London’s incoming council to be formally sworn in Monday evening
The incoming mayor and 14 members of Council will be formally sworn in Monday evening during a ceremony at the London Convention Centre.
It remains to be seen how the group will proceed on a number of high profile issues facing London, from bus rapid transit (BRT) to social housing.
He’s previously served as a Conservative MP in London West, but mayor-elect Ed Holder has asked left-leaning Ward 4 councillor-elect Jesse Helmer to serve as his deputy mayor.
Holder made an election promise to unify council, but the move came as a surprise to some as he’s a staunch supporter of BRT, which Holder campaigned against.
Helmer admits he’s open to improving the current plan.
“I’d like to see some changes to the plan if they’re going to make it better,” Helmer said. “For example, electrifying the buses so they would be cheaper to operate and reduce the emissions to zero and maybe quieter and smoother ride, I think that would be a good change.”
Helmer spoke to Global News Radio 980 CFPL about what he feels are the most pressing issues facing the new group, besides BRT.
“I think housing and issues around drug addiction and mental health in our community are the most pressing,” Helmer said. “We’re getting a lot of feedback from people in the community who can see it on the street, and I think over the past few months it’s probably been the worst that we’ve seen it in quite some time in terms of people sleeping rough and urban camping, and we really need to make sure that people have better options.”
READ MORE: Ed Holder elected as mayor of London
Helmer’s appointment as deputy mayor will need to be approved by council, which will also vote Monday night on a bylaw to make deputy mayor a two-year appointment instead of four years. Helmer said he will support the bylaw.
Political science professor at Fanshawe College, Matt Farrell, notes that the previous council featured more left-leaning politicians, and since this group is more balanced, there could be some tight votes.
“The nature of the ideological balance on council is going to be really interesting because it will require people to, maybe, compromise on some issues and build interesting coalitions with councillors from other wards in the city that they might not tend to vote with ideologically or philosophically,” Farrell said.
Farrell believes council will have difficulty making progress on the contentious BRT plan.
“It’s definitely going to be a big challenge. I don’t think we’ve tipped the scales one way or the other. We’ve probably brought them a little closer to the centre, and I really anticipate a tight vote and a close discussion on what the outcome will be for BRT,” he said.
Doors open for Monday’s ceremony at 5 p.m. with the event getting underway at 6 p.m.
Those in attendance are asked to bring a non-perishable food item, which will be donated to the Business Cares Food Drive.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.