February 22, 2017
London’s downtown is a significant economic and cultural driver. It is:
• Made up of over 1000 businesses;
• Home to over 55,000 employees; and,
• The source of $1 billion in taxable assessments annually.
Downtown London is connector and catalyst between partners and projects in the region to ensure progressive policies, bold investments and smart growth. We advocate for projects that benefit our members and the downtown, and through them, London’s economy.
We recognize that at this stage in the SHIFT Rapid Transit project, the consultants for the environmental assessment are working at a very high level, as is our organization.
We are looking forward to actively participating inthe detailed decisions being made throughout the process, in particular surrounding downtown routes. Because of this, we are very committed to ensuring the consultants develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of how buildings and businesses on each route operate, to minimize or help mitigate construction disruption.
This responsibility includes ensuring we monitor project progress and all decisions being considered; identify where we are in lock step with consultant recommendations, and communicate when we have conflicts to work through to ensure productive and amicable resolutions.
Within the downtown boundaries, we have many businesses and routes that have unique concerns and issues. We acknowledge that this is a city-wide initiative, with enormous potential benefits to all areas of the community, and we will consider our feedback with this lens. This may mean not advocating for each and every individual issue.
In this project, as in all major infrastructure investments in and around the downtown, we commit to being a key partner to help manage communications, minimize disruption and ensure business retention.
We recognize and appreciate that much of this work includes major infrastructure investments that would need to be done regardless of Rapid Transit implementation.
We will continue to inform our members and encourage all stakeholders to have their concerns heard at public meetings, on the SHIFT website, or in writing to our office, so we can ensure that the individual and collective voices of downtown are heard.
We appreciate the opportunity to continue to share our perspectives, and the thoughtful process with which the City is approaching these important decisions.
Chair, London Downtown Business Association
Chair, MainStreet London
CEO, Downtown London
CONTEXT: Excerpts from original submission (May 2016)
On behalf of the board and management team of Downtown London, we are pleased to submit our position on rapid transit.
A best-in-class city requires - and deserves - a best-in-class transit system. Whether on wheels or on rails, Downtown London is advocating for a modern rapid transit system, which above all, focuses on a high quality experience, and:
1. Is operationally efficient and arrives with frequency and speed
2. Effectively supports both daytime commuters and the nighttime economy
3. Is attractive, flexible and adaptable as ridership increases
4. Can be supported by a comprehensive business case
When we talk about experience, efficiency and effectiveness, we are unequivocally focused on a solution of stellar quality. This includes routes that make sense for downtown, high quality vehicles and stations, and a high quality operational partner. For any rapid transit solution to be successful, there must be a high degree of alignment, in both vision and operational planning, between the City of London and the operator.
It is no secret that London is far behind in our transit offerings. It’s time to catch up and to plan for the future. In some ways, our community has history of settling for the “Chevy that works” instead of shooting for an attractive, future-forward model.
With the most transformative infrastructure project in London’s history, we cannot let that be the case. Similarly, we should not let ourselves be seduced by the strategies of other communities or by what we perceive is the “sexiest” technology. This has to be a solution that is uniquely designed for London, one that meets our current needs, builds for the future by considering other major infrastructure investments already underway, and can be completed in a timely and budget-wise way.
Our board has examined the business case for BRT/LRT which is limited to capital expenditures. It represents a significant step forward, in particular if it allows for flexibility and adaptability as ridership increases.