A letter to city hall regarding the Meadowlily retail development proposal

A letter to the municipal goverment in London, Ontario
from the Post-Carbon London steering committee:
(regarding issues that you can learn more about here and — if you dig through recent posts at the following site — here).


London Councillors and City Staff:

The proposed big box retail complex -- far from core areas of London, at 168 Meadowlily Road South -- would further increase our dependency on automobiles and fossil fuels, while leading to further destruction of local farmlands and carbon sinks. This proposal is completely unacceptable, given how it is increasing clear that global warming and fossil fuel depletion (including worldwide "peak oil") are realities that we must face. The sooner our city recognizes these facts and begins taking major steps toward embracing this reality, the better off we will be. While we proactively face fossil fuel depletion and global warming challenges, we also can confront smog, oil spills, and various other social and environmental problems associated with the consumption, distribution, and extraction of fossil fuels.

We must refuse to accept development projects that continue to contribute to global warming. A retail complex far from the core of the city is at odds with these important goals, as consumers will tend to reach such retail outlets in cars -- an inefficient mode of transportation.

In addition, the infrastructure required to support this new retail shopping plaza will be an enormous waste. Although proponents will say that these up front costs will be paid for with development fees and taxes, London will be on the hook for all the maintenance and surrounding upgrades required. In an energy constrained future, the cost of attempting to maintain this infrastructure will be an unnecessary burden on Londoners.

Moreover, we should be preserving precious local farmlands toward the outskirts of inhabited areas of the city -- with the Meadowlily woods, and surrounding carbon sinks. Yet, another heavily trafficked big box retail complex would be a magnet for further construction -- over what presently are important farmlands and carbon sinks that we still can preserve.

Important changes can happen at the local and community level. Our city hall should be a centre of proactive change to help residents to deal with looming energy constraints, while -- at the same time -- mitigating ongoing global warming. This means that our mode of business as usual needs to change; but London does not have to be anti-business to make these changes. Instead, we should support businesses which are suited to a lower carbon and lower energy future. We should not be making choices that clearly are a holdover from a past when we did not understand global warming and energy constraints.

Given the aforementioned grounds for grave concerns about this proposal, London city planners and councillors should stand firm by rejecting this submission, which promotes further steps away from sustainability. Approving this development proposal would be an enormous mistake.

Post-Carbon London


The Post-Carbon London steering committee co-wrote the above statement (and I don't mean to suggest otherwise by posting it on this blog).

Tonight I was the one from the group who presented a nearly identical version of this letter to the London municipal planning committee at a public participation meeting (which followed an earlier rally to oppose the big box retail development discussed in the above letter).


Toban Black's picture

Meeting outcome

Here's what someone said to me about the outcome of last night's meeting -
"The Planning Committee decided to defer the application pending a new process: open, city-led and community-oriented, rather than closed and developer-led."
As that person noted in the same e-mail, such community involvement would entail ongoing efforts (from Post-Carbon London, for example).

Someone else also has just told me that "Smart?Centres have a plan for an even bigger retail complex in the SW end of the city in 2009. "