London city council briefs: ‘Superb’ Homecoming; bike lanes; spiked letter

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News and notes from Tuesday’s city council meeting:

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Mayor Ed Holder declared last weekend’s homecoming celebrations near Western University “a superb event” at the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, expressing thanks to city staff, university administration and emergency crews who managed the street parties. Police were forced to shut down a stretch of Richmond Street early Sunday morning due to throngs of partiers, and a long list of charges was announced Tuesday afternoon. Police Chief Steve Williams said there were beer cans thrown at police officers and students jumping from rooftops and utility polls.

Bike lanes raise concerns

Future bike lanes on Windermere Road caused a flare up at Tuesday’s council meeting as Ward 1 Coun. Michael van Holst questioned whether cyclists could instead ride on the sidewalk, if city hall were to review its bylaws. Other councillors shot down the idea, with Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis speaking  passionately about the need to continue building protected cycling lanes in London. “We have to do better on how we implement (bike lanes), but that does not mean there not of value,” he said after speaking about the challenges constructing bike lanes in his ward on Brydges and Wavell streets.

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Council critic’s letter refused

City council took the unusual step of voting not to receive a letter from a constituent on Tuesday, with politicians claiming it crossed the line into personal attacks. AnnaMaria Valastro, a frequent city hall critic who often shows up at public meetings to speak to politicians, wrote to council about an erosion control plan and referred to an earlier debate on the matter as “uneducated.” She took particular aim at Coun. Michael van Holst. Council voted 11-3 not to receive her letter. Councillors Jesse Helmer, Anna Hopkins and Josh Morgan voted against the motion and Coun. Mo Salih was absent. All others were in favour of breaking with tradition and refusing to even acknowledge receipt of Valastro’s letter.

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