City celebrates National Tree Day with free giveaway

National Tree Day is Sept. 23 and the City of London, in partnership with ReForest London, is celebrating by giving away complimentary trees.

Saplings in 3-5 gallon pots will be distributed at four locations in London:

  • Argyle Mall (in centre of Clarke Road parking lot; near Staples and The Dollar Tree), 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Masonville Place (access off of Richmond St. near Jacksway Cres.), 5-7 p.m.
  • Westmount Shopping Centre (Wonderland Road parking area), 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • White Oaks Mall (Wal-Mart parking lot near Bradley Avenue), 4-6 p.m.

Some smaller seedlings will also be available at the City of London Planning Services Office at 206 Dundas St. from 12 noon to 1 p.m.

Residents are encouraged to come and pick up a tree for planting on their property in support of the Million Tree Challenge. The challenge is a community-wide initiative to inspire Londoners to plant one million new trees across the city.

“The Million Tree Challenge is a call to action for Londoners to continue to make the Forest City healthier and greener,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “Trees we are planting today will leave a positive and lasting impact in neighbourhoods across London for decades to come.”

A variety of ornamental, native and fruit trees will be available on a first come, first served basis while supplies last.

Assistance with delivery and planting is being offered to persons with a disability. Visit www.london.ca/NationalTreeDay for more information or call 519-661-2500 ext. 4490.

Other Million Tree Challenge Partners will be giving away seedlings at over 30 locations throughout the city.

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Public invited to celebrate London and explore its culture

Experience a world of culture — right at home in the Forest City

The London Arts Council and London Heritage Council are inviting the public to Doors Open London & Culture Days, a free, weekend long event that takes place across 40 different sites throughout the city.

The celebration takes place Sept. 26-27 with 100 interactive arts and heritage activities.

Participants are invited to behind the scenes with artists, creators, historians, architects, and more at work across the community. While discovering local history and taking in breath-taking performances, not to mention indulging in international cuisine, the public is also invited to help set a Guinness World Record for the World’s Longest Human Circuit.

“A vibrant diverse culture inspires communities to be bolder and more creative,” said Andrea Halwa, executive director of the London Arts Council and interim Executive Director of the London Heritage Council. “Doors Open London & Culture Days clearly demonstrates how deeply arts and heritage is woven into the fabric of our city and is a unique way for us to experience culture in London.”

About Doors Open

Doors Open London is a program of the Ontario Heritage Trust’s Doors Open Ontario, which features hundreds of communities participating in events across the province. This event is for Londoners to discover first-hand hidden heritage treasures in their own backyard, some of which have never been open to the public.

Doors Open London is the second largest celebration of Doors Open in Ontario.

About Culture Days

Culture Days is a collaborative, national celebration that raises awareness and engagement in the arts and culture. Over two million people attended Culture Days in Canada last year. Artists and cultural organizations unite with participants across the country to celebrate our culture.

London stands proud as the number one regional city for the presentation of Culture Days activities in Canada.

For information on all participating sites can be found on www.londonculture.ca.

London launches accessibility signage and awareness campaign

The City of London is distributing official accessible parking signs with guidelines to businesses and high-density residential properties at no cost as part of an accessible signage awareness campaign.

There are two goals to this initiative:

  • Encourage businesses and property owners to add or increase accessible parking spaces for their customers and residents
  • Educate the public that only vehicles displaying the designated permit for the use of the permit holder can park in these spaces

“The London Chamber of Commerce is pleased to support this city initiative to provide accessible parking signs not only because we felt it was the right thing to do, but we believe it’s simply good business and good for business,” said Gerry Macartney, CEO London Chamber of Commerce.

“We know that the accessibility community contributes significantly to our local economy and any business which adds accessible parking will expand their customer base and improve their customer’s overall experience,” Macartney said. “The London Chamber of Commerce encourages its members to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Annette Drost, manager of municipal law enforcement services – parking and licensing, said providing accessible parking is good for London businesses and customers.

“The accessibility community supports proactive enforcement of the accessible spaces to ensure the spaces are available for those who need them,” Drost said. “Individuals who park in these spaces without a valid permit will be fined $375 and anyone found to be fraudulently using a permit can be fined up to $5,000.”

Businesses and property owners who would like to take advantage of this limited offer should contact the parking enforcement office at 519-661-4537 or email parkingenforcement@london.ca.

The city will also assist with providing installation specifications and follow up inspections on site at no cost.

Nominations open for the Outstanding London Ambassador Award

The City of London is now accepting nominations for the new Outstanding London Ambassador Award.

This award recognizes and celebrates a London resident, former London resident, business or organization that has brought positive recognition to the Forest City that may result in encouraging people to move to, invest in, or visit our city.

“London has been the birthplace and a place that has raised countless talented individuals who have gone on to make a difference in our country and even around the world,” said Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih. “The reason I proposed this award was so we can celebrate and recognize the achievements of those who continue to call London home, whether they still live here or not.”

Mayor Matt Brown also shared his enthusiasm for not only the award, but for the many Londoners who are eligible for nomination.

“Our community is made up of individuals, organizations and businesses who work hard to help make London a better city to live, work, play, learn and invest in,” Brown said. “This award is an opportunity for us to recognize and thank outstanding Londoners for their contributions to our community.”

Application forms are available online at www.london.ca/ambassadoraward. The deadline for nominations is Saturday, Oct. 31.

London to take aim at world record for longest human circuit

The air in downtown London will be electric this Saturday.

Organizers are hoping 2,000 Londoners will come together in the city’s core on Saturday, Sept. 26, to hold hands, allowing a small electrical current to pass through them, to create the World’s Longest Human Circuit.

Those looking to take part in the record attempt can pre-register online or show up in person as everyone is required to check-in at Dundas and Richmond streets on Saturday morning.

Registration starts at 10 a.m. and individuals are asked to keep an eye out for the big blue MakerBus

That is when each participant will be given a spot to stand along the route. The route will have 2,000 people and is two km long.

This event is organized by the MakerBus — Canada’s first mobile makerspace and technology education classroom.

The MakerBus’s mission is to engage their community in hands-on education with cutting-edge technologies. By creating the world’s longest human circuit, the MakerBus team hopes to show Londoners the amazing things that community collaboration can achieve.

A school in The Woodlands, Texas holds the current record at 1,113 people.

The World’s Longest Human Circuit will be part of the My Dundas Street Festival and Mayor Matt Brown will be one of the 2,000 participants.

All 2,000 participants will be official World Record holders after the event.

To learn more about London’s attempt to break the Guinness World Record for Longest Human Circuit, or to pre-register, visit www.makerbus.ca/worldrecord.

Province to help London and area children and families affected by poverty

The provincial government is investing in locally run projects designed to help improve the lives of people affected by poverty.

Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, who also serves as President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, announced on Sept. 18 funding for eight local organizations in southwestern Ontario through the Local Poverty Reduction Fund.

“With this fund, we are establishing a new way of tackling poverty, one that’s rooted in evidence,” Matthews said. “I’m thrilled to see that these local community organizations are helping us build the body of evidence we need to make sure we are investing in what works and what makes people’s lives better.

Through the poverty reduction fund the Ontario government will provide up to:

  • $275,000 to Literacy Link South Central, to help Ontario Works recipients transition more effectively into the workforce by connecting them with literacy training and employment services
  • $572,000 to the London Family Court Clinic to provide specialized supports for young people involved with the justice system
  • $351,000 to the Middlesex-London Health Unit for a new nursing education program to support vulnerable young mothers and their babies
  • $88,000 to the United Way Centraide Windsor-Essex to increase high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates for students in low-income families
  • $470,000 to Western University to assess and improve the mental health of pre-school children who may be at risk
  • $134,000 to Western University to reduce homelessness among families with dependent children
  • $595,000 to Youth Opportunities Unlimited to support young people who are not in school or training to complete their high school education
  • $360,000 to YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin to support homeless or at-risk youth find safe, long-term housing

With Ontario’s support, these organizations will either pilot new programs and measure their success or evaluate the impact of existing programs on the people who need them most.

Among the organizations receiving funding was the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

The health unit will develop a training centre to educate Ontario public health nurses on how to provide the most vulnerable young mothers and their babies with highly specialized supports during pregnancy and early years to help both parents and children achieve their potential.

“Partnering with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Office will allow us to invest in the health and well-being of our most vulnerable families, in the professional development of public health nurses and the quality of public health programs,” said Dr. Christopher Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and Middlesex-London Health Unit CEO. “This will create an opportunity to develop a Canadian-specific education program designed specifically to provide public health nurses with advanced knowledge and skills to work with families in our communities.”

The province will use evidence gathered from these projects, and others, to support poverty reduction programs across the province that have been proven to work and that can expand over time.

Another beneficiary, Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), will work with two regional school boards to identify young people who have dropped out of high school. Once identified, the goal is to connect these youth with the right services to put them on the path to success.

“These investments come at a time when many people face challenges related to poverty,” said Steve Cordes, YOU executive director. “For YOU, it allows us to look at the unique social enterprises we have created and sharpen them with partners to bring long term poverty relief.”

Ontario’s Local Poverty Reduction Fund supports innovative and sustainable local programs that use community partnerships to support those who are disproportionately affected by poverty, including: women, single parents, people with disabilities, youth, newcomers, visible minorities, seniors and Aboriginal Peoples.

Organizations have two more opportunities to apply for funding in 2016 and 2017.

Mayor establishes advisory panel on poverty

Mayor Matt Brown is bringing together a group of local experts with the goal to take action against poverty.

Announced on Sept. 16 at Goodwill Industries, the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty will develop “action-oriented recommendations” to address issues related to poverty in London.

“We know that poverty is a challenge in London. We also know that many individuals and organizations across the city are doing important work to address the root causes of poverty, focusing on wide-ranging issues from homeless prevention, to employment supports, to food insecurity and more,” Brown said. “We know poverty persists in London. We need to build a strong community for all Londoners. This is about city building — as much as the London Plan, Shift and Back to the River are, this is about building a better city for everyone.”

The objectives of the panel include:

  • Developing a shared understanding of how to address poverty more effectively
  • Mapping efforts currently underway to address poverty in London
  • Identifying gaps and areas requiring significant action
  • Engaging local stakeholders in dialogue on gaps and approaches to address poverty
  • Developing a set of recommendations to better coordinate our collective efforts to address issues related to poverty more effectively throughout London and the areas requiring significant action.

The panel members are, according to a media release, “community leaders with expertise in, and commitment to, addressing poverty in London.”

The panel includes:

  • Helene Berman, professor and associate dean (Research), Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, co-director Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion
  • Deputy Mayor Maureen Cassidy
  • Andrew Lockie, CEO United Way London & Middlesex
  • Christopher Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and CEO Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • Abe Oudshoorn, assistant professor, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Western University; chair of London Homeless Coalition
  • Glen Pearson, co-director London Food Bank; board member at London Poverty Research Centre

“The panel will meet, at a minimum, six to seven times from September to March to complete its objectives,” Brown said. “This is an ambitious timeline, but it is a significant opportunity for community leaders to come together to create meaningful change in London.”

Civic administration will support the work of the panel with logistics, research and required materials throughout the course of its work.