Ultra-high speed Internet expanding across southwestern Ontario

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 7.29.25 PMThe governments of Ontario and Canada are investing up to $180 million to help bring ultra-high speed Internet to homes and businesses across southwestern Ontario.

Canada and Ontario will each provide up to $90 million towards the total project cost of approximately $281 million.

London North Centre MPP and Ontario Deputy Premier Deb Matthews kicked off the announcement, which was made on July 26 at the London Roundhouse in front of federal and provincial representatives and municipal officials from the Forest City and across Elgin County.

“This is an important day, a historic day, when we actually bring all of southwestern Ontario together under that connectivity,” Matthews said. “This happens only when governments work together. That’s what’s happened today. It took us a little time, but here we are. We’re all in this together. We see the need and we’re filling that need.”

The investment is part of the new Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project, which will expand access to broadband by delivering fibre optic coverage to over 300 communities with a total population of 3.5 million — spanning counties and municipalities in southwestern Ontario, as well as Caledon and Niagara.

“The Government of Canada’s ongoing investments in broadband infrastructure are improving connectivity in communities across the country,” said Mississauga–Malton MP Naveep Singh Bains, federal minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “By providing better access to a wider variety of online tools and resources, we are increasing the potential for economic growth and diversification in these communities, and are helping the middle class and those working hard to join it.”

The project, according to a provincial media release, will help southwestern Ontario communities and businesses better compete in global markets, attract new jobs and improve quality of life.

It will also allow individuals to use online resources to gain skills and experience.

According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), a 10 percent increase in household broadband penetration could accelerate economic growth by up to 1.5 percent.

“Just as businesses depend on roads and electricity, high-speed Internet is fundamental to advancing the province’s economic interests,” said Allan O’Dette, OCC president and CEO. “We are encouraged by the government’s decision to prioritize investment in local community infrastructure, which is critical for economic growth in the digital age.”

Expanding high-speed Internet access is part of the Ontario government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs.

The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education.

“High-speed internet will connect people and businesses to the resources they need to compete in the global marketplace and strengthen our economy,” said Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Bob Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure. “Equipping people in the province with the tools they need to succeed is one of the ways we’re helping to build Ontario up.”


Innovation Works celebrates what is possible in London

Block PartyIf the goal of the Forest City’s new social innovation hub is to encourage collaboration, then its first big community event got the mission off to a roaring start.

On July 20, funders, tenants and supporters of Innovation Works came together to celebrate the official launch of London’s first shared space designed to inspire social innovators.

Taking place in the parking lot across from Innovation Works (201 King St.), the festivities — including vendors and London Arts Life performers — attracted more than 500 community members.

It was a level of excitement that couldn’t have made Michelle Baldwin feel more proud.

“I knew it would work because these spaces exist all around the world. I knew London had the market to do it,” said Baldwin, executive director of Pillar Nonprofit Network, which spearheaded the eight-year drive towards Innovation Works. “I’m really impressed with London for stepping up this way and embracing a new concept.”

Innovation Works offers flex desk, private desk, cluster or office packages, each designed to meet the needs of those moving into the space.

Jodi Simpson, ‎founder and community concierge at CityMatch, purchased one of those flex desk spaces.

For an entrepreneur comfortable working out of her home office, Simpson said he space at Innovation Works offers her a variety of advantages — in particular the opportunity to work around like-minded individuals.

The turnout at the block party proved to her this kind of social innovation hub is already proving to be a success

“It tells me London is coming out of its slumber and is embracing different models of working, of solving issues, of sharing space,” Simpson said. “It’s a different approach to how we do business and make an impact in the community. This turnout tells me London is more than ready for this kind of space.”

Those sentiments were reflected in the words of Mayor Matt Brown.

The mayor praised everyone involved with Innovation Works, adding the project’s success shakes the perception some people have about what can be accomplished in the Forest City.

“This is the culmination of an incredible amount of work, but it is also the result of a dream, a dream many people said maybe that can’t happen in London,” Brown said. “Maybe that’s something for Vancouver. Maybe that’s something For Toronto. Maybe it can’t happen in London. Well, folks, you proved them wrong.”

Andrea McNaughton, executive director London Heritage Council, knows full well how much effort went into creating Innovation Works

The heritage council, working along side London Arts Council, Pillar and others, has been working towards the concept of a unifying community hub for the better part of the past eight years.

Even with all the obstacles in the way, McNaughton remained steadfast in the vision championed by everyone associated with Innovation Works.

“I always felt it would happen. It was about the right stars aligning, having the right people in the mix and gaining the momentum in the community,” she said. “There’s an energy . . . the vibe you get from people. It tells you . . . collaboration is happening.”

Innovation Works is housed in the former corporate headquarters for GoodLife Fitness.

Some portion of the fitness giant’s staff have already moved out of the building, with the exodus to be completed by the end of August.

Renovations will then commence on the rest of the building, which Baldwin said is expected to take from September until December. The work will allow Innovation Works to expand beyond its initial single floor foothold on the building.

The block party also served as the launching point for the IN Crowd Funding Campaign in support of the next phase of renovations and the goal of raising $25,000.

For more information about how to donate, visit:


Pride London set to honour partners making a difference

Pride awardsWhile the Pride London Festival focuses a great deal on entertainment, organizers also pay particular attention to Londoners who go out of their way to support the Forest City’s LGBT communities.

The 2016 Pride London Festival Awards are set for Saturday, July 16, from 6-9 p.m., at The Cornerstone (332 Richmond St.) where a number of community contributions will be recognized.

Each year the Pride London Festival accepts nominations from the community for the Rainbow Youth Bursary and this year two recipients — Carlie Thompson and Brandon Christian — were recently announced for recognition.

This annual award is being given to two individuals who have been recognized as leaders in their community and have created a positive environment for those around them.

These honours aren’t exclusive to members of the LGBT communities, but was created in order recognize leadership and community contribution.

Thompson is a Grade 12 student at Parkside Collegiate Institute in St. Thomas and is an active member of their Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and has contributed to the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) Bully Awareness and Prevention Week.

Christian is a Grade 12 student at London’s Clarke Road Secondary School where he is also active with his GSA and the Sea of Pink Anti-Bullying campaign.

Chad Callander, Pride London Festival vice-president said the board is “proud of Carlie and Brendan’s contribution to our community. With leaders like these each year it is not doubt that London and Area has a bright future.”

He added Pride officials “are continuously impressed” by the work being done by students and that with there help, “there is no doubt they will go on to accomplish great things.”

The festival board also recently announced the recipients of three other awards.

Bruce Flowers has been named winner of the 2016 Ken Sadler Award for Individual Contribution.

In 1992, Flowers saw a need and stepped up to create and curate the first Pride Art Show, which he has said is meant, “to celebrate our queer sensibilities.” He served as the curator of the art exhibition from 1992 to 1996. He still works on the organizing committee and continues to display his artwork.

TVDSB has been chosen as the 2016 Pride London Festival Organization Contribution Award winner.

The TVDSB was selected for showing “an ongoing commitment to fostering an inclusive culture in our schools and help to ensure the safety of all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender diversity and gender expression.”

TVDSB’s Safe Schools has supported The Pledge to End Bullying, the Hear It! Stop It! Campaign, all-gender washrooms, and several other initiatives.

The 2016 Pride London Festival Business Contribution Award winner is Black Fly Beverage Company.

Black Fly’s commitment to London’s LGBT communities is evident through their continued support of Pride London Festival over several years. They also sponsored the 2016 Fierté Canada Pride and InterPride Region 7 Conference and Annual General Meeting, where London hosted delegates from coast to coast.


High heat, humidity forecast triggers second heat warning

Heat alertThe Middlesex-London Health Unit is issuing this summer’s second heat warning as high temperatures and humidity are expected to return to the London area.

The heat warning will remain in effect from July 12 until temperatures drop below 20C, which is expected by the evening of July 15.

The health unit will issue a heat warning when:

  • Environment Canada issues a forecast calling for a day-time high of 31C or higher with a minimum low of 20C or higher for two consecutive days, or;
  • Environment Canada issues a forecast for a humidex of 40C or higher for two consecutive days.

The Health Unit will issue an extended heat warning when:

  • Environment Canada issues a forecast calling for a day-time high of 31C or higher with a minimum day-time low of 20C or higher for three consecutive days or longer, or;
  • Environment Canada issues a forecast calling for a humidex of 40C or higher for three consecutive days or longer.

The combination of high heat and humidity arriving in London and Middlesex County can be very dangerous.

Anyone who finds they are suffering symptoms associated with extreme temperature conditions should seek medical attention immediately either by calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency department.

To avoid heat-related illness, follow these tips:

  • Drink plenty of water and natural juices throughout the day, even if you don’t feel very thirsty. Remember to take sips often and not to guzzle your drink.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, coffee and cola.
  • Where possible, avoid spending too much time outdoors. If you must be outside, stay in the shade as much as possible. Plan outdoor activities in the early morning or evening.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.
  • Keep window shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home.
  • Avoid turning on electric lights in the home.
  • Take a cool bath or shower periodically or cool down with cool, wet towels.
  • Wear loose fitting, light clothing.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals and using your oven.
  • Avoid intense or moderately intense physical activity.
  • Never leave a child or pet in a parked car or sleeping outside in direct sunlight.
  • Use fans to draw cool air at night, but do not rely on a fan as a primary cooling device during extended periods of excessive heat.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of any medications you are taking.
  • Reduce the use of personal vehicles, stop unnecessary idling; avoid using oil-based paints and glues, pesticides and gas-powered small engines.

Be aware of, and watch for, these signs and symptoms of heat illness, including rapid breathing, weakness or fainting, greater tiredness than usual, headache or confusion.

For more information about extreme weather warnings, heat-related illness, and/or humidity visit www.healthunit.com/extreme-heat.

For a listing of City of London splash pads and times they are open, visit www.london.ca and for the addresses of local libraries, call 519-661-4600.

For information about pet care, contact the London Animal Care Centre at 519-685-1330 or visit www.accpets.ca.