring to a community. I am however, an even bigger fan of the ‘business case’ that should be applied to any and all such projects before I, or the Chamber can fully air our support or concerns. Basic questions like the number of real net new jobs, the cost of borrowing, the annual cost to taxpayers for upkeep, and the predicted operating losses that all such facilities in Canada have experienced as well as the unintended consequences of lost revenue in existing facilities like the Wolf Theatre, the Budweiser Gardens, the Grand Theatre and yes even good old Centennial Hall – all beg answers.

What the Chamber told Council in its letter of July 12th was that “there exists a real opportunity for some transformational changes for our City. And while the list of potential projects is a long one, we have to begin somewhere and with some guidelines that afford us the best opportunity for success while at the same time ensuring there is a strong business case on which to proceed.”
The letter went on to say: “If a city does not change it does not grow and most experts will tell you that if you are not growing you are dying. The age and condition of some of the City’s buildings will also dictate a need for change – sooner or later. There is also the intangible need for change, which in London’s case can be predicated on our economic circumstances, our need to compete, and our need to continually strive to enhance our reputation both nationally and abroad. These types of changes are fundamental to the wellbeing of any City and in particular, London.”

Back then we indicated that the Chamber is quite prepared to offer its expert technical advice on these projects which ultimately will include more in depth analysis on areas including the due diligence associated with the “Financial and Managerial” elements of these proposed projects. In addition we would certainly want to take into consideration a more rigorous evaluation of the “Economic Spinoffs” that may be forthcoming from these projects.

We urged the City to begin with a set criteria that would act as an Initial Review or “first cut” if you will – in other words a basic formula by which the City could select a project(s) that makes the most sense as a starting point. Kudos, they’ve done that.

It’s the view of the Chamber that the Initial Review should be guided by the following recommendations:

1. All external requests for consideration of a project should specifically detail what the City is being asked to contribute, e.g. direct cash contributions, tax concessions, land offerings, modifications to DC charges etc.
2. Suggested Economic Spinoffs must be validated by qualified and quantified data and supported by third party, bona fide experts.
3. A base line formula that establishes for argument sake, a maximum 25% contribution from City coffers against 75% to be contributed by the proponent(s) must be put in place. This may be adjusted under extraordinary circumstances if the case for Economic Spinoffs is exceptionally compelling.
4. Any project that is proposed which has “Bonusing as a condition” should in our view, not be considered a priority project in the first go-around.
5. Proponents of all projects must be able to justify the investment risks of any projects and be prepared to subject their proposals to expert analysis.

The Chamber believes that these recommendations represent common, accepted practices that can and should be in place in both public and private sector settings.

We also want to be on the record in stating that while some of these proposed projects may indeed be transformational for the City of London, their associated costs must be carefully measured against the need to ensure that our basic infrastructure and other community priorities are well managed, well maintained, and well funded now and into the future.

Transformational or not, we’ll need to be convinced that a performing arts centre (if approved) will in no way jeopardize or threaten these basic needs which represent the future economic health of our community. As for the other priority projects being considered which include a $10-million medical research fund aimed at commercialization, the sale of London Hydro land to private developers for commercial and residential use, and the servicing of industrial lands along the 401-402 corridor (long supported by the Chamber) – we will comment on these during the January consultation process.

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Shady Business with a Purpo$e

You would think that planting a million trees in a city that brands itself ‘The Forest City” would be a real walk in the park. But as with all good and noble causes, it’s never easy – in fact it’s a real challenge.

But that is precisely what the good people behind the Million Tree Challenge have taken on. A massive, audacious, in your face challenge that is designed to set London on its ear or more accurately, to put some real numbers behind our Forest City brand.

The mission sounds simple. Convince or inspire Londoners to plant one million trees over the next ten years. Phase one of the mission, calls on every Londoner (about 350,000 of us) to plant one tree over the next three years by the end of 2014. Sounds simple right? Not!

The case for tree planting is a relatively easy sell if you are among the environmentally savvy group we like to call tree huggers. There I said it. But the fact is they already get it (the mission). The challenge for the Million Tree group is not with this group, the challenge is with business and industry to get on board and move the numbers over the top.

Yes there are some outstanding examples of businesses and corporations that already do a great job of planting trees in a strategic, well thought out manner. Trojan Technologies, Trudell Medical and Union Gas all come to mind. But, sadly they are among the few that have a plan and a corporate philosophy behind their plantings. And, there are a vast number of homeowners and home builders that do an equally good job. Here again, not enough of them to get the job done.

So why trees in the first place and is London really in a position to lay claim to the Forest City mantle? Actually – not so much. While it’s true that London has 4.4 million trees and a leaf cover of over 24%, sadly we are well below the 40% recommended leaf cover according to the American Forests and with only 7.3% woodland cover we are not even close to the 30% recommended by Environment Canada.

So what to do and what exactly is the business case for a million trees? Why would the Chamber guy bother to write about it? Well it’s really quite simple. Trees make money and they save money. And trees cost money too. In fact if we had to replace London’s trees within our Urban Growth Boundary, the tab would be an eye-popping $1.5 billion.

Trees as we know are the lungs of our cities and towns and one mature tree produces enough oxygen for 4 people each year. Planted near buildings and homes, trees save Londoners over $1.7 million a year in heating and cooling costs and act as a windbreak in the winter reducing heating and cooling costs by as much as 30%.
Trees can and do increase property values by as much as 20% and just one tree over a 50 year period creates $62,000 worth of pollution control. And trees are a natural storm water management system catching and holding water in their leaves and roots. Trees and other vegetation break the fall of the water and ease its impact on the ground below. And roots hold the soil in place.

Trees fight air pollution in more ways than one. By reducing temperatures, they slow chemical processes that raise the ozone level. Studies at California’s Lawrence Berkely Laboratory indicate 30 percent of a city’s air pollution is related to increased temperatures. The studies show that each degree above 72 degrees increases smog chances by 6 percent. San Antonio for instance, is near the level of air pollution at which federal law can start limiting the construction of new factories. So air pollution is very directly related to our economic development. Could this happen in London? Food for thought.

Trees also fight pollution by taking tons of carbon dioxide out of the air, holding on to the carbon and releasing oxygen.
In the retail sector, trees (or their absence) can have a huge influence on visual preference, place perceptions, patronage behaviors and product pricing. Studies have proven that entertainment and shopping times are increased with trees and that a tree canopy boosts time spent by up to 50%. Consumer preferences are lower without trees, higher with (large) trees and product pricing goes up as consumers are willing to pay
9-12% higher with trees than without – who knew?

Certainly London is not unique in its challenge of maintaining or growing a healthy urban forest. Like other cities the pressures of land use, growth, tree diseases and pests, road construction and vandalism are just some of the threats to our urban forests. But many of these same cities (even those without Forest in their name) have accepted the challenge and have begun an aggressive campaign to plant trees and add to their leaf cover.

Should London do any less? I certainly hope not. After all we have a brand to protect, future generations to consider, and a solid business case for getting on board. For my money, London’s Million Tree Challenge is exactly what we need in this City but we’ll need to act fast if we want to achieve our collective goal of 1 million trees by 2021.

Want to be part of a really sensible, audacious grassroots (okay tree roots) movement? Then simply get on board and be part of the Million Tree Solution. Just go to http://www.milliontrees.ca and get started. London the Forest City is counting on you.

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Why the EU-Canada deal needs to happen

For reasons that still leave me, and many Londoners puzzled if not totally baffled, London’s City Council voted last night to send a message to Ottawa that they want no part of the looming Canada-European Union Free Trade Deal. Huh??

Let me get this straight, London City Council, who’s members complain regularly that they have too much on their plate and can’t make the committee meetings that already have scheduled, have elected to engage in a debate that is totally under the purview of the Federal Government and the results of which will not alter the outcome of the deal one iota. It somewhat analogous to the Feds debating over which potholes the City should fix in what order.
In fact the only outcome of last night’s debate is that we have once again sent a very negative message to the rest of the world that we are simply not interested in being a part of the very competitive global marketplace.

And it’s this repeatedly schizophrenic attitude on the part of Council that drives our business community crazy. On the one hand, we send our Mayor and a delegation of London business leaders to Japan, Korea, and China for the express purpose of opening new markets for our own exporters while at the same time attempting to attract new capital and jobs to come to London. Then you get a decision like last night’s that seems in total contrast to the Mayor’s (Council supported) mission to Asia.
Similarly, we claim we want to be on the world stage by attracting such events as the World Figure Skating Championships but we don’t want to be part of that same world stage when it comes to commerce. Go figure.

For the record, the Chamber has urged the Government to simply maintain the momentum towards concluding negotiations (emphasis on the negotiations part because that’s what governments do when they enter these deals), the details of which are comprehensive and very difficult.
Canada’s business community supports an EU-Canada agreement because it gives us an opportunity to preserve and enhance our economic well being by facilitating growth, innovation, and expansion in foreign trade and investment.

In fact Canada has a business sector that includes many world class companies and firms in sectors such as services, advanced manufacturing, and high technology. Canada also has a highly skilled work force. In order to capitalize on these advantages, we cannot confine ourselves to our domestic market.
A comprehensive agreement with the EU has the potential of boosting Canada’s income by $12 billion annually and increasing bilateral trade by 20 percent. The EU is already Canada’s second largest trading partner and the world’s largest importing market for goods, more than 2.7 times larger than the United States.

London manufacturers make products today that embody inputs that originate from many countries. Businesses need to have access to globally competitive inputs in order to remain competitive. Barriers to entry increase the cost of these inputs, thus increasing the cost to those consumers who have no alternative products to turn to, or forcing businesses to locate outside of Canada.

As we debate the pros and cons of the EU-Canada deal, other competitor countries have already entered into an economic and trade agreement with the EU, including Mexico – a NAFTA country. Others will follow. Just what we needed – Mexico with an advantage over Canada.

An agreement with the EU will further expand the global supply chain that London businesses can participate in and have access to, not to mention that the agreement would give Canadian/London businesses preferential access to more than 500 million consumers.

Although there are more issues on the table for this agreement than there were with NAFTA, they remain fundamentally about the rules of competition. They are issues that we will face in other trade talks, such as those dealing with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This is the time to devise a framework on how to address these issues for not only this agreement but also with an eye to future multilateral and bilateral agreements. In dealing with these issues, we need to ensure that we maintain our focus on fairer, more open competition. Failing to do so will, in our view, reduce opportunities for a generation of Canadians and hamper a much needed private-sector-led growth in an era of fiscal austerity.

London City Council voted against supporting the deal because they said they did not have enough details. And, like City Council, we want more details as well. Unfortunately, all we (the City Council) have succeeded in doing is letting the rest of the world know that London is either not interested in being a part of a much larger economic global village or that we prefer to pass judgment before we have the facts. Either message will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those counties that we might have partnered with. Sometimes the best message is to say nothing.

In my view, while we await the outcome of these talks, Londoners would be better served by a Council whose focus is on property taxes, infrastructure, emergency services, affordable housing, development charges and a host of other municipally controlled expenses and leave the job of negotiating free trade deals with the appropriate levels of government.

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New Year’s Resolutions for Governments

As we head into yet another year of bleak to modest at best economic performance forecasts – I would love to have 12 pages of space to write down all of the resolutions I would like to see all three levels of government pledge to act on in the New Year. Wishful thinking aside, and with full understanding of the kind of economic turmoil that will persist around the globe, what follows are my limited but vital requests from our governments.

In Ottawa, the feds should resolve to continue the good work they have started with the US government in trying to reduce border delays between our two countries. They should also aggressively resolve to act on the implementation of a long-term infrastructure plan for Canada – one that has an investment strategy that includes solid funding models and increased private sector involvement. They should also resolve to remove disincentives that discourage seniors from working as a key strategy in avoiding the looming skills crisis.

And of course the feds will also resolve to not add any more to the national deficit even though they now tell us it will take two years longer than planned to balance the books. How you ask? Same as you and I. Don’t spend what you don’t have.

At the Provincial level, their resolutions (and quite rightly) should be far more abrupt. “We shall not under any circumstances spend any more than we take in” – EVER!

Ontario’s debt has become so obscene that we may soon be calling on Greece or Italy for financial advice. All kidding aside, Ontario’s soon to be $258 billion debt is the elephant in the room. And what’s worse is we keep adding to the total at a rate of $59 million each and every day. Imagine how many more things we could resolve in this province if we were not paying down that debt at a rate of $10.3 billion a year. Unbelievable!

It’s clear that Ontario’s debt is anything but sustainable and the only way we’ll ever get it under control is when we stop adding to it with chronic deficits. So if the revenue is not coming in as expected, your only alternative is to start cutting costs, but where to begin? In business the answer is quite simple – Everywhere and Anywhere. Does it get any simpler?

Locally there are a number of resolutions I would love to see Council pledge to act on. One would be to adopt a standard formula around the perennial issue of what to do with year-end surpluses. Far better this approach – than the annual drama that’s played out on Council’s stage that drives administration and most of the community nuts. It’s not that complex to figure out and many communities have already adopted the formula model to avoid such antics.

My resolution number two for Council would be to find a more diplomatic and sensitive way to tell would-be investors that their offers on our most prized industrial lands just don’t fit with our strategic development directions. Again, a standardized response delivered early in the game would surely avoid those nasty nose bleeds we seem to want to give ourselves in the media each time these events happen. Moreover, it may also prevent the internal bleeding we don’t see as some investors go away from London with the impression that we are in fact not open for business. And oh by the way, they can and do tell their friends.

Lastly, Council should resolve to take concrete action, if, as they claim, job creation is really Job #1 in London. And to create jobs you need to prime the jobs pump and that pump needs money – plain and simple. If we really want to put our money where our job creating mouths are, Council will need to re-align its priorities. How? By bringing funding levels for economic development and attraction up to at least per capita averages with those jurisdictions that we compete with. They will need to set aside more funds for economic development missions abroad in countries that hold the greatest promise for future foreign direct investments into London. Countries like Korea, China, Japan and Germany will need a lot more of our attention and time and both take more money along with patient (very patient) relationship building.

And we don’t need new money to fund these opportunities. What we do need is a full-on re examination of the funding we presently give to a wide array of external boards, commission and organizations who receive money from the City of London. To be frank, if they do not provide a demonstrable economic or social ROI to the City then monies will need to flow from them and go to where that ROI can be achieved and that is economic development.

It’s a proven fact that economic development does attract investment which does create jobs which does increase the City’s assessment which can eventually be channeled right back to those organizations that will need it in the future.

Yes, it’s the classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, but in this environment we need what Paul has to offer a lot more than what Peter is selling. Happy New Year to you both.

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Transportation Study … it’s time!

I’m typically not a big fan of studies especially when the issue has already been studied to death and where the outcomes have almost always been the same as in previous studies. Classically, London’s oft-studied Ring Road, Centennial Hall’s Future and the Damned Dam come to mind.

Where studies can be of enormous value, (especially those conducted by recognized third-party professionals) is when an issue or challenge becomes so apparent and so daunting that there appears to be no clear cut solutions coming out of the usual quarters such as City Hall or Queen’s Park.

In the case of London’s transportation corridors and the various services and technologies that support them, a comprehensive study would certainly seem in order. No one I talk too boasts about London’s efficient, smooth flow of traffic. No one I talk to brags about how courteous and patient London’s drivers are, and no one I know is thrilled about the productivity of our business sector when thousands of cars a day are left idling for up to twenty minutes a pop while waiting for the trains to go by, not to mention our generous contribution to greenhouse gases.

In tandem with the stated hopes and aspirations of other plans such as the Downtown Core Study, the London Transit Study, the Downtown Parking Study and yes even the 12 year old Millennium Plan – a well crafted Transportation study could be the catalyst for what may just end up looking sorta, kinda, like a strategic plan or a strategic vision for London. The point simply, is by not doing these things together in a concerted, strategic way you end up with a bunch of plans that are disconnected and less likely to vault you into the league of “leading communities”.

In my view the time has come for us to engage leading experts in transportation planning to tell us if we really do, or don’t have an effective traffic light system in the city. If we do or don’t have an efficient, well located transit system that both serves its customers while at the same time allows for the efficient flow of regular vehicular traffic. Whether we do or don’t have an efficient and effective roads system that enables pedestrians, cyclists and cars to move freely and safely throughout the community without excessive bottlenecking and unacceptable idling time.
I have driven in every province and dozens of states and in most you can easily make a left hand turn at the lights because they are timed such that 30 to 40 cars can safely make that turn.

The reason we have too few of those in London (and even if you can find one you would be hard pressed to get one or two cars through), is, according to those in charge – “the majority rules rule”. Well frankly that’s just not a good enough answer.

Surely we can do better or at least as good as what others are doing. While majority rules may be convenient, it does not address the excess road rage that is created when you are the poor devil who gets stuck in the intersection
because of the one-car-at-a-time rule and then has to decide to run the red or be crashed into by oncoming traffic. And not to mention the 10 to 20 cars behind that driver who won’t make it through either and are left idling away still spewing all that lovely stuff into our atmosphere.

And please don’t get me started on lost productivity. Those same cars stuck in turn lanes or at rail crossings are people just like you and I. They have jobs to get to, appointments to keep, purchases to make, and banking to be done. It’s called commerce and we are doing none of it while sitting in traffic. And don’t get me wrong, I, more than most, get the connection between the bustling rail cars that crisscross our city and the tremendous contribution that they (and their manufactured freight) bring to our local economy. This is anything but a rail against the railways. I’m simply saying that there has to be a better way, a better answer.

I don’t know about you but increasingly I find myself being bogged down in traffic and not just at the typical drive times. Oxford Street from Wonderland to Adelaide can often take you upwards of a half an hour any time of day. Wellington, Wonderland, Commissioners and Wharncliffe are also seeing their share of increased traffic snarls and bottlenecks – and this is on a regular basis not just during the construction season.

Even traffic in the Big Smoke seems to move more efficiently and more intelligently than ours. Londoners once used to joke that we had a “Rush Half-Hour”. The truth is it’s no longer a half an hour and it’s no longer a joke. We have some serious traffic issues and I fear they are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Let’s park the “majority rules” theory for a minute and concentrate instead on an intelligent, strategic, intuitive transportation plan that respects safety, the environment, volume, time of day and oh yes – commerce. It’s time for a professional, expert, third party study.

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A Letter About Parking

My blog this week is simply a direct re-publication of a letter from a Mr. James Reese about his experience with parking in our core. It speaks volumes about our current situation and I suspect his views are shared by many even if they didn’t take the time as Mr. Reese has done to share his ominous view of what our downtown will look like if we don’t address this problem and soon.
Dear Gerry,

I went to London last Saturday to see the play, “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.” The play was well done, and the Grand Theater quite accommodating.

Earlier, I went with some friends to the Gigs Grillhouse. I parked in a parking lot just around the corner. I put $5 into the meter, thinking that should take care of at least three hours. I was astounded when $5 only bought me an hour’s worth of parking.

I went back to the parking lot to get another parking slip, but an attendant was on duty at the time. I said I needed to stay an extra hour, and how much would it be? He said, “We have a flat rate of $20!” I looked at him and said, “No thanks. I’m not paying $25 for two hours of parking!”

I found a place on the street with no parking meters, and by that time, I didn’t care if I got a ticket or not. I was fed up.

I writing this email to you because whether you know it or not, excessive parking fees and parking tickets will kill your downtown economy, and it looks like the “killing process” is well underway.

Parking meters killed the town where I grew up. The city’s leaders wouldn’t face the truth until it was too late. Who was going to put up with high fees and having to outrun the parking cop when you could go to a mall or shopping center and skip all of that aggravation?

So, I’m telling you–I won’t be back to London until the city government does something about parking. People know when they are being gouged, and they resent it. They will vote with their pocketbooks and will take their business elsewhere. I repeat: nothing kills a downtown quicker than excessive parking fees.

London and other cities could get away with it in the 50s and 60s, but not any more. There are too many alternatives today.

The parking lot operators are making money at the expense of your restaurants and other businesses. You can either fix the problem, or continue to watch your city’s economy dry up.

Sincerely,

James Reese

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