David Rosen is Writing All About It: Hot topics as Prentice visits London

David Eaves’ “Halcyon Days” wrote of London 20 years ago: “It was a wasteland and a haven of lies.” How does “Rezoning London” — a sequel of sorts in which local politicians in Victoria…

David Rosen is Writing All About It: Hot topics as Prentice visits London

David Eaves’ “Halcyon Days” wrote of London 20 years ago: “It was a wasteland and a haven of lies.” How does “Rezoning London” — a sequel of sorts in which local politicians in Victoria take up the challenge of launching a “new London,” a hi-tech city that could become a world-leader in “innovation” — look today? Bruce Arthur charts the decimation of modest working-class neighbourhoods to preserve foreign-investor complexes and gated communities (one of which, the “Discovery Fund Forest,” includes an indoor pool, volleyball courts, basketball courts, a decked-out “rock climbing wall” and a fully equipped gym), turn green space into showcase developments, and disperse high-income earners and investors.

“Privilege often comes with public debt, and #SothebysProd seriously undermined the credibility of this agreement with a ‘seven-day acquisition’ that was fully due for expiration after 10 years. #SothebysProd is the new meaning of ‘Sotheby’. The city and its residents have been hoodwinked, lied to, charmed and fooled all over again,” columnist Dave Deibert wrote.

Dr. Kieran Moore, a city councillor and environmental economist, writes about the other side of the “two-track economy,” where “right” jobs are not being done well and people are being left behind.

Nevertheless, Moore sounds like a man boxed in, trapped between two choices.

“The solutions are not going to come from the city as a whole. Many parts of the city have struggled for decades to change from a manufacturing to an information economy,” he writes.

In other words, he is struggling to admit that the city has a problem while trying to insulate himself against what city officials may or may not do to address it.

But it may not be that simple. If it were, Prentice would still be leader.

James Main, Canada’s ambassador to Great Britain, came here for a think tank conference, not for the chance to punch the mayor.

“The problem here is that there’s a lack of data, so nobody’s going to be making any decisions,” said Main, whose visit was arranged by someone who knew of his long-standing work on trade liberalization between Britain and Canada.

“My sense is that people here are wrestling with the impact on the jobs that are already here in London,” he continued. “The issue isn’t that the airport is in town — the issues is how do we best do things that bring value to a globalized world? And it’s very hard.”

He argued that Canada, especially, needed to accelerate its internal markets for agriculture, pharmaceuticals and other services that are a globalized reality and don’t need investment in building capital to support them.

“It’s not about whether you go out, it’s just where do you go?” Main said, rhetorically. “I’ve met with a number of senior executives who are interested in what I’m saying. If we’re to have a serious conversation about how we can better structure and integrate those markets, we need to do it here. And I think that’s what lots of people around town want to know: what are you going to do about it?”

(More on David Rees’s visit here and Marty Meehan’s take here.)

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