London city hall: Odds and ends and news and notes from city council’s Aug. 23 meeting

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Standing against hate

City council unanimously supported a motion to “stand against” racism and hatred, prompted by a white supremacist rally planned for Saturday outside city hall. “To the people who don’t like me, you’re free to hate my faith, you’re free to hate my colour, you’re free to hate me just because I’m an immigrant…But I’m not going nowhere,” Coun. Mo Salih said with emotion. “I’m proud to be working with people around this horseshoe who are never afraid to stand against hate.” Several councillors noted they plan to attend in order to protest the rally.

$10,000 raise

Ward councillors’ pay will be tied to median full-time employment income in London, effective next council term. Councillors voted 9-5 to adopt the recommendation from its compensation review task force, which equates to a raise of 30 per cent or more from the current pay, which has been around $36,000 annually. The mayor’s pay (the taxable equivalent of about $130,000) wasn’t part of the review.

Planning for pot

Council backed a push from two councillors to get London ahead of the curve when it comes to planning for legalized marijuana. City staff were directed to research zoning and regulation options for the city. “Municipalities need to be well prepared, because the federal government has a very ambitious timeline,” Coun. Josh Morgan said.

A deal for Rygar

Developer Rygar has the green light for demolition at 150 Dundas St. – but it must do some homework first. The company’s looking to build a $60-million highrise geared to students at Fanshawe College’s nearby downtown campus. But city council expressed concern about a gap in the downtown landscape if the project is delayed or encounters challenges. Rygar will now be required to obtain final site plan approval and submit full building drawings, what staff describe as a significant investment of time and energy, and guarantee that next-door buildings will be protected during demolition and construction, before the demolition can go ahead.

Discriminatory bylaw off the books

Council struck down a zoning bylaw that required a minimum distance separation between group homes – one that may have opened city hall to legal challenges. Advocates had told council’s planning committee that requiring group homes to be separated by 250 metres was discriminating against developmentally disabled Londoners who require supportive living, and city staff said there was no legitimate planning need for the requirement.

Compiled by Free Press reporter Megan Stacey

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