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London city councillor pushes for better spending of taxpayer dollars in new LEDC contract

London city council is considering its contract with the London Economic Development Corporation. 980 CFPL/File Photo

While the city is in the process of renegotiating its contract with the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), one councillor would like to see more assurances that taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately.

The strategic priorities and policy committee considered a recommendation from staff on Monday to approve a six-month extension of the LEDC’s contract until the end of the year.

Currently, the organization charged with bolstering the local economy’s growth receives $2.27 million per year.

Ward 7 Coun. Josh Morgan said he supported the extension but wants to see staff use the time to lay out specific expectations for performance in the new four-year contract.

“I really think the contract has to have significant measurables, metrics and reporting in it,” Morgan told Global News Radio 980 CFPL.

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“I’m not saying we’re not getting value (currently), I’m saying it’s really hard to determine the type of value we’re getting.”

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Morgan said he’d like to see the contract clearly lay out the city’s expectations with respect to the LEDC’s area of focus and the reporting of results from the organization’s efforts.

The LEDC already gives city council an annual report, but Morgan would like to see the frequency increased.

“I’ll put the blame on the city, I’ll take the responsibility,” Morgan said. “What we need to do and what we’re going to do is step up and be really clear about the type of work that we want LEDC to do.

“That way, we can be really clear about what role in economic development we want LEDC to play, what role do we want ourselves and other agencies to play.”

As an example, Morgan pointed to the new Maple Leaf Foods facility being built in the city, saying it’s hard to know exactly how much influence the LEDC had in landing the deal.

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“Our realty services staff and our management at the city did a ton of work on that file. The province put in a bunch of money, as did the (federal government). LEDC played a role. Who played what role is difficult to determine without really clear reporting,” he said.

“It’s really important for municipal council and the City of London to understand that so that we can ensure that we are getting value for the taxpayer dollars that we’re spending.”

Committee members voted 15-0 in favour of granting the extension during Monday’s meeting. The full city council will consider the extension at Tuesday’s meeting.

Staff estimate they will have a report on the new contract proposal ready for councillors to consider in October.

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