London

Poetry poles and bike rides for seniors: Just some neighbourhood ideas you can vote for

The city's call for Londoners to submit project ideas for ways to improve their neighbourhoods has reached the home stretch. 

Londoners can vote for 85 neighbourhood projects on Nov. 6

Londoners can vote on their favourite proposal on Nov. 6 online, in-person and by telephone. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

The city's call for Londoners to submit project ideas for specific, small-scale projects to improve their neighbourhoods has reached the home stretch. 

The Neighbourhood Decision Making initiative allows anyone to pitch an idea to create or build something or start a new program to enhance the city, with everyone able to vote for their favourite ideas. 

This year, 230 ideas were submitted by residents, neighbourhood associations, student groups and Londoners. Of the ideas submitted ahead of the Sept. 21 submission deadline, 85 made the list of viable proposals which will be available for voting on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The city has set aside $250,000 for the projects with a cap of $30,000 for each one, with at least one winner coming from each of five geographical areas of the city.

"People actually get to have a say in the allocation of funds which is pretty rare, not many municipalities have this opportunity," said Karen Oldham, the city's manager of neighbourhood development and support.

The Neighbourhood Decision Making project had been on hold since 2019 because in early 2020, the city put a cap on non-essential spending during those early, uncertain days of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Oldham said the number of projects submitted this year suggests Londoners a pent-up desire to shape their city during all those months of lock downs at home. 

"I think because we were sort of confined to our neighbourhoods for over a year, people are paying attention to what's in their local park and ways to build community again," she said. "I think it created a lot of need and desire for people to get together and celebrate." 

Many of the proposals are what you'd expect, including calls for new infrastructure such as park benches, bus shelters and improvements to playgrounds. But others call for the creation of new programs, including one for a seed bank.

Some examples of the projects being put forward include:

Free tours on bikes like these for seniors, with high-school students providing the power, is one idea being peddled. (City of London)

Cycling without Age in Old South  This project plans to whisk residents of the Waverley Retirement Residence around Old South on passenger bikes ridden by volunteers from South Secondary school. The seniors can take a tour through the neighbourhood or visit shops in Wortley Village The project aims to  connect youth and seniors in a meaningful way.  Its backers are seeking $7,500 to buy a trishaw bike, essentially an adult-sized tricycle with space for two passengers at the front. 
 

Orange Crosswalks at Oxford and Richmond Streets This idea here is to paint all four crosswalks at Oxford and Richmond orange to honour Indigenous people. "It will brighten the intersection up, it will spark conversation and hopefully inspire education," reads the description on the city's website. This project has a pegged cost of $30,000. 
 

Arabic FM  radio station This pitch calls for the creation of a radio station in London with news and other programing to serve London's community of Arabic speakers.

Poetry poles display verse for everyone to read and contemplate as they pass. (City of London)

Poetry Poles in Old South  A Poetry Pole is a wooden or plastic box perched on a pole and planted on properties around Old South. The box holds one or several copies of a poem, selected from poetry entries and changed on a regular basis. "People can stop and reflect on their environment for a minute, and read some thought-provoking works of poetry to expand their minds," the description reads. Projected cost for this is $1,700.

East Lions Community Centre opening party Due to construction delays, the Argyle community has been waiting a long time for the new community centre, which is now two years past its initial opening date. Project backers are pitching a neighbourhood street party to celebrate its opening — which is tentatively expected to happen around Christmas time — and to reward the community for their patience. The cost for this is pegged at $5,000.

One proposal calls for a community celebration when the East Lions Community Centre opens, which is expected to happen some time around Christmas. (Andrew Lupton/CBC )

How to vote

On Saturday, Nov. 6, Londoners of all ages can vote for the project they like best.

Oldham said even those who aren't of voting age can cast a ballot, making this a good early lesson in civic engagement.

Online voting will be available on this web page from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 6. Voting stations will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the following locations:

  • City Hall, 300 Dufferin Ave.
  • South London Community Centre, 1119 Jalna Blvd.
  • Stronach Arena, 1221 Sandford St.
  • Hamilton Road Seniors' Centre, 525 Hamilton Rd.
  • Medway Arena & Community Centre, 119 Sherwood Forest Square.

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