London: Go big or go home?

As the recession rolls on and stimulus dollars come in, we ask ourselves, “What should we do?”

Should we spend? Should we save? Do we invest in long-term projects or short-term projects? Or BOTH?

The question is being posed to London councillors, and apparently most of them agree that we need to spend. The London Free Press spoke to all 14 city councillors over the weekend and apparently most of them are leaning towards investing stimulus money coming from the federal government in long-term projects that will create jobs. Apparently a favourite is centred around some expansion and upgrades that could turn London International Airport into a major access point, along with upgrades to Veterans Memorial Parkway and access the Highway 401.

Not being one of the people who pays too much attention to what’s going on at City Hall until fairly recently, I would hope that most of the plans for projects like these have already been drawn up and simply need to go through the bidding process now. If not, it will be at least 6 months before any shovels hit the ground.

And you know what? I don’t disagree. I would love to fly in and out of London International more often, rather not driving to Toronto, Detroit or Buffalo. Other things in the area need to be addressed though.

The Hale-Trafalgar railway overpass should be addressed immediately. It’s going to cost us a huge chunk of change – might as well get the federal government to chip in while we can! Not only would it ensure that CN Rail keeps the trains coming through London, but it would ease up congestion in that area and help reduce pollution. Idling at that rail intersection can be horribly long, especially during the winter, and no ticket for idling would go unchallenged.

The other idea being thrown around is extending Veterans Memorial Parkway north. My goodness, that’s something that should have been done when they first upgraded VMP! The fact that it ends at Huron St is mind boggling. It should connect with Fanshawe Park Rd at the very least, preferably all the way up to Medway Rd.

We may not be able to put in a ring road, but dammit we can get something resembling one! And we surely need better, easier ways to get from south to north London, especially right off the highway. VMP is really the only way you can do that now, but clearly it doesn’t get you all the way there.

Other than that, there are some thoroughways that need some major work. Wharncliffe Rd S, near Bad Boy, needs to be re-paved now that Bad Boy and the new Teppermans are complete.

Apparently the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority would like to move ahead with a new $10 million headquarters. As long as they’re only using stimulus money, I’m all for it but not at the expensive of other initiatives that Londonders can quantify and see immediately. I think the airport idea, along with expending VMP would be far more beneficial both in the short and long-term.

And what of some of those much needed infrastructure upgrades? Should be we doing what we can in order to avoid yet another sinkhole? Or will it take the watermain going down Wonderland Rd N at Oxford busting again, or better yet another major downtown intersection turning into a hole, before we say that’s a good thing to spend stimulus money on? It would involve engineers, construction workers, local firms producing new watermains, the works!

What do you think we should spend the stimulus money on?