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Mayor's 2018 State of the City Address

Good morning.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging that this event, every event in London, is taking place on the traditional territory of the Anishnaabeg, which is defined within the pre-confederation treaty known as - The London Township Treaty of 1796. Throughout time, this region has also become the current home to the Haudenosaunee and Lenni-Lenape Nations.

Thank you Andrew for the introduction and good morning everyone, welcome.

Thank you to the Chamber staff, board and Deloitte .

A special Thank you to the London Convention Centre. Today’s breakfast is mostly Ontario grown - including jam made here at the LCC with Heeman’s strawberries. This morning we’re supporting our regional economy. 

Today we are joined by;

Chief Henry of the Chippewas of the Thames

Members of Parliament

Kate Young

Peter Fragiskatos

Karen Vecchio


Members of Provincial Parliament

Peggy Sattler

Teresa Armstrong

We’re also joined by Mayor JoAnne Vanderheyden and Mayor Heather Jackson

Finally my colleagues, who work impossibly hard to serve this community.

Welcome Councillors Van Holst, Armstrong, Helmer, Cassidy, Morgan, Hopkins, Turner, Park and as well as Deputy Mayor Hubert.

All of my parents have been a constant source of strength and support to me throughout my life, teaching me the importance of public service and resilience.

My mom, Susan and step father David are watching from home.  We are joined here today by my dad Brian and step-mom Laurel.

People tell me I get my eyes from my mom and my forehead from my dad. Thanks dad.

There’s been a lot of change and growth at the City of London.

We’ve welcomed Martin Hayward City Manager, Anna Lisa Barbon our Treasurer, Bill Coxhead head of Human Resources, Kelly Scheer City Engineer, Barry Card our City Solicitor, Patti McKague our Director of Communications and Scott Stafford our Director of Parks and Recreation.

They’ve joined an amazing senior leadership team and we’re seeing a culture shift at City Hall. We are changing the way we do business.

I know that change isn’t always easy, so a huge thank you to the 3,500 City of London employees who go to work every day to make London better.

In 2017, we achieved so many things.

We renewed over 50 streets, 36 of them local, helping you get your family to and from safely.

We cut in half and removed Blackfriars Bridge and we’re going to fix it.

We received initial funding from the Federal Government for rapid transit and Dundas Place.

We completed a major link on our Thames Valley Pathway.

We invested massively in our water and wastewater systems, to help keep our river clean and healthy.

We quite literally lifted the rail line over Western Rd. as part of our road widening plans, an amazing engineering feat that solves a series bottleneck.

We advocated for a national housing strategy with mayor’s from across Canada, and helped secure $40-billion for our most vulnerable across the country and here at home.

We’re greener - we converted over 10,000 street lights to LED.

When it comes to our Council Strategic Plan; the goals we committed to in 2014, 95% of those plans are complete or on track.

We’ve done all this, while keeping true to our multi-year budget process and holding taxes at an average of 2.8% over 4 years.

We faced increased budget pressures, yet the city has found $9-million in cumulative savings and efficiencies through our Lean Six Sigma program and some innovative thinking.

That’s a quick snapshot.

Knowing where we stand and what our challenges are moving forward is important.

That’s why I asked Dr. Don Kerr of King’s University College to share his analysis - and the census paints an interesting picture about our population growth, largely fueled by immigration.

For the first time, StatsCan broke down the distribution of immigrants by geography.  So, where are our new Londoners from?

Just under a third of recent immigrants settling in the London region were in fact refugees, that’s nearly twice as high as the national average.

I’d like to thank organizations like the CCLC, LUSO, LMLIP and so many other faith based and community groups who offer support for new Londoners.

We need to all work with our partner agencies to welcome our new neighbours and friends once they arrive.

This is a fundamental truth. Our future success as a city depends on our ability to attract and employ people from around the globe.

Next, let’s focus on all of you; chamber members, entrepreneurs, employees, business owners and community leaders. You all do so much to make our city more prosperous.

As I prepared for this speech, I reached out to hundreds of businesses.

I’d like to thank Kapil Lakhotia and the LEDC for supporting so many of the growing businesses in our community.

London has attracted $250-million in investments over the past 3 years and created 5,000 direct jobs in digital creative, advanced manufacturing, food and beverage processing, defence and more.

To the business leaders who continue to work hard and thrive, thank you for the sacrifices you make. You are daring, you often put your employees and your customers before yourselves, you believe in London.

So, Let’s talk about some of the wins.

London’s tech sector, it’s  barley 10 years old. It is now our fifth-largest employer. 

This year, five London companies made Deloitte’s Fast 50 list; Big Viking Games, Arcane, Big Blue Bubble, and Diply - 10% of the entire roster.

That’s more than Kitchener-Waterloo. That’s what we’re fostering here.

In 2017, secured an $18-million investment from US-based Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital.

Soon after, they announced they had acquired an industry competitor, US-based 

Arcane Digital is working to expand in the U.S.  Arcane employs a total of 90 now, 73 of those here in London.

Big Blue Bubble continues to grow and will join Voices and Autodata at the Bell Building in 2018.

Diply scored the top spot on Deloitte’s list with four-year revenue growth of over 92,000%.  Almost 100,000% growth.

Diply’s unbelievable success is a result of over 9-billion page views. This is content that is created and posted right here in London.

It’s why Mikutech hosts GameSlice, an industry night for play testing unreleased games. It will be back this year in May.

Tech sector leaders across London are demonstrating great momentum.

This momentum is bringing new investment, drawing new residents from far and wide and bringing others home.

I want to share some stories of that momentum, it’s best told by those creating it.

Momentum Video

Let’s tell more stories like that. Let’s talk about people like Jodi, Tarique, Mona, Kristin, Ryan, Justin and Mack.

JMP Automation, wow.

They’re looking to grow again by 50% in 2018 and another 50% in 2019. That’s twenty jobs this year, and at least that next year.

Zomaron, is a tech payment firm here in London that makes it easy for businesses to process online payments.

Since 2008, Zomaron has worked hard to become one of Canada’s leading payment companies; serving thousands of businesses across Canada, processing over Two billion dollars annually.

They are transforming the old Westmount Library, doubling their current staff of 70 full-time employees to 140 in the coming year.

MLD solutions will launch Mozaik Global in 2018, bringing them into the realm of interactive digital multi-media content.

PSD saw 50% revenue growth for the third year in a row. PSD hired 17 additional people in 2017 and is looking to hire over 40 more over the next two years.

Race Roster is another industry leader.

They will double their workforce by the end of 2018, creating 50 new jobs. 

We continue to see growth from long standing tech giants like, CarProof and OES. now has over 150 employees, they will double that number over the next five years and move into a new official headquarters at York and Adelaide, all while rolling out fibre optic internet in Old East Village.

While we are seeing recovery, the sobering reality is that we still have fewer people working than prior to the last recession in 2007. 

We only returned to our pre-recession level temporarily in late 2015.

About 30% of London households have a total income of $100,000 or more, and about 1 in 8 have a household income of at least $150,000.

While there is considerable prosperity in our community, we also have hardship. 17% of Londoners are experiencing poverty and we have the third highest rate of child poverty across Canada.

This is why the United Way is bringing together individuals and organizations in our community to implement Council’s  “London For All” poverty reduction strategy.

This is why we’re advocating for our share of the $40-billion earmarked for affordable housing.

This is why we’re adding more child care spaces and shortened the wait lists for low income Londoners.

Why kids under 12 ride the bus for free and why we’ve created a new subsidized transit pass for low income Londoners.

We can help people break the cycle of poverty and we can do it through improved housing, accessible transportation and increased opportunity.

We need more jobs, specifically manufacturing jobs, for so many Londoners that are un and underemployed.

Today, I am proud to announce that Diamond Aircraft, recently acquired by Wanfeng Aviation, will at least double in size over the next five years.

Diamond is adding two new lines this year. They currently employ 180 and will add at least 120 jobs in 2018, then grow their workforce to 600 by 2023.

While we should be concerned about our unemployment numbers, there are numerous indicators that suggest momentum is building.

Based upon LEDC’s projections, in 2018, we can expect $1-billion in capital investments through local expansions, entrepreneurial activities and business growth.

That’s projected to bring 3,000 new jobs.

Jobs are coming, and we are smashing records elsewhere.

Construction, is our 6th largest employer and has grown by 17% over the last five years. 

Homes sales have set an all time record, with 11,203 homes sold in 2017. Each time a move occurs an additional $53,000 is spent in our local economy.

The growth we are seeing in construction and housing  - It’s momentum, again.

The loss of legacy plants like Kellogg’s and Electro-Motive hurt us, no doubt.

That’s why we need to find innovative ways to do business and thrive.

London and Windsor, through the LEDC and the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation will create a Regional Technology Development Site for Autonomous Vehicles.

The Province has earmarked $2.5-million for each of these sites.  The Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network will include universities, colleges and research organizations.

In March 2018 the VERGE Breakthrough Fund will be launched with $2-million in loan capital for the southwest region for social enterprises, affordable housing and impact real estate.

As we look toward new and exciting industry, we can’t forget what this region is founded on; agriculture and agri-foods. This sector employs about 6,000 people.

In 2017, the Western Fair District hosted the largest yearling animal market in Canada, with $7.5-million in sales.

There are 27,000 farms in southwestern Ontario and 5,500 in the London region.

Southwestern Ontario contains about 4% of all farmland in Canada, but generates 15% of all farm revenue – that’s over $10-billion annually.

There is a labour shortage in the agri-food sector.  For every one graduate there are four jobs.

That’s why Fanshawe College has strengthened its agri-food programming so we can continue to attract large multinationals like Dr. Oetker as well as support successful startups like Nuts for Cheese and Forked River Brewing.

An attractive community is exciting, exceptional and connected. It’s a great place to live, work and play.

Masonville Place spent over $100-million over the last two years.

The Rec Room, is 36,000 sq. ft. of games, food and fun and it opens this spring.

And The Flying Squirrel, an indoor trampoline park in our south end opens in February.

Boler Mountain offers year round fun; they just added the final piece of the puzzle when they opened their new $6.1-million chalet.

I’m proud to announce The Factory and Powerhouse Brewing, an amazing investment at the former Kellogg’s plant, will open in April.

That’s over 100 jobs in a facility that’s been dormant for too long.

Just across the road, we’re starting to see progress at the McCormick’s building too. Old East Village, I’m excited for you. You are the coolest neighbourhood in London!

In spring of 2017, the rail lines were recertified at the former Electro-Motive building. Now, HCL Logistics is bringing lumber and quarts into the site for distribution and hoping to hire at least 22 new people by 2019.

Just a few months ago we announced a full-sized IKEA is opening in 2019 and will bring up to 150 new jobs.

I am happy to announce today that outdoor recreation giant SAIL will be joining IKEA at the same site bringing another 100 jobs. A first for this area.

Business Improvement Areas play a critical role in the creation and expansion of grassroot businesses.

As the ward 7 councillor, I had the pleasure of working with Donna Szpakowski  and the Hyde Park Business Association.  I am pleased to see them realize their goal of becoming a BIA. 

In the Old East Village, we’re seeing a renaissance and the BIA there is helping so many join the OEV family. The Argyle BIA and soon to be Hamilton Road BIA help strengthen neighbourhoods too.

As the old become new again, let’s not forget those who started here and continue to thrive.

Jones Packaging, this year’s Chamber of Commerce Corporate Icon Award winner, has been responding to market needs since 1882.

Nash Jewellers started back in 1918 with very humble beginnings.

John A. Nash borrowed $500 from friends and family to follow his dream. Four generations and 100 years later – congratulations.

Nothers Signs and Recognition is another great London story. As a child, Jim Nother and his family lived in an apartment above the shop.

His office today was his bedroom 5 decades ago.

The family employs 21 people and they continue to grow. In May, they’ll move to a new facility and hire more people.

80% of our labour market comes from stories like this, small and medium sized businesses owned by Londoners who have passion and vision.

We also have giants who are doing phenomenal things here and around the world.

Labatt celebrated its 170th anniversary in 2017. Founded on the banks of our Thames River before Canada was a nation - now a worldwide brand. Between 2011 and 2020 Labatt will invest more than $1-billion across Canada.

Another London company celebrating a milestone, Drewlo Holdings turns 60 this year.

They house over 9,000 tenants. In 2018, they’ll open the doors to four new buildings including a 236 unit student residence.

In 2017 GoodLife was named to the list of ‘150 Most Iconic Brands in Canada’.

With their head office and 12 Clubs here in London they employ approximately 1,000 people.

This past year, Trojan Technologies celebrated 40 years.  Their 10,000 municipal UV systems have treated roughly 900 cubic kilometers of water.

It would take 12 years for that much water to pass over Niagara Falls.

Well over 1-billion people, over 1 in 8 people on the planet has benefited from a Trojan system.

Another London game changer is 3M. In 2017, They welcomed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to demonstrate how they innovate, with a commitment to science.

They believe that every problem has a solution.

Down the street from 3M, London is home to the largest defence company in Canada - General Dynamics Land Systems.

GDLS employs roughly 2,000 people in London, including over 650 engineers.  

These Londoners build LAVs that protect Canadian soldiers and help save lives.

In 2017, these vehicles were used to rescue Canadians from flood waters in Montreal.

Then again in rescue efforts in the Peru floods.

With 246 local suppliers, they are doing their part to keeping Londoners employed.

As we make strides in our defence sector, we cannot overlook the amazing team that’s revived Airshow London.

This year, Airshow London will form a new and exciting partnership within the aerospace and defense industry.

Airshow London will offer a new opportunity for industry decision makers to be introduced to London’s research, education and skills at at Fanshawe and Western.

There are roughly 14,000 individual businesses operating in our city adding over $14-billion worth of GDP to London and the regional economy.

Today, as part of the London Community Economic Roadmap, we are proud to launch the Entrepreneur Support Network. Those with small businesses or looking to launch their dream now have one single resource at

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a seasoned business vet or trying to find your way, know that we’re here to help. You take risks every day, and we need to support you. 

The Community Economic Roadmap built a solid foundation that brought over 300 business and community leaders together to work on 5 priority areas for the city.

This helped bring leaders together, strengthen service delivery and align our shared economic priorities. In 2018, we will refocus our strategy on the areas that worked well and where our expectations fell short.

Accountability, metrics and a business driven approach is needed to ensure that we are stewarding our investments properly and creating the right environment for innovation to thrive.

Businesses in this room get it, we have to quantify the return on our investments and question projects that failed to deliver on their promise. In some cases, we will need to hit the reset button.

Our health care sector directly employs 24,000 people.

Trudell Medical started selling bibles and bandages. Now they are an international powerhouse in helping patients live fuller lives. They also played a key role on my Poverty Panel and London’s living wage initiative. Mitch Barron believed every employee should be able to afford a house and car. He understood the importance the living wage can have for a company’s bottom line decades before the rest of us did.

Our largest employer continues to be LHSC, with over 15,000 employees.

We have such brilliant minds at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Robarts Research and Lawson Health Research Institute.

Thank you to those who spend hours in the lab looking for solutions, those who hold the hands of the elderly, those who help deliver our children and those who spend hours on their feet in the OR working to save a life. 

Stallergenes Greer has been in London for just under three years, growing from two people to 22 and is just completing a new drug submission. They’re expecting Health Canada approval next summer.

We’ve talked a lot about growth. I want to give you an update on three ambitious projects your city council launched this term.

We announced yesterday that London has secured a $170-million investment from the provincial government for our rapid transit system. This is the single largest funding commitment the province has ever made for London.

It’s time. This is A system we need. This is THE system we need. This system will fight congestion and improve transportation for everyone.

It will include things like synchronized traffic lights, better designed intersections and technology that will predict traffic flow allowing all of us to travel across the city quickly.

To suggest anything less than this system, is selling us short. Londoners deserve better. BRT light is London light, and going half way is good for absolutely no one.

We’re a City of almost 400,000, in 20 years we’ll be pushing half a million.  It’s time we start thinking bigger.

Big ideas like Rapid Transit will move us forward and benefit each and every one of us.

This is single largest thing we can do to reduce greenhouse gases, it avoids hundreds of millions in road widening costs, injects 4,400 person years of employment through construction and creates $270-million in new wages for Londoners.

Those stats are now backed by the Province’s commitment of $170-million - Thank you to the Province of Ontario! Your City Council has committed another $130-million because we share this vision for a better London too.

Rapid Transit is the foundation of The London Plan.

And now, we are making it a reality.

This system fits seamlessly with the commitment and momentum we’re seeing on High Speed rail. Which will shrink the distance between communities across southwestern Ontario, slashing travel time and transforming our regional economy.

Other key projects in the London Plan include Dundas Place. In early 2018 the first phase of construction begins between the river and Richmond Street.

Picture outdoor patios, concerts and parties, allowing restaurants, shops and people to spill out onto the curbless street.

This is a game changer for our core.

Downtown London has added 21 net new businesses and the core has a record $1.7-billion in assessment value.

With Fanshawe’s new downtown campus opening in September, we will see more people in the core than ever before. 

Our skyline will change drastically, yet again.

York Developments is planning on building a condo, sports and entertainment hub on King St with a 31 storey building; 207 residential units and a mix of commercial and retail space.

Southside Group will soon unveil detailed plans for 183 King, hoping to transform a now underutilized stretch of King Street, right along a main BRT corridor.

Downtown wouldn’t be as vibrant without Tricar Development, a company that’s invested much more in the downtown than even the City of London.

Their phenomenal builds have transformed our skyline.

The latest, 40 York will be a 24 storey, condominium with 220 residential units.

This is a massive build right at the Forks of the Thames.

We want to engage Londoners in this project. We want to get creative. Tricar is giving Londoners the chance to name the building.

Today, we launch website. We want Londoners to have a say on what the latest downtown tower will be named.

As much as the downtown defines us, so too does the Thames River.

For decades we have turned our backs on the river. It’s our responsibility to embrace and enhance this natural feature that flows through the heart of our city.

To date, the London Community Foundation has received over $1-million in major gifts for Back to the River, and there are millions more on the way.

We need to get back to the river.

Tonight at council, we vote on the Springbank dam. Last week, I moved the motion at committee to decommission it.

Now we can start the work of reconnecting with our free flowing river and we can make those investments that have been on hold happen.

The London Community Foundation has been instrumental in this vision. Grants from the McConnell Foundation, and very generous support from philanthropists like Richard Ivey and others are helping to bring this vision to reality.

Another key area of the Back to the River plan is the South Street Hospital lands.

Today, I am proud to unveil early stage plans from Medallion Corporation for two buildings on that site. They will be 19 and 23 storeys high, with 600 suites.

As we reconnect and rebuild, we owe so much of our growth to our colleges and universities.

Western University is the home of scientific firsts, leading research and athletic champions.

The Vanier Cup is proudly displayed for you to see. Congratulations to coach Greg Marshall who is here with us today, after an undefeated 2017 season. And that’s just one of six championships the Mustangs brought back to London this year.

Huron  is using curriculum to connect private sector leaders, like Sifton, with students to tackle local business challenges.

Kings is working with the Roman Catholic Diocese and the City, ensuring that the St. Peter’s Seminary lands remain an important heritage anchor.

Brescia will celebrate 100 years of empowering women through education.

Today I am thrilled to announce that they are undertaking a $14-million project; building a new 30,000 square foot Academic Pavilion.

With this construction boom and these amazing facilities, we still have a skilled trades gap to address.

The London District Construction Association has worked hard to raise this concern.

That’s why it’s important for us to encourage growth in the construction sector by breaking down barriers. Thank you to Women in Construction for being here today and being a great example for the future generation.

With all these new builds, new jobs and new opportunities, we all need a little fun.

London is on.

We’re hosting the 2018 Ontario Summer Games, the Global Student Leadership Summit and the 2nd annual Jack Richardson London Music Week.

London is a music city.

In 2017, we saw growth in our music sector like never before. The London Music Office hosted its first Music Career Day, inspiring a new generation.

We welcomed back Beatlesfest, Sunfest, Home County, Trackside and Rock the Park. These events are economic drivers.

Rock the Park had 40,000 in attendance, $2.3-million in visitor spending, for a total economic impact supported in Ontario of $6-million.

That’s why music on patios is important. That’s why extending the “noise bylaw” is important. That’s why we support local artists, like Texas King, who recorded the track for our intro video today.

I want to thank people like Chris Campbell, Mario Circelli, Mike Manuel, Cory Crossman and so many others for taking their passion for music and this industry and growing it in London. Momentum and growth in music.

I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together next. Personally, I think it’s going to be a great year for London’s Music Industry.

So, that’s the State of the City. Building, growing, creating. Momentum.

Promises made. Promise kept.

A culture change at City Hall, a multi-year budget with affordable taxes, hundreds of millions of dollars for rapid transit, a new skyline with cranes dotting the horizon, a downtown that works and a growing population.

We’ve attracted $250-million in investment and created 5,000 jobs over the past three years, with $1-billion of investment on the horizon for 2018.

3,000 jobs are projected  this year. Over 1,000 announced today.

Evolving campuses.

Medical breakthroughs.

Unprecedented partnerships.

Defence leaders.

Tech giants.

Social enterprises.

Family businesses.

Foreign investors.

Agri-food innovators.

A music city.


Change makers.

Trudell Medical. 

Diamond Aircraft and Wanfeng Aviation.

Race Roster.


The Factory.

HCL Logistics.







MLD Solutions.

Nash Jewellers.


Big Blue Bubble.

Big Viking Games.




Public Sector Digest.


JMP Automation.


Plus, all of you.

All of London

Momentum is building

And this momentum is because of you.


Thank you.




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