News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 02, 2020
 5.5K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 26K     0 
News   GLOBAL  |  Apr 01, 2020
 2.6K     0 

Northern Light

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
18,795
Reaction score
43,100
Hamilton's planner Jason Thorne recently trekked over to London, ON and took some pics of their new streetscape, in Dundas Place.

Pretty impressive.

1599160734860.png


1599160793686.png


Note the retractable Bollards, below:

1599160836997.png


Twitter thread:
 

innsertnamehere

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 8, 2010
Messages
16,826
Reaction score
15,293
City:
Toronto
I did a few province-spanning drives during the peak of the pandemic in May for something to do and with gas in the $0.60 range. One of them was to London to check out Dundas St - (and St. Thomas with it's new downtown street rebuild as well). Dundas street looked great. At the time the only people along it were homeless shooting themselves up though, so it felt quite seedy. I've never spent a significant amount of time in London, but it surprised me how down and out it felt.

Not sure how much of that was related to the pandemic though, and how much of that is "normal".

St. Thomas also has a very nice street rebuild, especially for a smaller community like that.
 

Towered

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
7,215
Reaction score
6,710
Now if only they'd actually get serious about their transit system...

London has a very nice downtown compared with a lot of other mid-sized Ontario cities. I'd say the seedy vibe you're getting is likely pandemic inspired. At the height of the outbreak, Yonge and Dundas felt ridiculously seedy as well.

If you want to see a more disturbing example, go to Brantford...
 

JasonParis

Moderator
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
6,478
Reaction score
1,617
City:
Toronto
Now if only they'd actually get serious about their transit system...
London has a very nice downtown compared with a lot of other mid-sized Ontario cities. I'd say the seedy vibe you're getting is likely pandemic inspired. At the height of the outbreak, Yonge and Dundas felt ridiculously seedy as well.
If you want to see a more disturbing example, go to Brantford...
Despite what most of Ontario thinks of Toronto, I find almost every other Ontario downtown more down and out than ours. Even Barrie is a mess of addicts.
 

gabe

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
4,070
Reaction score
1,248
Canada has a massive drug problem. It's more noticeable in smaller cities like London, Brandford, Guelph, Kitchener, Cambridge, Windsor, Barrie I was shocked how bad it is out west in Vancouver Island in 2018. Nanaimo had a huge tent city right near the downtown with hundreds of homeless people camped out. And this was all before Covid hit.
 

JasonParis

Moderator
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
6,478
Reaction score
1,617
City:
Toronto
It's funny that this urban awareness is coming from London...

About a dozen years back I took a bunch of pics of London, including their City Hall. I wanted to use the correct metadata on the pics online and get their city hall's architect's name as I couldn't find it anywhere at the time. So I emailed London City Hall and they responded that they didn't know who built their city hall, but that "Barb" at Central Branch probably would know if I just wanted to go down there and ask her.
 
Last edited:

mjl08

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 13, 2008
Messages
3,616
Reaction score
1,860

ssiguy2

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 3, 2010
Messages
3,520
Reaction score
1,409
I am somewhat indifferent to her City Hall. It's no a bad building but is a remnant of when it was built in the 1960s.
 

picard102

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 21, 2009
Messages
2,006
Reaction score
768
I'd say the seedy vibe you're getting is likely pandemic inspired.

I lived in London before moving to Toronto. Downtown London was always shitty.
A combination of government services, Fanshaw facilities, failing businesses, and night clubs don't make the area very lively or a destination.
Even the mall was mostly occupied by telemarketing and offices.

It's sketch city.
 

ssiguy2

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 3, 2010
Messages
3,520
Reaction score
1,409
London's new Dundas Place is the icing on the cake but the rejuvenation of "the core" started much earlier. Downtown London was incredibly vibrant up until the early 80s when it's downturn started. By the early 1990s, downtown was horrible and dying and made you want to cry. This was made worse when Eatons and the Bay left eventually closed down. The downtown was nothing but pinball arcades, cheap loans, tattoo shops, and vagrancy with only 9 to 5 office workers remaining. This while suburban malls were exploding and connecting cafe/restaurant/high end shopping/nighclub/attractive Richmond Row wa sucking all the downtown traffic away.

The City then made some exceptionally good urban planning decisions to reverse the trend. The downtown library needed expanding so instead of building a new one they moved into the once empty Eatons Centre and Fanshawe and Western quickly followed with some small classes...........this was a first in Canada and now one that has been emulated by many cities nationwide. It built a new convention centre and to ensure it just wasn't another one competing for the same business, it was the first main convention centre in NA to be designed and geared towards medical conventions which cemented the city as one of the premier medical centres in NA.

It built the new Budweiser Gardens to get rid of the old hockey rink near the 401. It replaced the decrepid Covenent Garden Market with a handsome new building and with an open space in front to encourage impromptu gathering. It provided cheap loans and grants for businesses to bring back the attractive frontage of the old buildings.

It encourage thru tax breaks residential buildings which started slowing and now has turned into a torrent of new high rise condo and apt buildings with a soaring downtown population. It has also given breaks to condo/apt that incorporate public parking into their designs due to a huge loss of them due to new towers. It is a sane acknowledgement that in smaller cities, transit usage will never be as high as in the big cities and people will always drive there but allows for infill without people avoiding the core because "there is no where to park".

All this while the city has NOT been courting large retailers to move back downtown.........it doesn't want them. The city has accepted the fact that it will never be able to compete with the cheap prices and free parking of the suburbs. It does NOT view the malls as competition because they aren't competitors. It has developed it's downtown with the over arching mantra that downtown must be a unique place and not just an alternative to the big boxes.
 
Last edited:

ssiguy2

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 3, 2010
Messages
3,520
Reaction score
1,409
Interesting thing has happened to downtown London since COVID.............the CBC has reported that since the pandemic more businesses have opened in downtown London than have closed.

If you want to check out how Yonge SHOULD be than go to www.dundasplace.ca or #smallsthenewmall. The later really exemplifies why the downtown has seen a resurgence. The City has promoted the idea that downtown is not an alternative to the big box stores and malls but rather something completely different. Again this is part of the reason why downtown has made such a strong comeback and why the city is deliberately NOT trying to get big stores to return to downtown despite it's soaring population and much wealthier demographics.

With smaller/mid-size cities the ones that will be successful are the ones that acknowledge that when it come to big box stores and malls, they simply can't compete so why bother trying. The only large store that the City is trying to get downtown is a major grocery store but that's not really the same thing. This is why Covenant Garden Market, which is a very attractive and vibrant centre, is not opposed to a downtown grocery store because it wouldn't be competition because no one goes there to save money on their groceries. They know that a downtown grocery store will make the downtown even more enticing for people to live in and that's nothing but money in their pocket as the newcomers to downtown tend to be wealthy with a lot of discretionary spending.
 

lenaitch

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
3,808
Reaction score
3,616
I haven't been in downtown London for several years but back then, during the day it was a typical downtown but after hours it was pretty grim. Glad to hear it has had some degree of turnaround.

Drugs and homelessness are a nationwide problem. I think part of the reason it is so noticeable in smaller towns and cities is their downtowns are so much smaller; often one or perhaps two streets them directly into residential. Toronto's downtown is obviously so much bigger and there are multiple pockets where people congregate.
 

Top