High-end, high-rise condominium living is becoming more and more attractive to potential buyers because of its innate convenience and luxurious features. Young professionals and retired couples alike have been making a move from large houses or starter homes in the suburbs to impressive condos in the city centre. Convenience meets luxury for the occupants of these apartments and London has seen and will continue to see a vast influx of high-rises in the coming years. This wave of development is the start of a new era for London’s skyline, and in the wake of the Renaissance Towers’ sheer success, Tricar has done it again with the recently erected Azure Tower. The appeal of high-rise living is growing tremendously, especially for Londoners and the constantly changing weather. The main advantage of living in a luxury condominium downtown is the access to amenities and worry-free lifestyle of maintaining a house, backyard. Shovelling snow? Not a problem once you don’t have a driveway! The building’s address is 505 Talbot Street. Located on the north side of Dufferin Avenue it is the perfect spot in walking distance to everything downtown yet shy enough of the core that it’s possible to avoid the crowds of people, especially in the summertime. The proximity to Budweiser Gardens makes this a prime location for Londoners. There is always something going on in the downtown core, and for Azure occupants, right at their doorstep! Victoria Park is only 5-minute walk away, and there are plenty of bus stops in the area, allowing residents access to the rest of the city with ease. Residents will love the views from the tower, if situated in the right spot they’ll be able to look down on Labatt Baseball Diamond, Harris Park and the Thames River! Those residents who aren’t situated that way can always enjoy the rooftop terrace and get a 360 view of the city. Let’s talk construction. Tricar is the builder behind Azure Tower and has been in high-rise and condominium development for thirty years now. As a big-wig developer for southwestern Ontario, Tricar has become a household name for anyone who’s interested in real estate and building. Their commitment to revitalizing downtown cores and withholding a certain standard of luxurious living is undeniable. With over 5,000 luxury apartment and condominiums since the beginning, it makes sense why the development of Azure is predicted to be a significant success and benefit for London’s downtown core. Holding the record as the tallest residential tower in the city, Azure Tower is nothing short of impressive. It features a full 29 floors of 198 unique suites and amenities. There are fifteen suites available throughout the building and feature variances in floor-plan, size, amount of bedrooms, bathrooms etc. The lobby itself will offer a colourful and welcoming ambience with gorgeous interiors and incredibly well-done design. The building will boast high-speed elevators which is essential for a tower as tall as 29 floors. The 29th floor is full of remarkable amenities that’ll surely sway any potential buyer. Azure has been built for a luxurious and convenient life and the facilities offered in the building are pretty impressive. The 29th rooftop floor boasts a sizeable open terrace which, once completed, will be beautifully furnished with outdoor furniture for lounging, barbecues and a fire pit perfect to host guests during the summer months. In addition to a terrace, residents can take advantage of a ‘social lounge’. The lounge will be home to a bar area and a pool table. For more recreation, residents can take advantage of the state-of-the-art golf simulator which is indoors and available all year round. For those hoping to host larger parties, residents will be able to rent out a decked out prep kitchen and dining space. The amenity floor also features a library and lounge area perfect for studying, and offers stunning views of the city from the 29th floor!
Tricar Group is devoted to ensuring their developments are as environmentally sustainable as possible, and with that comes major commitment to building efficient infrastructure. Azure Tower will be the very first residential high-rise building in London to be LEED certified! So what does a LEED certification mean for a building of this stature? LEED stands for Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design. To become certified, a building must meet specific requirements proving that the building is efficient in various ways. By meeting these requirements, Azure Tower is enabling condo-owners to live a sustainable life and save money on energy simultaneously. This means the building was erected with specifically sustainable efficacies in mind, including the location, providing residents with quick access to transportation thus ensuring heightened connectivity within the community. Azure Tower is complete with state of the art cooling and heating systems, which significantly improves the indoor air quality and balances out the air flow, ensuring the healthiest air all the time. In addition to this, Tricar Group has implemented green roofs and water efficient landscaping. This saves water consumption for the building as a whole and the green power will provide 35%, if not more, electricity to the building – ultimately saving homeowners money and foregoing the waste on non-renewable energy. Residents who own electric vehicles, or who are thinking about purchasing one, will be pleased to note that there are car charging stations available, and those who cycle will have access to secure bike storage. These efforts to promote a green lifestyle are remarkable, as a green tower is necessary for the future. The high rises of the future will undoubtedly possess every sustainable feature possible, providing residents with direct access to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Whether it is promoting residents to walk instead of drive to their essential amenities, think about purchasing an electric vehicle or waste less electricity, it’s imperative for the high rises of the future to be built in an ecofriendly manner.
Tricar Group has made a name for itself by providing residents in southwestern Ontario with luxurious buildings second to none. As previously mentioned there are 15 suite types, but all boast a similar feel. Each suite encompasses an open concept with plenty of natural light and incredible views through high-end glass windows. Suites available range from two bedrooms, two bedrooms plus den, three bedrooms and penthouse with small variances between each one. The kitchen in each suite is graciously designed with the resident in mind, offering state-of-the-art appliances available in lavish granite or quartz. The Tricar Group website has listed all the specifications available in every suite in the building, for more detailed info you can check them out here http://www.tricar.com/ . Each suite will vary slightly but these are the basic specifications found in each one throughout the building:
Premium flooring, wide plank engineered hardwood flooring in your choice of colour and plush carpeting with high-density underlay in bedrooms
80” designer two-panel interior doors
Oversized, extra-deep balconies with tempered glass and aluminum railings
Closets with premium wire shelving
High-efficiency appliances and built-in laundry
Programmable thermostat and humidistat for personalized temperature control
Energy-efficient lighting fixtures
Heating and cooling through centralized gas-fired boiler
Sound appealing to you? If you’re interested in Azure it would be smart to look into it sooner rather than later. Move-in dates are set for July and as of April 2018, over 80% of the units are already sold! While every suite is undoubtedly luxurious and well-built, the range of condominium pricing in the building is pretty vast. Suites start as low as $300k and skyrocket all the way up to $1M penthouse suites. Obviously there is a difference in square footage and interiors, but ever suite is built with the same vibe in mind and every resident will certainly feel at home in this building. Not looking for a while? Don’t worry as London is set to embark on a skyline improvement with plans for many high-rises in the next decade there will surely be a luxurious condo suited to your needs! The growth rate in London is growing by the year, and predictions that there will be a significant influx of people moving from the GTA to downtown London will only be satisfied by the implementation of high-rise towers in the core. Azure is setting the standard for luxurious living in the heart of London. This is an exciting time for the city as London as it comes at a time when The City is making a valiant effort to revitalize the downtown core. The implementation of luxury high-rise condominiums is no doubt going to add to the appeal of living downtown. Whether a couple coming up to retirement is looking to leave the hassle of taking care of their home for a more convenient and lavish lifestyle, or a young professional is looking to purchase their first place and want to be part of the action in the downtown core, Azure Tower will definitely fill their needs. Convenience meets luxury for residents of Azure Tower and following the success of Tricar Groups Renaissance Towers in downtown London, we have no doubt that Azure tower will undergo similar successes and pave the way for high-rises and the impending revitalization of the downtown core. Between this and the Dundas Flex Street, big things are happening and we are so excited to be in on the action. What do you think about Azure Tower? Do you support The City’s push to revitalise the downtown core by implementing numerous high-rise residential towers? Let us know on any of our social media accounts linked below and don’t forget to comment, like and share!
April 21st was International Record Store Day, so we thought we’d celebrate by rounding up the best spots in our Forest City for vinyl! Whether you’re someone who’s been thinking of dabbling in the wonderful world of vinyl or you’re a full-on record connoisseur, these spots will surely satisfy all your musical cravings and curiosities. London’s budding music scene is complete with small venues that showcase local bands and ranges all the way up to Budweiser Gardens, which is the largest venue of its kind in southwestern Ontario! What’s even better is the city is full of spots to purchase that new vinyl you’ve been eyeing down, and the staff are always in the know about the goings on of the music scene in the city. It’s no secret that vinyl is trending amongst millennials. Whether you’ve just purchased that portable Crosley turntable from Urban Outfitters or you’re looking to break in your dad’s vintage Pioneer PL12D from the 70’s, we’ve got you covered with the hottest spots to start your LP collection or add to it!
A Forest City classic, Grooves Records has been selling an insane selection of vinyl, CD’s and DVD’s for years and shows no sign of stopping. Most Londoners will be familiar with their previous location on Clarence Street, but they’ve since moved to a fresh new spot just around the corner on Dundas Street. Grooves Records made a reputation for themselves as a gathering place for music lovers since they opened. An awesome community of people who share a common interest, what’s not to love? One of the many remarkable things about Grooves Records is their commitment to showcasing local talent. They do this by holding shows right in their store! The small sets are always intimate and showcase local talent right in their city, and what better venue than one where music is always the star of the show. Grooves selection of records is undeniably impressive; they’ve got pretty much every genre you can think of. From used vinyls to rare box sets, brand new recordings and the rarest of LP’s, Grooves has you covered. They even sell accessories such as record boxes, t-shirts, concert tickets and more. They’ve even been known to do concert ticket giveaways for venues as large as Budweiser Gardens. Grooves cares about their customers and always offers help to those lost souls looking for a new record to jam out to. Can’t find what you’re looking for in the store? They can order in certainly almost any record you’re lookin’ for if you don’t feel like hitting up Amazon yourself, they save you the hassle! Grooves also sets up shop outside of their store at Home County Fair each year with a tent full of cool records for sale. Customers love shopping at Grooves because there always seems to be some sort of sale, whether its buy three get one free, for 25% off there’s always some money to be saved when shopping at Grooves! The customers always feel included and special at the shop, and that’s why it’s become a London favourite. They hold special events and sales, and even held a Kids Album Art contest at their Record Store Day event last year. We can’t fail to mention the fact that Grooves has even set up their own label! They support local talent and were tired of seeing such talent come and go due to a lack of finances. This is what lead the awesome people down at Grooves Records to create a space for local bands to record and have their music pressed onto vinyl! The freshly pressed vinyl is then exclusively sold in-store. This is an impressive feat for a small store and a fantastic ode to the talent that London has to offer!
Saturdays just got a whole lot better for music lovers! Old East Village Vinyl has established themselves as an awesome one stop shop for finding those rare gems or beginning your LP collection! Add this to your Saturday morning routine and you won’t be disappointed. Visit our friends down at the Fritter Shop to fuel up before spending your morning perusing the impressive collection of records for the limited amount of space allotted to Old East Village Vinyl. They’re booming with rare finds as well as the classics and new hits. We can’t think of a much better way to spend a Saturday morning than grabbing a delicious blueberry fritter before purchasing a fantastically well-kept Bee Gees album to rock out to later in the day. The best part about shopping at Old East Village Vinyl and the Western Fair Market is that you’re supporting local. Us at Santa Knows Best are passionate about sourcing locally and supporting the community. By incorporating the Western Fair Market into your Saturday morning routine, you’re undoubtedly giving back to the community by supporting multiple local businesses! And you’re getting amazing music and the highest quality records. What’s not to love! We know we’ll be hitting up the market this Saturday to get our Fritter fix and to check out the new shipment of Old East Village records!
Established in 1977, Speed City Records has made a name for itself as London’s longest standing record store with an indie focus. Located in southwest, London on Springbank Drive, what was a passion project of a former record store employee has turned into a twenty-year stint of being one of London’s most sought-after record stores. The beauty of Speed City is their dedication to music. They opened as a record store and kept it that way, focusing on music and accessories and nothing more (except maybe a little bit of pinball). The ambience of the quaint shop offers a no-frills, vibe that allows you to dive straight into their massive collection of records without being distracted by gaudy décor or memorabilia that’s not vintage records. The music that’s available at Speed City is widely varied. They purchase a ton of different genres, more specifically rock, jazz, blues, soul, R&B, alternative, punk, heavy metal, reggae, electronic and hip hop. In addition to selling a ton of records, Speed City sells accessories for those beloved vinyls. These accessories range from turntables to amplifiers and speakers – new and old there is a wide selection at the store. Speed City Records has been part of London’s music scene, providing avid music fans with collections and rare finds for over twenty years. Speed City is all about supporting London’s music scene, always open to selling local records, CD’s and cassettes as well as showcasing posters for upcoming shows! Their online presence is awesome and they’ve brought some amazing events to the city, including the London Record Show. The London Record Show is a huge event held at Centennial Hall and is the quintessential vinyl collectors’ heaven. The event showcases a massive collection of all the London record store greats in one room, offering up hundreds of records for a ridiculously low price. There will be blood, sweat and tears at this show, for those dedicated metal heads and classical addicts looking for the last piece to complete their collection, but it’s worth it and has become a traditional London event since its inaugural show in 1983! It’s an important time for the music scene in London as it brings all the record stores and the music community together under one roof, because of one common interest: music. Speed City has a major focus on music, but let’s be honest, everyone has a side hustle and Speed City is no exception to that. They are passionate about pinball and buy and sell pinball machines! They are also the business behind weekly local league night registered by International Pinball Flipper’s Association at Call The Office.
The Village Idiot is located in the beloved Wortley Village of London. The beautifully named record store is a direct reflection of its location. Charming, quaint and independent. What more could you want in a record store? Shopping in this small store jam packed with records is always a delightful way to spend an afternoon after charging up on some much-needed coffee from any of the cute café’s located in the village. Not only those who live in Wortley are privy to the awesomeness that is The Village Idiot, music lovers from all around town known this is a place to go if they’re in the market for a rare find. There are lots of hidden gems to be found in this store, and quality is never sacrificed. The Village Idiot is also the place to go to brush up on your vinyl knowledge, as the employees are full of interesting facts and info, always teaching you something about the music before you head out the door! Like other record stores in the city, this spot of course supports local. You can also purchase tickets for local concerts through the store.
City Lights Bookshop has been around since 1975 and is one of those stores that you never forget. A quaint, ever-trendy spot in the heart of downtown, London, this place has been offering pop culture odds and ends to Londoners with its unique flair, and will likely continue to do so for many years ahead. Not just a record store, City Lights sells used books, vinyl, movies and music. Because of its vintage flair, it has become a spot that music lovers go to find that one rare vinyl they haven’t been able to get their hands on, or to score that little-known gem that’ll add the perfect amount of spice to their growing collection. An inviting atmosphere complete with two floors of vintage items, pop culture paraphernalia, adult magazines, postcards and used books. While it’s easy to get lost in the labyrinth that is City Lights Bookshop, the upstairs is dedicated to entertainment and music. The cosy atmosphere is reminiscent of what you’d picture a traditional used bookstore to be like, but sloshed with trinkets and items that give it a unique throwback feel. This London gem, while located in a drab part of the downtown core, has made a name for itself as a classic hotspot for bookworms and music lovers alike. Check them out next time you’re craving a new (used) addition to your collection and you’ll surely leave feeling satisfied like a kid in a candy store!
Sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance. It is more than just a growing trend; sustainability is a necessity. Since the world is facing some grave environmental consequences from the pollution and ignorance of eco-friendly practices, it is more imperative than ever to produce communities that emphasize the importance of sustainable living. Green initiatives are present throughout London, Ontario whether it is recycling awareness in schools, eco-friendly homes, using the internet instead of paper, using solar panels or the City Green Community etc. These initiatives are fantastic, but there is a lack of community-based, comprehensive sustainability. That’s about to change with the development of Ontario’s first sustainable community of its kind, right in our Forest City! Sifton is currently constructing West 5, their ambitious vision of a small, net-zero village in west London. What is net-zero you ask? The answer is simple; a community that produces as much energy as it consumes each year. This development is a commitment to think about the future in regards to saving energy and being environmentally friendly. It is located at the gates of West London, and is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city but easily connects to major arteries throughout. The specifications of West 5 include 450,000 square feet of commercial space and 2,000 townhomes, condominiums, apartments and retirement residences. The goal of this development is to create a community that lives and grows with each other. The small village-like subdivision will boast everything a resident may need, from retail stores to pathways and trails, restaurants, parking, events and fitness/recreational opportunities – all in a sustainable manner, ensuring energy savings in all aspects.
The West 5 complex isn’t so much a place to give back to the community; it’s a green district that relies on sustainable resources for energy. The hope here is that by drawing power from unlimited natural elements (such as the sun), the use of our limited natural resources on earth will decrease over time while simultaneously benefiting the community in different ways. The implementation of solar panels will generate clean electricity and reduce energy costs at the same time. Solar parkades will not only keep your car safe from the heat, rain and snow; they will also generate a ton of power for the community. Solar energy is a resource that we will be able to use for years and years to come. By implementing solar power into the neighbourhood, Sifton is setting the residents up for energy savings not only today but for the future. Electric vehicle charge ports will be installed. These will add to the appeal of purchasing an electric vehicle for those who are living in the community. These ports will eventually give back to the town over and over again by reducing gas consumption, meaning more money in pockets and a greener planet in the future. There are also plans to include high-performance road surfaces. These surfaces will improve the speed of snow and ice melting, reducing the amount of salt needed throughout the neighbourhood.
Office and Retail Spaces
This groundbreaking initiative will start with the creation of Sifton’s Head Office, a state-of-the-art building that is being designed and constructed to power itself. This is about creating the most amazing lifestyle that you can enjoy today and tomorrow. West 5 is committing itself to providing the most cutting-edge and modern office spaces. These offices won’t only be environmentally friendly but will also provide companies with the most advanced workspaces. Companies who possess a progressive, forward thinking philosophy will no doubt show interest in this leasing opportunity. There are two main office buildings, the Sifton Centre and the retail and office spaces spread throughout the subdivision. The Sifton Centre offers first and second-floor office opportunities, as well as ground floor retail. The Mixed-Use Retail & Office Buildings will have four floors of office leasing opportunities. These office buildings are complete with net-zero efficiency and have been developed to power themselves. 1st building is Net Zero – designed and constructed to power itself 2nd-floor tenants will overlook the green roof. The windows are made of thermal glass and automatically tint, adjusting to the sunlight. The office spaces are surrounding by retail, restaurants and activity – leaving no shortage of things to do over lunch etc. There is free WiFi in all public areas of West 5. Cyclists can take advantage of the indoor secured bicycle parking, and drivers will benefit from free parking. As of April 2018, there are five companies are located in the Sifton Centre. Backroads Brews & Shoes London, MedPoint Executive Fitness, Edward Jones Investments, West Five Family Dentistry. Sifton Properties even uprooted their downtown office and made a move to the West 5 spaces. Backroads Brews & Shoes is an amalgamation of running and coffee. The owners are avid long-distance runners and have committed to opening up a shop that specialises in running. The retail store sells all running apparel and the owners are shoe fit experts. They wanted to add a twist to your run of the mill running store and added a cafe to it. The best part? They’re licensed and feature local beers on tap, such as Anderson Cream Ale and Toboggan Stout. This creates a space where people come together whether it’s after a day of shopping, before or after the running club meets up, or just while you’re walking through the complex! These businesses are just the beginning for the office spaces in the West 5 community. They expect to see it flourish in the next few years and fill up with an array of different businesses from retail stores to restaurants. The implementation of businesses to this village-like neighbourhood is crucial to turn it into a self-sustaining community, economically speaking.
Townhomes and Residences
The townhomes are scheduled to be complete by the end of spring, and residents are now officially renting. Potential renters can choose from seven contemporary suite styles. These include 2-bedroom, 2-bedroom and den, 3-bedroom, 3-bedroom and den. The townhomes will have a selection of modern paint colours, designer finishes and beautiful 9ft ceilings in the main living areas. Details in the suites include luxury vinyl plank flooring, luxury carpeting in bedrooms and glazed porcelain tile in the bathrooms. Kitchens boast fresh cabinetry, and quartz countertops and Energy Star certified stainless steel appliances (refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer). Every suite is, of course, wired for cable, internet and phone. A bonus for townhome renters is the ample parking for themselves and guests, as well as multiple private garages and private terraces. Community living is an inescapable part of West 5’s success. To achieve a completely sustainable net-zero community, the homes within must use a lot less energy than typical housing. To make the homes more energy efficient, specific differences in the development were made. Firstly, additional insulation is fitted in the townhouse walls, thus ensuring the living area is better protected from cold weather, and heat is trapped more efficiently within the home without air leaking out. The furnaces are top of their line. They are modulating electric heaters which use advanced technologies to decrease temperature fluctuations. These furnaces continuously carry warm air from one place to another, ensuring the home is always at a consistent temperature. For additional energy saving, the townhomes boast drain water heat recovery. As warm water from showers and sinks goes down the drain, it passes over a system of copper coils. These coils capture the existing heat from the hot water and use that to pre-heat incoming cold water. LED lighting is the norm for West 5. LED lights are much more efficient than the alternative and can last over twenty years. The fresh urban architecture will impress potential residents and retirees looking to move. These will boast 100% energy efficiency and will be complete with Energy Star rated appliances. Retirement residents can enjoy planned events and activities and partake in personalised wellness support services. Since West 5 is a village complete with restaurants and shopping, this gives retirement residents freedom to enjoy the community without worrying about driving far.
The community aspect of West 5 is incomparable to any other neighbourhood in the city. To bring people together in a village-like environment, Sifton is incorporating a Central Park. The park will bring West 5 to life, adding a pleasant and comfortable aspect to the neighbourhood. This is imperative to bringing a community closer together as the park is where residents can enjoy time outside, walk their dogs and be active. The park is located centrally so residents have super quick access to it. The housing and the complex at large are interconnected through pathways, trails and open green spaces. The official West 5 website pegs the area as a possessing pedestrian-centric design. The focus on allowing residents to freely walk around with no worries about bustling streets with cars is always a plus. Central Park, while being environmentally friendly, is a place to bring residents together. It is designed to be a premier destination for not just residents of the neighbourhood but all Londoners with a variety of events going on throughout the year. Sifton envisions events like Easter egg hunts, movies at twilight, food festivals, concerts, yoga sessions, the lighting of the Christmas tree. Food markets on Saturday mornings and outdoor games area make Central Park the number one place for residents to gather. We value the concept of modern technology advancing the use of renewable resources. Who wouldn’t? We have been burning through our natural resources at a rate faster than the planet can handle and change must happen. West 5 is a big leap for the residential and commercial industry, and if it’s successful, it could be a turning point for future developments in southwestern, Ontario. What is your opinion on West 5? Do you think a net-zero community is attainable, or too ambitious? Let us know on any of our social media links down below and don’t forget to comment, like and share!
Out with the old and in with the new should be the new motto for London, Ontario’s downtown core. With a significant push to revitalize the community and vibrancy of the heart of downtown, London is about to get much more exciting! Following the success of The Millennial Plan which saw the completion of Budweiser Gardens, Covent Garden Market and Forks of the Thames improvements, London is on the move again. Seeking to emphasize public and private partnership, the city of London is implementing Our Move Forward, a plan that will encourage a successful downtown that attracts both business, investment and local engagement. A significant part of this plan is to completely revamp a portion of Dundas Street that goes right through the heart of London’s core. Dundas Street holds a historical past and is an integral part of the city’s economy and culture. While this part of downtown is still home to many remarkable businesses and traffic flow throughout the day, it lacks the panache and liveliness that a downtown centre should encompass. It is in need of a revamp to enrich and invigorate the attractiveness of the city to investors and businesses, as well as local consumers and pedestrians. “Make Dundas Street the most exciting place in London,” is the motto for this project. For any Londoner who’s made their way down this stretch of road in recent years, the most exciting place in London would probably not be the sentence best used to describe this stretch of road. As London focused on growing out in years past by building up the commercial and residential infrastructure on the outskirts of the city, the city will see an influx of momentum is working on the downtown core now and for years to come, eventually making Dundas Street the most exciting place to be in London again! So what does this mean exactly? There are several transformational projects that have been planned for the downtown core in upcoming years. These projects will turn existing areas into community hubs that bring Londoners closer together and greater connect them to the rest of the Forest City including a Cross River Improvement, a promenade at the Forks of the Thames River and Laneway Connections in the downtown core. One of the most important phases of these plans, however, is to transform the stretch of Dundas Street between Wellington Street and Ridout Street, to a destination that can be converted into a venue for street festivals, concerts, public gatherings and more. The renovation of Dundas Place will be a transformation from a humdrum road full of interesting characters and run-down buildings to a community space full of vibrancy, rich culture, modern roadworks and much needed updated underground infrastructure. The new and improved Dundas Place will be a “Flex Street”. A flex street is a shared street that puts legal emphasis on pedestrians and cyclists over motorists. By creating a shared space, lowering speed limits and calming traffic, the street becomes a pedestrian-friendly area to share with motorists. Motorists will be able to drive through like normal at certain times when traffic is heavier. When traffic is lighter, motorized vehicle usage will be significantly reduced, creating a pedestrian-friendly area. This allows the space to become a fully functioning flex street home to pedestrian spaces, retail pop-up shops, festivals, concerts and any other programmed activities that require an open space in the heart of downtown London. The goal of the flex street is to allow a working road in the heart of the city seamlessly transition to a space reminiscent of a civic plaza or piazza. This will re-enforce Dundas Street as the most exciting and inviting spot in the city, encouraging Londoners to visit the core of their city rather than the edges of it like they have in the past. The idea of flex streets are new to London, but not the rest of the world. Many cities in Europe have adopted this style of public street, providing pedestrians with a more interactive experience with businesses, and less worry of negative engagement with people driving motor vehicles. Flex streets create a community-based feel in busy areas of the city while maintaining the ability to decrease congestion on a versatile street built for both pedestrian and motor vehicle use. Many Londoners may have already seen this type of street if they have trained to Toronto recently. There was an implementation of a $16M flex streetscape right outside the front of Union Station across from the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. This street created a welcome mat for visitors to the city of Toronto. Probably the biggest inspiration for Dundas Place is Ottawa’s Spark Street, a pedestrian-only stretch of road boasting various artwork, fountains, restaurants and shopping. While these streets boast similar fundamental values, Dundas Place will bring its own flair and stay true to its London roots, creating a streetscape much different than the ones in Toronto and Ottawa. A vision for the new plan came from Dillon Consulting, a London engineering firm that has called London its home since 1945. Working with the staff at City Hall, Dillon Consulting prepared the infrastructure design and the streetscaping works to tender the contract over the past winter. The contractor is Amico Infrastructures from Cambridge and Windsor. Construction began in early April 2018 at Ridout Street and will continue through the summer working eastwards toward Wellington Street. As construction on Dundas Place unfolds, check out www.dundasplace.ca for updated information from the workers on the construction site. Plans for the first phase of construction of Dundas Place are set to be completed approximately by the end of October 2018. Construction of the flex street will cost around $27M plus engineering and contract administration. The City is taking on $10M of that cost, with the remaining $12M coming from utility companies doing infrastructure work at the same time as the flex street construction. While it may seem like a ton of money to spend, there are certain sewer lines that are as old as 1949, so if the flex street wasn’t in the works, infrastructure updates would have been anyways. The sewers and water mains will be extensively upgraded, as well as the hydro distribution foundation. Construction is underway as of April 2018 and will continue through the summer. There are plans to see the completed Dundas Place by the end of this construction season. Construction is obviously an impediment to businesses running but there will be continuous provisions to pedestrian traffic to allow access to stores and businesses as much as possible. The merchants on the stretch of Dundas undergoing developments have mixed opinions. Some are optimistic about the project and believe this will be tremendous for their business in the long run while others are concerned about the business they will lose in the period of construction. In addition to the businesses being affected, there has been a certain amount of controversy surrounding the plans because of panhandlers and certain characters in the area. The city expects that the implementation of the flex street will only improve the state of the crowds drawn to Dundas Street. Once construction is complete on Dundas Place a normal day on Dundas Street will have two lanes of traffic up and down the street, but instead of curbs on each side, there will be bollards (posts) along the road. These bollards can be pulled out, widening the street so it’s fairly level for pedestrian use during events like festivals and community gatherings. In conjunction with all that, there will be added street furniture such as benches, wastebaskets, street trees. The paved surfaces will utilize paving stones and decorative, coloured concrete surfaces. It will be an improved and more versatile version of existing streets downtown. As far as traffic flow is concerned, Clarence, Richmond and Talbot will all be open to traffic like normal, but drivers won’t be able to turn off on to Dundas. Dundas Street today is a major bus route, which have been rerouted permanently to Queens Ave. Dundas Street is an integral part to London’s rich culture. It has been a main traffic corridor since the days of horses and electric streetcars. Thousands of Londoners drive or walk down this street every day and it is refreshing to see the dedication the city has to revitalizing this fundamental stretch of road in the heart of the greater downtown core. As a business (Santa Knows Best) located on the stretch of road that Dundas Place will be, it will be amazing to see the transformation. This particular stretch of road has already seen an intense influx of crowds and culture since the construction the downtown Fanshawe campus. The implementation of a flex street will no doubt bring back the flair that the spine of a city centre should have. We are anticipating that Dundas Place will continue to enrich the culture of downtown for years to come, and improve the prevailing opinion of downtown London as a boring core with nothing going on. The Flex Street will provide unlimited opportunities for businesses and events and leave people wanting to come back for more, time after time. The location couldn’t be better as it is right across from Covent Garden Market and Budweiser Gardens, and only a short walk from Victoria Park. There’s no doubt the summer months will see plenty of amazing events and pop-up gatherings on this pedestrian, community-oriented flex street. Maybe the success of this transformational project for London will encourage London and other cities to implement this type of community-based street in different areas, further engaging the community and brining locals together while boosting the economic values along the particular stretch of road with heightened business for merchants and vendors.
This week I stopped by Haven’s Creamery and visited the founder Alana Coughlin to learn more about her business, and to make some ice cream! Haven’s Creamery is batch by batch, handcrafted ice cream with locally sustained ingredients. You can feel and taste the difference. In a city with endless surrounding produce, dairies and a long healthy growing season; Haven’s Creamery brings farm to spoon products full of integrity and wholesome flavour for everyone to enjoy. Our ice cream is made with pure cream, whole milk, egg yolk and sugar. The ice cream is flavoured with real, local ingredients, and that’s it, no preservatives, no enhancers and no stabilizers. We use ingredients that families feel comfortable supporting and feeding to their children and loved ones. Haven’s creamery offers a unique combination of advantages that are unmatched by other ice cream options. We differentiate ourselves by offering an artisanal product, a healthier option and a stronger focus on local and sustainable ingredients. We pride ourselves on our exceptional quality. Our ice cream is simple, made with great care, and costs competitively similar to alternative options.
This week I visited Nicole Haney, founder and president of Boho Bake Shop. They are a health food bakery that makes gluten free, vegan, whole food donuts and snack bars. All of their products are free of refined sugars, artificial additives, and processed ingredients! They currently have 11 different flavors options of gourmet doughnuts, and 6 flavors of Boho Bars. You can find them at the Western Fair Farmers and Artisans Market on Saturdays, where the also sell Booch Organic Kombucha and Nuts For Cheese. They also sell their Boho Bars in over 50 retail partners across Ontario. Locally, you can find their products at 10Eighteen in Old East Village and Fire Roasted Coffee Co.
This week I visited the two co-founders and owners of DOS TACOS on Richmond Row. After visiting California and admiring their Taco scene, they decided to bring the flavour to Downtown London. They use fresh ingredients and take a different approach to the classic Mexican dish. DOS TACOS is an express taco restaurant and also does catering for events and parties. They are also open late, so this is a must-go spot for that post-bar grub!
London has been a city beloved by its locals for years. However, a recent push for the development of richer culture and economy has made the city even greater to its people. The city is expanding, and the numbers are there to prove it. According to statistics acquired from the last two national censuses, the city of London grew by 4.8% between 2011 and 2016. London is the eleventh largest in Canada and now home to over 380,000 people. Central London is home to over 11,000 people and over 4,000 of those are residents in the more specific Downtown pocket. This was a 17% increase from 2006 up to 2011. These numbers will have no doubt risen between 2011 and now and with the implementation of multiple high-rises to the downtown core, London will be more attractive to buyers than ever before. There has a been a concerted effort by Londoners to improve the local culture. With the rise of the Old East Village and an inrush of companies that source locally, London has cultivated a remarkable reputation for itself amongst locals and those from afar. In fact, London has seen an influx of out-of-town buyers, specifically from the GTA in recent years. The diverse economy of London is undeniable, and it has become a city that thrives off its people. With a growing interest from out-of-town buyers and locals alike to move to central London, it only makes sense to begin building up instead of out. London has dramatically expanded the edges of the city in the past 15 to 20 years. Masonville Commercial District and Hyde Park specifically have been wildly built up with residential and commercial developments growing at a rapid rate. What were once vacant fields and ghost towns are thriving economic epicentres for the city. While this is beneficial for existing Londoners with cars, more and more people want to live in the downtown core. In addition to expanding the edges of the city, significant efforts to enrich the local culture and bring the city as a whole together are in motion. Plans for a reconstructed Dundas Street streetscape are underway; which is certainly the largest transformative project of its nature the city has seen. (Stay tuned for a more comprehensive article about this exciting flex street that will unquestionably enhance the downtown experience!) In addition to this, an improved waterfront and more bike lanes will encourage Londoners to engage with the outdoors. One of the most significant and expensive changes will be the Bus Rapid Transit system which will (in the next decade) connect Londoners to the city at large in a more accessible manner. Together, these plans will increase diversity, cohesiveness and quality of the Downtown London experience. While these are both necessary and awesome strides in improving the Forest City culture, but the residential aspect of the centre also needs improvements. The London skyline is dismal at the moment, but in a decade or two, it’ll look dramatically different. The City is categorically in favour of pushing for residential high-rises in the city centre and plans are in motion to draw more attention to the core of the city rather than the edges. In fact, the city used 2017 as a push for developers. They implemented a program to eradicate specific development charges necessary to build high-rises in the downtown core. The program meant developers would not be charged for growth fees for downtown residential projects. This is all part of an effort to make living downtown even more attractive to buyers and eventually boost London’s economy. By eliminating these costs, developers can use the extra cash to fund programs that will assist construction. These costs include loans for facade and building code improvements. Rather than spreading the city out as we’ve seen in the past, the next decade or so will see progress in filling in some of those wide open parking lots throughout the city centre. It’s not a secret that there’s no shortage of plans to build high-rises in and around the centre of London. These plans are in different stages of development; some are still waiting approval and others are almost complete. There was a pretty big wave of development for the area in recent years, with the completion of the Renaissance Towers. The Renaissance Towers were no doubt the high-rises that started the wave of expansion. These luxury towers, which are the fourth tallest buildings in London, were so successful that their creation sparked a special interest in implementing more luxurious high-rise condo living to the downtown core. Azure is an upscale apartment building 29 storeys high with 200 units built by Tricar at 505 Talbot Street. It is just about complete, with finishing touches currently underway. This tower exemplifies progress in residential development for London as it’s made its mark as the city’s second highest building behind One London Place; which is the tallest office building in Ontario outside of Ottawa and Toronto. Move-in dates for Azure luxury tower aren’t set in stone, but estimates are saying June or July. Waves of development come and go, with a concentrated time period of construction followed by a lull. While there’s plenty of buzz about high-rise implementation to the city, there are some setbacks involved The London Free Press has been updating its readers with the development plans for the downtown high-rises. In these articles, city planner John Flemming has said, “The nature of my business as a planner is to keep an eye on the long game. We are improving, the market is interested in downtown. We will not see all these towers at once, but in staggered development.” While optimism is high for the city, the incentives for builders to apply for building permits have come to an unfortunate halt. The previously mentioned lift on specific building permits was revoked as of January 2018. Those builders who did not apply for a permit before the end of 2017 will now have to pay the charges up front. These can reach up to $4M and builders who don’t have the funds have to put building plans on hold. While this seems like an inconvenience to many, the change in permit charges from the city doesn’t come without compromises. The city promises to pay the full amount back to builders in smaller increments during the next decade but demand the cash up front to cover costs. All this will do for builders with deep pockets is make them think longer and harder about their investment, but this will no doubt eliminate the builders with less experience and capitol. The London Free Press released an update on the potential high rises in the downtown core and their current statuses as of late January of this year. You can check out the full article here but here are the simple stats provided: Recently Completed: Azure (Tricar Group) – 505 Talbot Street, 29-storey, 200-unit luxury condo tower.
Building Permits Applied For: 40 York Street (Tricar Group) – 24-storey, 245-units 515 Richmond Street (Old Oak) – 171-units 100 Fullarton Street, 475-501 Talbot Street and 93-95 Dufferin Avenue (Rygar Properties) – multi-tower development In Doubt: 150 Dundas Street (Atlantis Realty) – 27-storey, 200 unit apartment building 455 Clarence Street (George Anastasiadis) – 32-storey, 182-unit residential tower has already been approved by the city Planned: 195 Dundas Street (Ayerswood) – three-tower development with 700-units 661-667 Talbot Street (Drewlo Holdings) – 16-storey, 236-unit residential tower 131 King Street (York Developments) – 31-storey, 220-unit high-rise 183 King Street (Southside Group) – 25-storey, 200-unit residential high-rise 50 King Street (Middlesex County) – 30-storey, 200-unit residential high-rise and commercial space 560-562 Wellington Street (Auburn Developments) – 22-storey residential tower As you can see from the amount of high-rises completed verses the ones planned, progress has come to a halt. Only the builders who applied for permits by December of 2017 have been approved and even those who have been approved have some doubts. Builders are eager to get their properties off the ground, but know it will be a struggle to complete it. The lift of permit charges was a massive help and a huge incentive. Those who pay the upfront prices must be assured they can carry through the project to the end, and that’s not always a guarantee. Builders such as Atlantis Realty are seeing this as a loss. They say plans to build their 27-storey condominiums likely won’t become a reality. The fee to pay the permit up front just isn’t feasible for the Toronto based developers. London native George Ansistasiadis was quoted in the London Free Press saying that, “it definitely does not help. It is extra money you have to put out and they will give it back in bits and pieces”.
While there will be some hiccups along the way, there is an undeniable movement to change the London skyline. London was once a city that kept expanding outwards. The skyline has certainly been built up, but not in the dramatic sense other cities have seen and the future of London will see it growing upwards. The demand for luxury living in downtown is homage to the type of city it’s turning into – a city that thrives off its people. The Forest City will welcome residents from afar, especially those from the GTA, making the move to these new housing developments. The implementation of thousands more residents to the downtown core will no doubt garner economic and cultural success for the city but while obtaining the approval to build is one thing, actually seeing the project through is a whole other story. We would love to hear your opinion. What do you think about the plans for high-rises in the Downtown Core? Should London keep expanding outwards or start growing upwards? Let us know on any of our social media accounts linked below and stay tuned for more comprehensive articles about your Forest City!
Food trends come and go, but there are those that are tried and true. The art of charcuterie seems to have kept its momentum rolling with even more demand for it in today’s culinary world. This form of food can be served at a dinner party as an appetiser, or act as the star of the show as the main course. Charcuterie is ideal to pair with a pint of cold draft beer or a flight of wine tasters. Hey, it’s so versatile it can even teeter between savoury and sweet and act as a dessert tray at the end of a light meal. From a wide array of spiced and cured meats and aged cheeses to delicious fruits and sweet jams and chocolates, charcuterie is fully accessible all across our Forest City. There’s even a spot you can go to order vegan boards, which is always a win-win for us. Each restaurant adds their panache to the classic trend that is charcuterie. Read on to find out about the sweetest spots around the city for the most mouth-watering, flavourful and unique offerings.
We couldn’t make a charcuterie list without an honourable mention to the one and only 10Eighteen Coffee Bar. While the primary focus for this cafe is coffee, the food is next level. They source their ingredients from local artisan bakeries and shops. In addition to this, they commit to catering to any dietary needs. Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarians can feel entirely welcome in this comfortable and cute cafe. The selection of charcuterie here is pretty vast. They offer boards of meat and cheese, cheese only, kids size boards and they even have a vegan option, which features dairy-free, nut-based cheeses! They’ve made it a mission to source local ingredients and the quality is evident in the flavour. Not to mention the way they are serving up these boards is so aesthetically pleasing it’ll be hard not to take a picture. One thing to note about 10Eighteen is that they are not your run of the mill cafe. This is evident in the fact that they serve sensational charcuterie, but also due to their liquor license! That’s right; this coffee shop has a liquor licence. This is perfect for those who want to elevate their charcuterie to the next level by pairing it with an ice-cold draft beer or a refreshing glass of wine at the end of a workday. As a menu item that a patron would typically visit a nice restaurant for, charcuterie and liquor has become accessible in a relaxed atmosphere such as a coffee shop. That’s a win-win for us! Visit 10Eighteen today for a wide array of charcuterie, and you’ll undoubtedly leave already craving more.
Milo’s joined London’s pub scene about five years ago and has no doubt made a name for themselves since. The location on Talbot Street just north of Dundas Street makes for a premier destination to those attending a game or event at Budweiser Gardens. The Craft Beer Emporium is committed to sourcing local ingredients, and the result is a menu that boasts a modern flair on traditional pub grub. The focus at Milo’s, however, is their beer tap selection. They put an emphasis on craft beer, and have been supporting local breweries ever since their opening. With a variety of over twenty-three taps, there ought to be a beer for everyone who walks in the door! What pairs great with an ice-cold draft beer? Charcuterie of course! Aside from their insane beer selection, Milo’s has become known for their scrumptious Canadian Cheese Board, Ontario Charcuterie and house-made natural pickles. Combine these with the perfect pairing of beer, and you’ve got yourself an ideal pre-game snack! The large board is complete with a selection of cured meats such as salami and prosciutto, an assortment of Canadian cheese, some fruit, nuts and toasted bread. This board is perfect for sharing as an appetizer or a main, and there will always be that ideal craft-brew to complement the ever-changing selection of locally sourced and gourmet meats and cheeses.
It wouldn’t be a Forest City charcuterie list without the Wolfe of Wortley. Since it’s opening in 2016, this eatery has become a nationally renowned and locally celebrated spot. It earned itself a place on Air Canada’s list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants. If that’s not enough to take a trip to Wortley Village, then I’m not sure what is! Owned by brothers, Justin and Gregg Wolfe, this is not their first or their last restaurant venture. The brothers began with the Early Bird downtown before opening Wolfe of Wall Street. Their latest venture is the highly anticipated and positively reviewed Mexican inspired restaurant, Los Lobos. So let’s talk charcuterie! The reason they landed themselves on this list is their dedication to fantastic charcuterie in many varietals. They cure all of their meats in-house and are dedicated to serving the most delicious and fresh ingredients. The menu is always evolving with the season, but patrons can always count on the eatery to offer a broad charcuterie selection. From mustards and pickles to go with the meat and select cheeses to devilled eggs and tuna tartare – this charcuterie is basic at its core yet sophisticated in flavour and presentation.
Craft Farmacy is the new-kid-on-the-block but that doesn’t mean it isn’t receiving acclaim from the London locals. As a farm-to-table eatery located on Wharncliffe Road, patrons can find an array of traditional ingredients in a creative and elevated form. From duck poutine, lamb burgers and mushroom polenta to a vast selection of oyster varietals, Craft Farmacy is fresh, delicious and unique in its food pairings. They are dedicated to sourcing local ingredients and that fact alone is impressive to us. Along with their other great menu items, their charcuterie board is amazing. It is the perfect size for sharing while enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail, glass of wine or craft brew. The board itself offers a selection of salami, spreads, pickled fruits, crackers, toasted bread and various meats. It is presented beautifully and makes for an excellent start to any meal! In the mood for charcuterie as your main course? Go ahead as this will surely leave you feeling full and satisfied. Craft Farmacy puts an emphasis on sourcing local ingredients, hence the name “Craft Farmacy.” As this is a growing trend, especially in London, we have absolutely no doubt that Craft Farmacy will continue to expand its horizons and churn out delicious and creative meals. This is the perfect eatery to head to for some dishes that you may have not previously tried and classics that you know you’ll love – like their fantastic charcuterie!
The mission for the London Wine Bar is to offer a refined and elegant, yet quaint and cosy spot that is reminiscent of a traditional European Wine Bar. With two locations, one on Talbot next to Milo’s and the other in Wortley Village, it’s safe to say that London has welcomed this establishment with open arms. Both locations don a welcoming atmosphere that is sophisticated in design yet cosy and charming. Wine Bar is perfect for a glass of wine after a long workweek, an intimate date night or a girls night out! As obvious as it may seem, the sole focus of these establishments is to drink and experience quality wine in an approachable manner. Wine novices and connoisseurs alike can visit the Wine Bar and come out of it learning something new each time. While wine is the focal point for London Wine Bar, charcuterie comes a very close second (if not tied). The food menu is less extensive than that of a traditional restaurant. What they lose in menu variety, they gain in quality and pairing. From meticulously picking and choosing an assortment of cured meats, to fruits, pickled items, fresh bread and locally made jams, the charcuterie they are serving up is a must-try. The downtown location focuses on charcuterie and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. The Wortley location offers the same traditional artisan boards but expands their menu to appetisers and entrees such as panko-crusted brie, beef carpaccio and coffee hazelnut crusted Ontario lamb. Whether you’re looking for simple meat and cheese board to pair with your wine (Talbot Street), or an insatiably delicious meal (Wortley Village), check out London Wine Bar and you won’t be disappointed.
When you think of locally owned, reliable and delicious restaurants there’s no doubt that Garlic’s of London will be on the top of that list for many. Located on the famous Richmond Row, Garlic’s has been impressing patrons for over twenty years. The intimate atmosphere mixed with a menu that boasts a wide selection, it comes as no surprise that Garlic’s has stayed on the London restaurant scene for so long. Unique appetisers such as spiced chickpea fritters and slowly roasted garlic bulbs to a selection of pasta, pizza, salads and classic mains are reminiscent of many brasseries out there. The apparent difference between Garlic’s of London and other higher-end restaurants is the use of garlic in most of their dishes. Garlic is the sole focus of this restaurant, and their charcuterie board is no exception! The charcuterie option is dubbed the “Garlic’s Artisan Board”. It boasts your typical charcuterie such as house-cured boar bacon, dried chorizo, local and imported cheese, pickles, house smoked trout, prosciutto and roasted nuts. What elevates this appetiser (or main course if you so decide) is their house made garlic mustard and chutney. These sauces are just packed with flavour, perfectly complementing every bite on the board. There’s no doubt that the garlic in these sauces is the ingredient that brings this charcuterie board to the next level. If you’re a fan of garlic and charcuterie (who isn’t?), then this establishment must be on your list of restaurants to visit in Downtown, London!
The Church Key has become a London favourite. It is a pub with a sophisticated edge. Residing in an old Heritage Building complete with a beautifully decorated courtyard, the Church Key does not lack aesthetic or atmosphere. This bistro is serving up Sunday brunch, appetisers, lunch, dinner and even offers both extensive vegetarian and gluten-free menus. Their versatility and consideration for dietary choices and requirements are exceptional. With dishes such as ale and onion soup, fish and chips, beef pot roast and bacon steak mac and cheese – this bistro gives off sophisticated English pub vibes. And they’re certainly winning at it. The Ploughman’s Plate is their take on charcuterie and is in the entree section of the menu. While it is offered as an entree, it’s an excellent option as a shareable appetiser. The sophisticated English pub feel stays consistent with this board. It is complete with English cheeses, crusty bread, paté, smoked salmon rillette, duck bacon, Branston pickle, pickled quail eggs and vegetables. This board is one of the most extensive and unique charcuteries we’ve seen thus far! It has received rave reviews from those who have been lucky enough to taste it; the Church Key has even become known for their aptly named charcuterie. Fun fact, a Ploughman’s Lunch is a traditional English cold meal that focuses on bread, cheese and onions! Next time you’re in the mood for an indulgent meal that will surely satisfy your taste buds, head to Church Key and take in their cosy and welcoming atmosphere.
Do It Yourself!
While going out for charcuterie is always a good idea, so is making your own! Thankfully for us Londoners, there are plenty of bakeries and butcheries that can supply you with the goods to make a charcuterie board like a pro! Here’s a list of our top recommendations if you’re on the hunt for quality ingredients. A visit to these shops will ensure that your guests will be impressed by the flavour and won’t believe you did it yourself.
Western Fair Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market (Every Saturday 8am-3pm):
London, Ontario’s traffic and transit systems have been a topic of conversation for a long while. London is infamous for being home to “the worst drivers” and an inefficient public transit system. As the years have progressed, the existing issues with London’s traffic haven’t seen much improvement. Instead, London has continued to expand in many ways, and with that expansion comes heightened congestion on the roads. London is the most extensive urban area in Canada without a rapid transit system. The absence of rapid transport makes the commute to and from school and work longer and more drawn out, and there doesn’t seem to be a solution in sight. A future transit system has become inevitable for London, as it has seen an immense amount of growth in recent years. While a shift in transit is unavoidable, the city has seen plenty of controversy surrounding what type of transportation would be accomplished. There were two transit systems suggested for implementation in the coming years. These included a Light Rail System and a Bus Rapid Transit system. The city of London saw the advantages in both and actually endorsed plans for a hybrid of the two. The estimated cost for this hybrid light rail/bus rapid transit system was a colossal $800M. The Light Rail option seemed to be a no-brainer to many, while others advocated for Bus Rapid Transit only and the city took all options into consideration before coming to a final decision. Ultimately, the city unveiled plans to implement a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the next decade. BRT is a controversial topic amongst many Londoners, and there are benefits and disadvantages to this implementation – as would be expected for any significant change to a growing city such as London. Read on as we explore the technical specifications, controversies, misconceptions and future plans for the Bus Rapid Transit system in London, Ontario.
Bus Rapid Transit
What is Bus Rapid Transit? BRT is a bus-based transit system which is designed to boost reliability and efficacy of existing systems. The new system will replace existing lanes, which carry both regular vehicles and public transport with ones strictly for the BRT. This system will diminish the number of lanes for daily traffic and simultaneously ease up the traffic’s current stop-and-go motion behind busses.
The route of the BRT is quite simple and hits the most significant arteries of the city. It will have two rough courses, north to south and east to west. North to south would run from Masonville on Richmond Street and down Western Road through Western University, then back to Richmond Street. It will continue south downtown and jog down to Wellington Road and proceed to Whiteoaks Mall. The east to west route begins at Wonderland Road and Oxford Street West. The bus continues east on Oxford Street to Wharncliffe Road. From there it will jog south down Wharncliffe Road to Riverside Drive. From there it will keep east on King Street downtown, ending up on Dundas at the Western Fair. It will continue to Highbury then travel slightly north back to Oxford Street then continues to Fanshawe College.
Specifics of the System
Busses will be specialized which will run in dedicated lanes along the city streets with priority signals at intersections. BRT bus stops will be roughly four or five blocks apart and wait times between buses will range between five and ten minutes. There is hope that development clusters will grow around these BRT bus stops in residential areas. In the downtown area, there is hope that commercial development clusters will increase around these stops, thus boosting London’s economy and making it easier for non-drivers to get around the city. The hope with the new system is to not only provide non-drivers with access to the city at large but also pull locals out of their cars and onto the bus. A unique feature of the BRT that will come in handy for many is its plans for extensions out to Exeter Road and the London airport. The former will help those commuting from outside of London by allowing them to leave their cars in a designated parking lot by the Bus Rapid Transit stop. From there they can hop on the BRT. This will enable commuters to arrive at their destination faster and without the stop and go frustration of rush hour in the city.
What People are Saying
From protests to common misconceptions, it comes as no surprise that some locals aren’t too happy about the bus rapid transit. A major change that has an impact on current conditions, and costs the government millions of dollars is bound to stir up some controversy amongst locals. Luckily CBC news addressed these misconceptions, allowing some locals to feel at ease about the implementation. These misconceptions include that all the details are set in stone, the rapid busses won’t even be much faster than the existing bus routes, and trains throughout the city will impede this new system from running as efficiently as it should. While the general details for the BRT were disclosed to the public, the notion that all plans are final is definitely a misconception. There are some features such as the general design for north-south, east-west routes, which are final. However, the details of these routes such as: how the roads will widen, how the other bus routes will be implemented to the BRT, and whether or not the BRT lanes will be located on the side of the road or down the middle. When all extensive studies have wrapped up, and feedback from the city has been taken into consideration, the BRT plans will be finalised. As far as saving time, a mere four-minutes will be brushed off these city routes. However, the implementation of more bus stops between routes will allow a quicker trip to the stop, thus saving time. Actual-time digital information at bus stops will allow riders to wait for less time at the stop, always knowing when exactly the bus is arriving. In addition to this, the new system will allow for transfers to happen more efficiently. While the train impedes all traffic going through downtown, London, it only occurs a few times a day. The time that travellers will lose waiting at the train stop will be made up for in the rapid transit on either end of the train tracks. Anti-BRT groups have been quite vocal about their dismay with the impending future of London’s transit. This is due to the simple fact that many businesses on the route anticipate losing traffic and foresee no choice but to relocate their business. In addition to this, many locals are displeased with the number of trees, which will be eradicated. “Up Shifts Creek” is an anti-BRT group that put caution tape upon many of the trees in some areas of the BRT route. This displayed roughly how many will be lost with this new transit system. Living in town called the Forest City, losing trees is bound to stir up controversy amongst locals.
How Much is it Going to Cost
So let’s talk budget. A massive transit shift like this is bound to cost the government a pretty penny. When it’s all said and done, the cost of the BRT is supposed to be around $500M. While this is not a low-cost implementation, it seems to be a necessary one for the way London is developing. The city has committed to $130M while the province has agreed to $170M. It was announced quite recently that London would receive a decent share of the $33 billion in federal infrastructure funding across the country. The federal government has allotted $200M of that $33B to London’s transit shift. This portion will provide the city with enough funding to begin developing and planning. $500m is undeniably costly. However, the city was teetering between implementing a light rail/bus hybrid system and the BRT. Ultimately, the $500m price tag of BRT is meek compared to the possible $800m the city would have had to round up to achieve the suggested hybrid system.
How Long It’s Going To Take
Talk about a new transit system began in 2015. In the fall of 2017, necessary pre-planning began for the BRT. This preparation is coined as the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) and includes detailed investigation as well as preliminary engineering design. Early 2018 saw the start of the six months long TPAP process. This process includes many different practices such as tree protection plans, environmental and cultural monitoring plans, travel demand, parking and access plans and final cost estimates. In addition to this, formal public engagement with residents, businesses, Indigenous communities (or First Nations), Metis, review agencies, and other stakeholders will also take place. Detailed design and construction are slated to start in 2019. Between the years 2020 and 2028 the Bus Rapid Transit will be up and running for riders. While this may seem like a very long time, this implementation is a major change for the city. It includes widening some roads. Wharncliffe Road has already undergone significant widening, as the city anticipates heightened traffic with the implementation of BRT on Richmond Street.
With a change as significant as this for the city of London, it comes as no surprise that there are those who disagree. Implementation in any urban area likely hasn’t gone without protest. Bus Rapid Transit is a reflection that London is expanding, growing, and becoming a city that can’t handle its existing transit. There is hope that this implementation will boost London’s economy by providing jobs and opportunity for commercial development clusters. The goal of Bus Rapid Transit is to make London more accessible to everyone. Once the implementation is complete, there is no doubt that it will improve the efficacy of our existing bus system and allow non-drivers and commuters alike to reach their destination with greater ease. What are your thoughts on Bus Rapid Transit? We’d love to hear all thoughts and opinions surrounding this controversial, yet inevitable shift for the city. Would you have preferred a bus-rail hybrid system? Get in on the conversation and tell us what you think!