Fire officials remind everyone, change your clocks, change your batteries

Daylight saving time ends this Sunday, Nov. 1 and the London Fire Department wants to remind the public to replace the old batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when setting the clocks back one hour.

“Fire prevention and safety should be top of mind for all Londoners,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “It is one easy step to change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when we turn back our clocks.”

In order to survive a fire, occupants need to be provided with early warning and act immediately to exit the home when smoke or carbon monoxide alarms sound. Installing and maintaining working smoke alarms on every storey of a home and near all sleeping areas is the law.

Tampering with an alarm or removing the batteries can result in a fine of up to $50,000.

For rental properties, landlords are responsible for installing and maintaining the required number of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

The most recent statistics from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal reveal that among residential fires involving injury or dollar loss from 2009 to 2013, there were no smoke alarms in 18 percent of them.

In a further 15 percent, smoke alarms were present but did not operate, often due to dead or missing batteries.

These numbers have not improved significantly over several years, so it appears that many people are still not heeding safety messages.

With Halloween also occurring this weekend, fire safety should be top of mind. Instead of using candle flames in Jack-O-Lanterns, use flashlights or battery operated candles.

Make sure costumes are made of fire resistant materials and do not flow or trail from children as they pass where open flames may be presented as decorations.


Community effort continues to assist Syrian refugee crisis

London’s interfaith community is continuing its efforts to bring Syrian refugee families to the Forest City.

More than a month after the initial launch of local efforts, in excess of $200,000 has been collected through various fundraising endeavors.

Due to the generosity of Londoners there are six applications underway to sponsor families into the community.

“Thank you to London’s interfaith community and to the community-at-large for this compassionate and caring response,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “As we continue to work together to make London more open for all, I would encourage Londoners to continue to give and support this community-wide effort.”

Community-wide effort to raise awareness and donations to assist Syrian refugee families settle in London launched on Sept. 5.

The London Islamic has been actively raising funds to support the community-wide efforts. In addition, schools from across the London District Catholic School Board also raised close to $20,000.

On Saturday, Nov. 14, the London Multicultural Community Association will host a celebration gala with proceeds supporting the resettlement efforts.

Donations are welcomed at St. Aidan’s Anglican Church, the Islamic Centre, London Muslim Mosque, Oakridge Presbyterian and many other religious organizations across the city.

On Sept. 12, Brown joined the Task Force on Refugee Resettlement established by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to coordinate of Canadian municipalities as they deal with the Syrian refugee crisis.

Locally, donations can be directed to the following partner organizations:

  • Metropolitan United Church (on the ground humanitarian efforts)
  • The Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario
  • The London Muslim Mosque
  • Muslim Association of Canada London Chapter
  • St. Andrew Memorial Anglican Church
  • The Presbytery of London
  • Byron United Church
  • St. Aidan’s Anglican Church of London
  • King’s University College Ministry
  • Fanshawe College
  • Western University
  • London Multicultural Community Association
  • The Anglican Deanery of London

London Convention Centre launches capital improvement project

The London Convention Centre is doing its part to invest in the future of the Forest City.

Starting Oct. 19, the 22-year old London Convention Centre (LCC) launched a capital improvement project. This $5 million investment to upgrade the LCC will further the everyday commitment to clients — best in class service and expectations exceeded with every interaction.

“The convention centre fulfils such an important need for London both locally and across Ontario and Canada,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “These significant renovations will make the facility more modern, vibrant, efficient and accessible, allowing both Londoners and the many visitors to our great City to continue to connect and share for decades to come.”

A key element of the project includes transforming the current main floor theatre to additional event space where groups can bond and intimate conversations can take place.

Brian Soanes, LCC board chair, said now is the time for a more modern, accessible space to meet the needs of audiences from London and around the world.

“We know it’s time for more modern, accessible spaces to meet the needs of sophisticated audiences from London and around the world and we are excited to start this upgrade,” Soanes said. “The project is heavily focused on the first floor and includes modern design touches, energy efficiency upgrades and accessibility upgrades.”

To kick off the project, speakers, sound equipment, acoustic curtains, lighting and other materials have been donated to the Grand Theatre, the Palace Theatre and Habitat for Humanity, extending the project’s community impact even further.

John Winston, Tourism London general manager, said this investment is welcomed and is a sound business decision.

The proposed redesign and upgrades to the existing facility, Winston said, is long overdue and will serve to not only enhance city-wide convention opportunities, but will position London as a notable contender in a highly competitive meeting and convention market.

Another supporter of the project is Janette MacDonald, executive director Downtown London.

LCC, MacDonald said, is a key partner in London’s growing economy and from Downtown London’s perspective, the more people attracted to events and conventions the better it is for the local economy.

“We know that the LCC operates in a very competitive marketplace and requires every advantage we can afford,” MacDonald said. “This modern, fresh design coupled with the highly professional customer service offered by the team gives London a winning combination.”

LCC is host to up to 400 events annually, which contribute up to $20 million to the local economy each year.

Abuse survivor to speak at Lighting of the Lights

A single tree in Victoria Park will be aglow in purple lights throughout the month of November as part of the Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign.

On Monday, Nov. 2, at 5:30 p.m. the Lighting of the Lights ceremony in the park (southwest corner of the park at Clarence Street and Dufferin Avenue) will kick off woman abuse awareness and prevention month.

A creative art installation will be unveiled at the ceremony.

Keynote speaker at the event is Lenka Kriz, a woman abuse survivor. Other Speakers include Mayor Matt Brown and title sponsor Tony Cuzzocrea from Planmar Financial.

The goals of the campaign are to raise awareness of men’s violence against women by turning cities, regions and counties purple for the month of November; to stand in solidarity with abused women and support them in understanding that any shame and/or blame they may feel does not belong to them but to the perpetrators of their abuse; and to raise the profile of the community agencies that can provide abused women with help as they attempt to live their lives free from violence and abuse.

2015 Shine the Light on Woman Abuse Campaign Events

  • Sunday, Nov. 1 – Niagara Falls along with 30 London locations will be illuminated in purple to honour the Shine the Light on Woman Abuse Campaign.
  • Monday, Nov. 2 – Campaign Kick-Off and Lighting of the Tree at 5:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 8 – Sixth Annual Dave Richards Memorial 4-on-4 Co-ed Adult Ball Hockey Tournament. To register contact Dan Gilbert at 519-455-2255 or
  • Friday, Nov. 13 – Wear Purple Day; wear purple clothing, a tie, jewellery, shoes, make-up, socks, a belt; or accessorize with balloons, streamers, ribbons or hair extensions. Post photos on Twitter using the hashtag #wearpurpleday. Post your pictures on our FB wall
  • Friday, Nov. 13 – Purple Night with the London Knights, game time 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 20 – Purple Night-on-the-town. London Restaurants feature a purple drink with a portion of proceeds donated to the London Abused Women’s Centre. Participants are listed at
  • Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21– Quilt Show Secret Stiches.
  • Friday, Nov. 20, 5–8 p.m. at Hassan Law Offices in The Chisholm Building, 142 Dundas St.
  • Saturday, Nov. 21, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at East Lions Artisan Centre, 1731 Churchill Ave. The show will feature the work of a woman who endured abuse throughout her entire marriage to her husband. Her escape was through creating 14 unique quilts for each of her children and grandchildren until she passed away.
  • Friday, Nov. 27 – Shine the Light Cocktail Party, Goodwill Industries, 255 Horton St. E., 5-8 p.m.

Rock the Park back for 13th year, without Bethanys Hope

London’s most anticipated live music event will be back in 2016 for its 13th anniversary, but this year’s edition will have a notable change.

Bethanys Hope Foundation will be shifting gears and stepping away from the annual Rock the Park concert series in order to concentrate on a national awareness and family support campaign that will take the organization from coast-to-coast over the next three years.

The primary focus of this initiative is to bring Leukodystrophy partners together in order to raise awareness and concentrate on its families.

Bethanys Hope has launched the Be on the Team for 2018 campaign with the end goal of commencing clinical trials for Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD) treatment in 2018.

With one full time employee and a legion of volunteers, a national campaign will fully task the foundation and as a result force a realignment of priorities and resources.

David McIntyre, president of the Bethanys Hope, noted that the Rock the Park concert series would not have been possible for the past 12 years without the volunteers who have given up their time to raise important funds in support of the research program.

“Without our volunteers we would not be here today reflecting on 12 incredible years. It is because of all them that our goal of finding a cure for MLD has almost come to fruition,” McIntyre said. “We cannot say thank you enough to these incredible individuals who gave up vacation time, endured heat, rain, lack of sleep and still pushed hard to ensure the foundation is in the desirable position it finds itself today.”

Over the past 12 years the Bethanys Hope Foundation and Jones Entertainment Group (JEG) have partnered to raise over $2.2 Million for research and find a cure for MLD.

McIntyre is quick to point out the Rock the Park concert series, and the relationship with JEG, has made a national campaign that focuses on the families who suffer with MLD possible.

“Bethanys Hope Foundation is extremely proud of our partnership with Jones Entertainment Group and the entire Jones family.” McIntyre said. “Without the idea of Rock the Park, which Brad (Jones, president of JEG) brought as a concept to our board of directors all those years ago, we would not be in the position today to embark on this ambitious campaign that will bring us across the finish line.”

Jones echoed McIntyre’s comments.

“The past 12 years have been an incredible adventure filled with fantastic music, many memories and a significant amount of money raised for Bethanys Hope Foundation.” Jones stated. “We are so proud of our partnership with Bethanys Hope and are very grateful for their hard work and the commitment of all the dedicated volunteers. We wish them the utmost success in their new national initiative and look to celebrating with them in 2018.”

Bethanys Hope Foundation will be releasing more information regarding its national awareness and family support campaign over the next few months.

More information regarding Rock the Park 13, including acts and pertinent details, will also be forthcoming over the next few days.

Second heritage recognition award for London Roundhouse

When you’re 128 years old, you probably think you’ve seen everything.

That’s not the case for the London Roundhouse, built in 1887 as a Michigan Central Railroad steam locomotive repair shop.

The building has won the National Trust for Canada’s Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award for Building Heritage. One of eight buildings across Canada honoured this year, and the only one in London, the award recognizes “excellence in the regeneration of heritage buildings and sites.”

The National Trust for Canada is a charity that inspires and leads action to save historic places, and promotes the care and wise use of our historic environment. The charity has a track record of raising awareness for heritage conservation, saving heritage properties across Canada, and engaging Canadians in keeping their own historic places alive.

The national award comes just days after the Roundhouse was recognized provincially, with one of two Paul Oberman Awards for Adaptive Re-Use from the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO).

“We’re entirely delighted by how the Roundhouse turned out. It’s an open, creative space that’s perfect for Ellipsis and Engine SevenFour—it enhances the collaboration between our team members, and fits the way we work and interact,” said David Billson, president and CEO of the two companies. “I love the idea that we’re connecting digital communities the way the original occupant connected physical communities.”

Creative Properties preserved and restored the heritage aspects of the 7,500 square foot Roundhouse, but wired the building to support the two companies’ technological needs.

The renovations included removing the wooden and brick additions that were added over the years, and digging out the four-foot deep concrete floor laid to make Sansone’s loading process easier.

All of the original Roundhouse doors, and the majority of the windows, have been restored, making the space open and bright. The impressive columns supporting the roof have been restored.

A double-decker suite of offices and meeting rooms has been added to the centre of the Roundhouse, with a kitchen and an upper-level lounge created in the east side of the building.

Much of the transformation has been captured on the London Roundhouse blog at

“Our goal from the very beginning was to find a place where our investment and commitment would be a win for our teams, a win for the neighbourhood, and a win for heritage preservation,” said Shawn Adamsson, Ellipsis Digital’s vice-president strategy. “This would have been impossible without dedicated and community-minded partners like Creative Property Developments and Nicholson Sheffield Architects. We’ve always had an office but now, for the first time, we have a home.”

The National Trust’s National Awards Ceremony and Reception took place on Oct. 23, in Calgary, at the Petroleum Club.

The ACO recognition will be presented at the ACO’s Annual Awards Dinner at the Arts & Letters Club in Toronto on Friday, Nov. 13.

London company named to Canada’s top web developers

Digital Echidna, a London, ON-based web design and digital agency, has been recognized as one of Canada’s top web development agencies.

The company, which was also ranked as a contender in the top web designers category, was recognized by Clutch, a Washington, DC-based research and review firm that identifies top service and software firms in the technology and marketing industry.

“We appreciate recognition of this nature because it comes from our local, national, and international customers’ satisfaction with our work, business practices and process, and talent,” said Andrew McClenaghan, owner of Digital Echidna. “We have made a commitment over the years to invest in talent acquisition and education, continuing education, and support of the technological community. Those investments pay off in the long run in better quality digital solutions and customer satisfaction.”

The results were published in Clutch’s first report on Web Design and Web Development Agencies in Canada.

“As an increasing amount of businesses evolve their web presence, there is a growing demand for creative and responsive websites,” said Alex Miller, analyst at Clutch. “The leading agencies that we’ve identified in Canada meet this demand by displaying strong leadership in interactive design.”

Digital Echidna has been a strong proponent and leading supporter of the open-source Drupal Content Management System.

The company has a significant presence locally, nationally, and internationally in the Drupal community, sponsoring conferences and conventions, and sponsoring employees’ time and contribution back to the open-source community.

“We believe in the efficacy of the Drupal CMS and, as a result, we have invested heavily in recruiting, training, and retaining a talented team of web developers,” McClenaghan said. “We are committed to fostering the local technological community, through education events and support of incubators like Hacker Studios. We have benefitted from the wealth of talent that has come out of Western University and Fanshawe College and we are proud to help foster the development of London’s strong technological community.”

McClenaghan said everyone at Digital Echidna “greatly appreciate” the recognition as it represents an acknowledgement the team’s efforts and the ongoing commitment to “continuing to live up to those standards and ideals.”