(Note: this is the second of five blogs that I will publish over the next few days on why I think that Matt Brown is the best choice for mayor on October 27th)
Two and a half years ago the single most important public engagement initiative for the next 20 years was launched. To much fanfare the City of London loudly proclaimed: tell us what you want the future of London to look like, we’re listening. And boy did the citizens of London speak up. In one of the largest (and cheapest) civic exercises of its kind in Canada over ten thousand people spoke up. City planning staff engaged citizens at City organized events, at citizen organized events, at festivals, at workplaces, at Pints & Politics, on the web, on the phone, over email and on social media.
It was truly inspiring and wrote a new chapter in the citizen engagement playbook in our city.
After a year of crunching all that input, looking at best practices around the world and talking to world renowned planners we now have a draft plan called The London Plan.
Matt Brown is the only candidate standing up for that plan. Is it a perfect plan? No. Past City Councillor Sandy Levin has pointed out a few areas of the plan that require changes, clarification and fine tuning. This plan represents the vision of thousands of Londoners who invested tens of thousands of hours in the plan and this alone demands that the plan be treated with respect.
One of the candidates has gone so far as to call The London Plan “a very painful fantasy”. I can scarcely imagine a more disrespectful thing to say to those who invested their time and energy at night and on weekends into this document. I was there in the room with these people many times and can tell you that the vast majority of the feedback was realistic and attainable (and being done TODAY in cities across North America and around the world).
It has been said that “Politics is the art of the possible”, well I can tell you that nothing in The London Plan is impossible. Is it ambitious? Hell yes and so it should be. If we want to move forward as a city then we have to aim high and figure innovative ways to get there.
Some will say “We have so many other issues that we have to deal with first” and to that I say we manage to do hundreds of things as a city simultaneously today and building our future should be in the mix. Treading water isn’t ever a viable option.
Matt is the only one talking about moving forward. The other guys are running on a platform of treading water (and, in one case, on doubling down on the bad infrastructure that is keeping us here).
The city has listened to the citizens, the city has a draft plan, let’s finish it and let’s get working.
Next up: Lead out loud.