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Helena Kim, in the role of "Chef" leads her cast mates in the song "Les Poissons during rehearsals for Oakridge Secondary School's upcoming production, The Little Mermaid Jr.
Santa Claus is coming to town - twice?
The end of November can be one of the dullest and darkest times of the year. The days are short, the nights long and most think it’s still just a bit to early to for Christmas chatter. But don’t delay your holiday planning for too long. We spoke to catering expert Tami Collins from Steel Grill about why getting a head start on your holiday planning can help keep your festivities stress-free and focused on what’s really important: family and friends. From what to consider when putting together
■ THIS ISSUE
see THEATRE I Page 4
and gives local families a fun alternative to the downtown spectacle. We caught up with organizers to talk about the parade’s past, it’s future and what people can expect this Saturday. This edition of LFP Neighbours also features information on two local high school productions: Blood Brothers, put on by the students at St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Little Mermaid Jr., produced by students at Oakridge. Both sets of students have been pouring their blood, sweat and tears into their respective performances and promise to deliver an evening of fun entertainment for the whole family. To ﬁnd out more about the plays and how you can get tickets, check out Page 4. As always, our goal each week with LFP Neighbours is to keep our readers connected to the community that matters to them. From local news stories, to features on new businesses and neighbours who are making a difference in the community, we strive to keep readers engaged. To do this we need your help. Planning a local event? Have a neat story idea? Or know somebody who deserves recognition? Reach out. Send us an email at email@example.com
a holiday menu to how to stay calm when entertaining dozens of guests, let Collins be your go-to guru for getting through the Christmas season. She shares her holiday hosting tips
with readers on Page 6. There’s nothing like a little controversy to get people talking, and who would’ve thought a community Santa Claus parade would cause such a seasonal squabble. The Hyde Park Santa Claus parade has been around for ﬁve years, but has faced repeated backlash from organizers from the City of London parade who say there just isn’t room in the city for two Santa Clause parades. Hyde Park thinks otherwise. The parade is ballooning in popularity
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BRENT BOLES Neighbours
Having spent three and a half decades in the carpet and ﬂooring business, Jim Deacon doesn’t stay in it because it’s easy. “It’s not a fun business. It’s very difficult. But when you’ve got good staff you try to have fun,” he said. “It’s what I want to do.” Deacon, owner of Deacon Flooring on Hyde Park, sticks to the business side of things but can point out dedicated colleagues who have spent their lives ripping up carpet and installing ﬂooring while sacriﬁcing their bodies in the process. He tried doing the instillations once when he was young but found himself in a sticky situation – he said he ended the day covered in glue and learned his lesson. Coming out of high school, Deacon knew that despite having the grades, he wasn’t interested in going to university. “There were unspoken words of I’m not doing that,” he recalls of conversations with his father. So instead he marched to a store in Argyle mall and asked for a job. As luck would have it, they were in need of a carpet salesmen and Deacon ﬁlled the spot. He honed his craft at other local suppliers and later as a manufacturer road representative before opening his own shop in February 2000. “The ﬁrst year, our sales were $300,000,” he said, adding that they’ve since grown to in excess of $2.3 million. He credits his success to some simple advice his father once gave him. “He said, ‘don’t do anything less in your client’s home than you would want in your own.’” And if he does make a mistake? “If I mess up, I’ll ﬁx it.” Deacon said the ﬂooring industry is a competitive one where it can be difficult to balance the customer’s needs and budget. But despite the challenges, he’s enjoyed the industry enough to make it a career and doesn’t hesitate to point out his favourite parts. “It’s actually two pronged: the staff relationships that you cultivate and cherish . . . and the customer relationships that you build,” he said. He’s also built a relationship with the community, sponsoring soccer and hockey teams and donating to schools. “I’m happy to do that. I love doing that, man,” he said. “London West has been wonderful to Deacon Flooring.” Outside of work he cherishes family relationships. His 15-year-old son has been the voice of Deacon’s radio presence since he was a baby. “James has done my commercials since he was one year old, saying ‘da-da.’” Though he loves the job, he said one of the most challenging aspects comes when he has to collect from people who can’t afford to pay their bills. “I get gooned a lot because I’m too nice, but my clients are important to me,” he said. Despite having proven his ability to grow the business, Deacon has a unique business plan going forward. “No growth. Protect and keep what you have,” he said. “You have to, nowadays, keep your eye on the plate . . . If you want to grow, don’t forget what got you there.”
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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2013 • NEIGHBOURS 3
Parade keeps growing
Jolly Old St. Nick sits inside a chimney during last year’s Hyde Park Santa Claus Parade. Organizers estimate 6,000 people came out to the parade in 2012 and expect this year’s crowd to be even larger.
IF YOU GO
What: The Hyde Park Santa Claus Parade When: Saturday, Nov. 30, 10:00 a.m. Where: Parade begins at Sherwood Forest Mall, heads down Gainsborough Rd., and ends at the Sun Media building just west of Hyde Park Rd.
■ COLLABORATION: Lions Club joins forces with Nor’West London Optimist Club for Hyde Park Santa Claus parade
If you happen to catch a glimpse of a white haired elderly gentleman dressed in cherry red this weekend, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Jolly ol' St. Nick will be cruising through Hyde Park Saturday morning as the guest of honour at the ﬁfth annual Hyde Park Santa Claus Parade. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at the Sherwood Forest Mall and will head up Gainsborough Rd., ending just west of Hyde Park Rd. at the Sun Media building. This year’s parade is expected to draw large crowds says Lisa Topp, one of the parade organizers. “We really pushed our Twitter and Facebook this year,” she said. What began as a simple Christmas parade hosted by the Hyde Park Lions Club ﬁve years ago has morphed into a full-ﬂedged community affair. The Lions Club joined forces with the Nor’West London Optimist Club and created the Hyde Park Santa Claus parade. The two organizations decided to team up because they felt the growing community needed an event to tie it together. Thousands of people have moved into Hyde Park over the past few years as the barren farmland that once lined the road has been transformed into subdivisions. “Over the last three years we’ve really increased the number of people in the parade, volunteers and the crowd,” Topp said. Last year, she estimates that 6,000 people came out to watch. But the wholesome community parade has not escaped controversy. There are those who feel the parade should not compete with the official London Santa Claus Parade, which takes place each year downtown. “I personally don’t believe there’s room for two Santa Clause parades in this city,” Shaun Merton co-chair of the London Santa Claus Parade told The London Free Press last year. “It causes a lot of grief.” Topp admits the Hyde Park parade has taken its share of hits over the past ﬁve years, but that the criticism has only inspired organizers to work harder and has shone a greater spotlight at the event. “It still comes up, but we pride ourselves on being a community parade, not a city parade,” she said. “Thanks to the city of London for doing some free advertising for us.” In addition to providing families with a morning of holiday fun, the parade is also a vehicle for people to give back to their community. This year, the Nor’West London Optimist club will be collecting “active toys” to use for its programs. These are items like soccer balls and tennis rackets that can be used for active sports and games. Non-active toy donations will be donated to the London Resource Centre. The parade also features a food drive for the London Food Bank. The Hyde Park Business Association will also be collecting boots to be donated to the Mission Store.
ABOVE TOP: Volunteers depart from Sherwood Forest mall during last year’s Hyde Park Santa Clause Parade. Rosie Delfre, Hyde Park Lions Club secretary, clutches a stuffed lion at the 2012 Hyde Park Santa Claus parade.
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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2013 • NEIGHBOURS
Students hit the stage
Looking for a fun way to keep your family entertained?
Why not check out some of the upcoming local secondary school productions. The students at St. Thomas Aquinas and Oakridge secondary schools have been rehearsing all fall for their upcoming plays. Both are almost entirely run by students and the content is appropriate for families. LFP Neighbours caught up with the production teams from both school’s to ﬁnd out what people can expect from the performances this fall.
■ THEATRE: High school students took lead role in upcoming productions
-30 Nov. 27 inas When: as Aqu . Thom xford St. W t S : e r Whe 60 O ium, 13 auditor icket r 15 pe t 0-2798 Cost: $ 519-66 : e c ffi Box O
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When: Dec 4-7 Where: Oakridge second ary school auditorium, 1040 Oxford St. W Cost: $15 Box Office: www.onstagedirect.com
Tristan Cotter, Ben McVit tie and Abi Kirton rehear se for the Little Mermaid Jr at Oakridge secondary sch ool.
Lee rehearse for Jake Schindler and Matt . on cti du pro Blood Brothers
Based on the 1844 novella, The Corsican Brothers, by Alexandre Dumas, set in London, England, Blood Brothers is the tale of two twins separated at birth that grow up on opposite ends of the social spectrum. One becomes a wealthy councilor, the other ﬁnds himself unemployed and in prison. While the play sounds dark, student producers Kabeer Garba, Gr. 12, and Benett Chenery, Gr. 11, insist it has its lighter moments. “I’d call it a dramedy – it’s funny at the start but less and less so as the play goes on,” said Garba. The production is totally run by the students, though staff members are responsible for supervision and selecting the play.
The tech theatre class runs the lights and sound and the cast in entirely made up of students. One of the biggest challenges the play posed for the young actors? Mastering the famous Liverpool accent. “We all had to learn Liverpool accents,” Chenery said. “It was easier for some but hard for others. I didn’t struggle, but I know a lot of people who did.” Gr. 12 student Matt Lee landed his ﬁrst lead role in this year’s production. He’s playing Edward, the twin who winds up wealthy. “I was ecstatic over the past few years I only got minor roles. This is a completely new experience for me,” he said. “It comes with such an adrenaline rush.”
Turning this beloved Disney ﬁlm into a full-ﬂedge on-stage production has meant a busy semester for Oakridge’s musical theatre class. Students have been rehearsing every afternoon since September. After putting on Rent in 2011, Oakridge wanted to produce a more family-oriented play that would appeal to elementary-aged students. “We wanted something a little lighter this year,” said Todd Lafraniere, the music teacher at Oakridge and the play’s producer. “This is geared towards a younger audience.” The play follows the same storyline as the Disney hit. A young mermaid with a beautiful singing voice swaps her vocal chords and mermaid ﬁn for a set of legs after catching a glimpse of a handsome young prince.
Megan Macpherson landed the role of Flounder, Ariel’s trusty ﬁsh sidekick. She was delighted when she found out last spring that Oakridge would be performing the Little Mermaid and is thrilled to be a part of the production. “It’s high school students bringing to life one of the most beloved Disney ﬁlms of all time,” she said. “There’s something for everyone. It’s really a family show.” While staff members oversee the production, Oakridge students run just about everything. The musical theatre class act, sing and dance in the play. The tech class will be controlling the lighting and the sounds. And the sports and event marketing class is reaching out to advertisers for the play’s program and collecting sponsors. “The community is just fantastic,” Lafraniere said.
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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2013 • NEIGHBOURS 5
Quarterback Matt DeCicco stands beside St. Thomas Aquinas head football coach Peter Legge in an empty locker room after the season ended in a 13-7 loss to Catholic Central.
Season cut short, but
athlete of the week
He's just a smart, athletic football player. There was no question he was the guy."
Peter Legge, ~ St. Thomas Aquinas head coach
■ FOOTBALL: Flames already looking to next season after heartbreaking loss in London District division championship
BRENT BOLES Neighbours
When the Saint Thomas Aquinas football season came to an end on a cold and windy November night, the squad had fallen short of its own lofty objectives. “The goal every year is to win the city championship,” said head coach Peter Legge. That dream was extinguished when the Catholic Central Crusaders beat the Flames 13-7 during the London District division championship on Nov. 13.“They were very physical and big and had an excellent running game and we came up a bit short,” Legge said of a Crusaders team that rolled into the ﬁnal averaging more than 40 points a game. Despite falling short of the city crown, by almost any other standards the Flames should be celebrating a successful season. The squad ﬁnished 4-1 on the year with a high-powered offence that ﬁnished second in the league in scoring. Their defence helped the squad put up double-digit victories in every win. All this came after losing key players to graduation last year. The 2012 team won the city championship behind quarterback and former TVRA outstanding player Jesse McNair, who now dons the purple and white for the Mustangs. Players credit the smooth transition to the help they got on the sidelines. “We have great coaches at the school so they really knew what they were talking about. So it was mostly them. The players just listen to them. We get the fundamentals
AGE: 18 GRaD ICCO E: THIRTEEN ST. THOMAS AQ UINAS HIGH SC HOOL SPORT: FOOTA LL POSITION: Q U A RTERBACK HEIGHT: 6'1" WEIGHT: 200 LBS
down and just go on from there,” said current quarterback Matt DeCicco. The team will have to adjust again next year as more veterans hang up their helmets. “We’re going to lose most of our leadership class but that happens every year,” said Legge. Besides DeCicco himself, that also includes leading receiver Hunter Tilden and linemen Jake Helm.“He’s probably the best lineman in the city so he’s a big help up front,” said DeCicco. With the sting of defeat still fresh, Legge eagerly has his sights set on next year. “I think there’s no doubt about it – we have to get in the gym, we have to get stronger and that’s going to be a big priority for us,” he said. “We’re deﬁnitely going to be a team that’s going to be working very hard in the off season in the weight room. ”
About Matt: When head coach Peter Legge is asked to point out the difference maker for his squad, he doesn’t hesitate in pointing to Matt DeCicco. “I think he threw almost 40 touchdown passes, ran a bunch more. We put him on defense for basically one game, he led us in tackles, caused two fumbles and had an interception. He’s the guy,” said Legge. DeCicco performed like a polished veteran even though he didn’t exactly have much experience to draw on. He was a wide receiver last year and just started playing quarterback this fall. “We all kicked ourselves. By the time we were a game or two in we were thinking geez, we should have done this last year,” said Legge. “He’s just a smart, athletic football player. There was no question he was the guy.”
DeCicco said his background catching passes made the transition to throwing them a little easier. “I know what I expected of myself last year as a receiver so I expected that of my receivers this year to ﬁnd the open spots and run the right routes,” he said, sitting around the discarded gear in the locker room. His lone game on defense came in the division ﬁnal against Catholic Central, where he helped hold the Crusaders to 13 points. “I wish I played there most of the year,” he laughed. DeCicco graduates this year and said he is in talks with a few schools. He isn’t sure where he’s headed yet, but plans to keep playing in the future.
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Someone who’s a team player on the ﬁeld, at school and in the local community? Nominate them for ‘Athlete of the Week’ by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2013 • NEIGHBOURS
Paying dues to namesake
■ FUNDRAISER: Banting students raise money for Canadian Diabetes Association
Hundreds of students from Sir Frederick Banting secondary school took to the streets earlier this month to raise money for an illness that affects 2.4 million Canadians and to pay homage to the man who made life for these people possible. Nearly 7% of Canadians will be diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime. To raise money and awareness about this all-to-common ailment, staff and students at Banting spent a week fundraising. They held a clothing drive, students paid to park in the teachers' parking lot, and there were popcorn and T-shirt sales all week long, plus a raffle for London Knights tickets. The fundraising ended with a diaSir Frederick Grant Banting is born in Alliston, Ontario. Nov. 14, 1891 betes walk. The entire school braved the frigid cold on Nov. 14 to march along Wonderland Rd. Proceeds were donated to the Canadian Diabetes Association. “Banting is so close to my heart. Diabetes is so close to my heart, so this event is really important,” said Gr. 12 student organizer Emily McDonald. Banting secondary school has
Students head up Wonderland Rd. as part of Banting secondary school’s diabetes walk.
Students get ready to depart on the diabaetes walk.
special relationship with diabetes because the school was named after Sir Frederick Banting, the Canadian doctor credited with discovering insulin. It was while he was working in London as a general practitioner in October 1920 that Banting discovered
insulin. The Banting House at 443 Adelaide St. N is thought to be the place where he was ﬁrst struck with the idea that led to the discovery of insulin. The building is currently home to the London branch of the Canadian Diabetes Association.
He is awarded to Military Cross for heroism. 1919
Banting and John James Rickard Macleod receive the Nobel Prize in medicine. Banting is only 32 years old, making him the youngest Nobel laureate in the area of physiology and medicine. 1923 1934 Knighted by King George V
Banting dies in Newfoundland. Feb. 21, 1941
Banting is voted the fourth Greatest Canadian. 2004
1916 Banting enlists in the Canadian Army Medical Corps after graduating with a medical degree from the University of Toronto.
1920 While living in London, Banting wakes up a 2 a.m. with a breakthrough idea that leads to the discovery of insulin.
1989 The ﬂame of hope is lit outside of the Banting House on Adelaide St. N as a tribute to Banting and diabetes victims.
■ HOLIDAYS: Simplicity is key to stress-free hosting
Holiday hosting 101
Whether you’re a seasoned host or facing the daunting task of preparing your ﬁrst Christmas turkey this year, having your friends and family over for the holidays can be overwhelming. But it can also be incredibly rewarding if you plan ahead. Follow these holiday hosting tips to keep this year’s gathering fun and stress-free. ■ MEALS Arguably the focal point of any holiday gathering is the Christmas feast. “Try to plan your holiday meal around the number of guests, who your guests are, and many you have coming to your event,” said Tami Collins, owner of Steel Grill catering services. “Elegant, fork friendly meals are easy and less formal.” When it comes to the menu do your best to accommodate any dietary issues your guests have. “Often you can incorporate a dish into the meal planning that is health and delicious as well as accommodating,” she said. Flip through your favourite cookbooks, holiday magazines or browse online food blogs through websites like Pinterest to get some tasty inspiration. ■ DÉCOR Have a fun when getting your home holiday ready this year. Decorating is not meant to be a daunting, time-consuming task. Try to enjoy it and keep your Christmas decorations in line with your personal tastes. “Less is best,” Collins said. “Simple and elegant never loses style. You can change a look with fresh ﬂowers and greens, some blingy or gold ribbon, and twinkling lights.” Remember, fresh greens not only make your home look festive, they make it smell great too. ■ PLAN AHEAD The earlier you begin planning the party, the less stress you're likely to feel as a host. Certain items for the party, like decorations and certain snacks and beverages, have no expiration dates, so buy such items well in advance of the party. This leads to one less task to tackle in the weeks and days leading up to the party. Planning early also affords you ample time to coordinate with guests and decide who will be responsible for certain party tasks. Planning a party at the last minute can be stressful, so if you know you will be handling hosting duties this holiday season, start preparing for the party as soon as possible. ■ HIRE A CLEANING SERVICE One of the more difficult parts of holiday hosting is cleaning the house before guests arrive. A thorough house cleaning can take up a substantial amount of time, which tends to be hard to come by during the holiday season. To avoid a late night cleaning session or the need to spend a valuable weekend afternoon hard at work around the house, hire a cleaning service to come and clean your house in the days before the party. Such services can clean your home in a fraction of the time it might take you to do so on your own, and this removes one of the more time-consuming and arduous tasks from your to-do list ■ FOCUS ON FRIENDS & FAMILY “I keep calm by remembering what is important to me: good service and good ﬂood,” said Collins. “Keeping your entertaining and meal planning simple allows you to enjoy your special time with guests and family.” If playing host and chef is too overwhelming, don’t feel ashamed calling in help. Catering services, like Steel Grill, offer high quality good and top-notch service. “It gives the host a chance to be a guest at their own party,” Collins said. “But if catering is not your style, try to keep it simple by having your children help with serving throughout the event. Make it a family affair.”
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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2013 • NEIGHBOURS 7
■ DESSERT: Cookies are the perfect tasty treat for any age
Plenty of ways to ward off the winter greys
■ GROWING: Indoor plants allow those with green thumbs to stay busy during the winter
Christmas trees aren’t the only winter greenery you can bring into your home for the holidays. There are plenty of other indoor plants that can add a festive touch to your
of the week
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
interior décor. Whether you like a traditional poinsettia or want to try a brightly coloured cyclamen, these winter indoor plants are all easy to care for and require little to no maintenance.
■ Cyclamen This ﬂowering plant features brightly coloured upswept petals and marbled bluegreen leaves, making it a unique addition to your seasonal greenery. Native to Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and Somalia, cyclamen is now used regulary in North American homes during the holidays, because of its white, pink and red ﬂowers. “You typically ﬁnd these around Christmas time,” said Crystal Denison from Van Horik’s Greenhouses and Garden Centre. These plants are low maintenance and are often discarded by owners in late winter when it comes time to refresh their seasonal décor. Instructions: Keep in direct sunlight. Does not require a lot of watering, but should never be completely dry.
Christmas Cactus ■ Christmas Cactus The cactus certainly isn’t the plant that springs to mind when one thinks of Christmas, but it’s a popular choice during the holidays, says Denison. It’s low maintenance and long lifespan make it a hit with those who like consistency. “We have people who come in and say we’ve had our cactus since 1960,” Denison said. Native to the coastal mountains of southeast Brazil, the Christmas cactus has long, thin leaves and brightly coloured ﬂowers that hang downwards. Flowers come in a variety of colours ranging from red and white, to pink and yellow. Instructions: Keep in direct sunlight. Does not require a lot of watering, but should never be completely dry.
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes, ready in 1 hour I Makes 4 dozen Sooooo soft and chewy...try it, you won't regret it. ■ Ingredients • 1/2 cup shortening • 1/2 cup margarine, softened • 1 cup packed brown sugar •3/4 cup white sugar •1 cup peanut butter ■ Preparation Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 2. In a large bowl, cream together shortening, margarine, brown sugar, white sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Combine the ﬂour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the oats until just combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. 3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until just light brown. Don't over-bake. Cool and store in an airtight container.
■ Poinsettia Although poinsettias are most often associated with the holiday season, they are actually tropical plants. Native to Mexico and Central America, poinsettias can thrive during the holiday season and even last long after the holidays have come and gone. While many associate poinsettias with their bright red leaves, its ﬂowers are actually the tiny yellow blooms in the middle of the leaves. “They’re great for adding a burst of colour,” Denison said. Instructions: During the day keep plant in direct sunlight, but make sure the plant receives ample darkness at night. Poinsettias bloom in response to shortening daylight hours. Keep the soil moist, but don’t over water. Misting the plant can help retain humidity.
•2 eggs • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose ﬂour • 2 teaspoons baking soda •1 teaspoon salt •1 cup quick-cooking oats
Rachelle Coleman, director of the Northwest London Resource Centre, stands beside a wall of appreciation in the group’s main office.
Coleman digs 'craziness' of
■ ORGANIZATION: Northwest London Resource Centre focuses on getting people active in their community
BRENT BOLES Neighbours
When Rachelle Coleman stepped into her role as director of the Northwest London Resource Centre in early 2012, she had her work cut out for her. “When I came here there wasn’t programming running,” she said. “We started from ground zero.” In the time since, the group has refocused around three pillars: youth engagement, community development and providing access to emergency services. That means providing unique and engaging events for the city’s northwest residents. On Nov. 1, the group held a Pumpkin Retirement Party where people came out and smashed their pumpkins in a composter. “It’s an event to bring children, youth and families together for the day after (Halloween),” said Coleman. “People deﬁnitely are having fun with it.” This summer the resource centre hired six girls to canvass the neighbourhood and create a mural that reﬂected the community. The painting stands almost 40 feet tall on the side of the Medway arena. “It was a massive project but a great way to get them to be active members of their community,” she said. They’re also one of four area neighbourhoods that hire about 12 students – called the Dynamic Dozen – to perform ﬂash mobs at daycares and public events like the pride parade. “You’ll see them just breaking it down on the side of the road sometimes too,” she said. The programming represents a signiﬁcant change in culture from when Coleman started, but she says its been a team effort. “Everybody that’s here has been so passionate about making that change,” she said. That includes not just the members of her organization but the community as a whole. “From the day I started here, people were so welcoming,” said Coleman. “It’s such a supportive neighbourhood, we really wouldn’t be able to support youth without such great supporters standing beside us.” Coleman came to London from Sarnia several years ago. She studied child and youth work at Lambton College before going to King’s University College for childhood and social institutions. Her educational background led her into working at schools with high needs students and in home counseling. “I think that the experiences have absolutely helped me in working here.” But it wasn’t until moving to London that she took an interest in community development projects like the Northwest London Resource Centre. “I didn’t know (community development) existed before I moved to London,” she said. Still, it’s an adjustment she’s enjoyed making. “Working with people on a neighbourhood level, in their space is such a unique experience. Not every city or neighbourhood has that.” Coleman’s already started thinking about what events the group can add to help the community ﬂourish. The last two years have been hectic for Coleman and her team but seeing the impact they make is her inspiration. “It makes the craziness worthwhile.”
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2013 • NEIGHBOURS
Brown mum on
Matt Brown is staying quiet about whether or not he plans to run for mayor during next year's municipal election.
■ MUNICIPAL POLITICS: Rookie Coun. Matt Brown believes strong neighbourhoods reap big rewards for city
A: Over a four-year period, from 2009 to 2012, budgets associated with programs and services run by the City of London increased at an average annual rate of 0.1%. Over the same period of time, our boards and commissions, including the London Police Service Board, increased annually on average by 4.4%. These kinds of increases are twice the rate of inﬂation and by deﬁnition are not sustainable. As chair of the audit committee, I can tell you that the city has engaged PwC as our outsourced internal auditor and they have identiﬁed millions of dollars in savings and efficiencies that will reduce pressures on future budgets in the years to come. Over the past year, I have been encouraging our boards and commissions, organizations that are independently run by autonomous boards, to work with PwC as well. It stands to reason that if the City of London can recognize savings, efﬁciencies and cost avoidance through this process so too should our community partners. To date, the London Public Library, the Middlesex London Health Unit, the London Middlesex Housing Corporation, the London Transit Commission and the London Convention Centre have all engaged PwC. "I am pleased that the London Police Service Board has recently decided to do so as well." Earlier this month you voted no to a request from Middlesex Centre asking council for expanded access to London's sewer system in order to accommodate a 184-home development in Arva. Six other councillors joined you in nixing the plan, which has been sent to city staffers to prepare a report. Why don't you think allowing Middlesex Centre increase access to London's sewers is a good idea? A: The question of whether or not the City of London has enough capacity to do this has already been answered in the affirmative. The larger question is, what are the unintended consequences and the potential opportunity costs associated with allowing something like this to happen? In it’s simplest form, it comes down to supply and demand. 184 homes built in Arva represent approximately 25% of all single-family homes built over the course of an average year here in London. If these 184 homes were built in areas already identiﬁed for growth within London’s urban growth boundary the City would collect just over 4 million dollars in Development Charges. Development Charges pay for the costs associated with a growing City including things like roads, infrastructure, emergency services, garbage and recycling pick up, parks, community centres, libraries and more. As well, and on an annual basis, if the 184 homes were built in London the City would collect approximately $500,000 annually in property tax. Over a 10-year period, the opportunity cost associated with this decision could be in the neighbourhood of ten million dollars in lost revenue to the City of London. Your name has been floating around as a viable candidate for mayor over the past year by council insiders and critics. With the election just around the corner, do you have any plans to run for the top job? A: We are not quite three years into a four-year term and, as a sitting member of council, I’m continuing to focus on the job I have been elected to do. There is still a lot of work ahead – particularly with the upcoming 2014 budget which, considering the challenges related to the growing deferred infrastructure maintenance gap, may prove to be our most difficult to date.
A fresh face at city hall, Coun. Matt Brown receives regular applause from colleagues and residents alike for his dedication to Ward 7 and London. Last year, when scandal swirled around Mayor Joe Fontana, Brown’s council colleagues considered temporarily installing his as mayor. While no such move occurred, his name is still regularly thrown out as a candidate for London’s top job. LFP Neighbours caught up with Brown this week to talk about the upcoming mayoral race, the budget and his connection to the Hyde Park Santa Claus parade. You've been a major supporter of the Hyde Park Christmas parade, but in the past others have criticized the neighbourhood for holding its own parade when the city hosts one downtown each year. Why do you think it's important for individual communities to host their own holiday events? A: Northwest London is one of the fastest growing areas in our city and as neighbourhoods develop, it’s natural for residents to create their own traditions. In 2008-2009, before I was elected to city council, my wife Andrea and I spent 12 months volunteering with 140 other Londoners representing all 42 planning districts across the city as members of the London strengthening neighbourhoods task
force. At the end of the year we developed the London strengthening neighbourhood’s strategy, which is seen as a best practice across Ontario and is now a driving force when it comes to planning decisions and neighbourhood policy development here in London. The strategy understands that the heart and essence of every city and community are its neighbourhoods. Resident-led neighbourhood traditions like Northwest London Celebrates Canada, the Hyde Park Santa Claus Parade, the Nor’West Optimist Bike Rodeo, the North West London Resource Centre Pumpkin Retirement Party and others help bind a community together. Strong neighbourhoods contribute to the quality of life for everyone and have a positive impact on the city as a whole. Hyde Park is the only community in London that holds an independent parade. What do you think that says about the neighbourhood? A: I think this says there are many caring, committed volunteers willing to give their time and talent to create something special and enhance the quality of life for the community. There are so many neighbourhood traditions, festivals and events that take place in London, including lighting of the lights in Victoria Park, Wortley Village’s Gathering on the Green and Halloween parade, several Canada
Day celebrations and various summer festivals organized across the city to name just a few. The Hyde Park Santa Claus Parade is organized by volunteers from the Hyde Park Lions and the Nor’West Optimist Clubs. There is no cost to enter a ﬂoat, the parade has a budget of under $2,000, an audience of several thousand and the ﬂoats are made up of local schools, churches, businesses, teams, service groups and clubs. The target audience is children aged toddler to ten and the event takes place in the morning to accommodate naptime for younger spectators and participants. If you attend this year, the parade will depart Sherwood Forest Mall on Nov. 30 at 10 a.m., proceed up Gainsborough Rd. and ﬁnish just West of Hyde Park Rd. You will see neighbourhood children and community members on the ﬂoats and thousands of parents, relatives and community members lined up along Gainsborough Road watching them. It’s a fantastic budding tradition and it’s open for all Londoners. At the police services board meeting last month, you spoke out about a proposed increase to the London police budget. Police were asking for a 4.2% increase, an additional $3.8 million to the existing $90.5 million budget. What were your reasons for opposing the increase?
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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2013 • NEIGHBOURS 9
Adam Kreek shows off the gold medal he won at the Beijing Olympics to some of London's young rowers. Kreek was the keynote speaker at the London Rowing Club's Celebration of Rowing event.
One stroke at a time
BRENT BOLES Neighbours
Adam Kreek had been rowing across the Atlantic Ocean one stroke at a time for 73 days when his boat capsized in the Bermuda Triangle. “It was absolutely terrifying,” he recalled. It’s an adventure the keynote speaker shared with the London Rowing Club for their Celebration of Rowing evening on November 23. “I think it’s important that we set big goals in our lives,” said Kreek. Kreek estimates he was about 10 days short of his goal of crossing the Atlantic when the boat he was rowing with three friends ﬂipped earlier this year. “From an emotional standpoint, I’m very happy with the outcome. I still think we failed but I’m very pleased with what we accomplished.” The celebration marked a return home for Kreek, 32, who ﬁrst learned to paddle with the club as a teenager before going on to a decorated career in the sport. He won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 as part of Canada’s eight man rowing squad before attempting his trans-Atlantic journey. “This (club) is what planted the seed for the next dozen years of my life.” The event, which included a meet and
■ OlyMpian: Gold medal rower says “little rowing clubs” are pillars of community
Olympic gold medalist Adam Kreek speaks to aspiring rowers before the London Rowing Club's Celebration of Rowing event.
greet for Kreek’s teenage fans, along with a silent auction, was meant to raise money for the organization. The ﬁnals numbers aren’t tallied but organizers say about 160 people attended and they expect to surpass $10,000 on the night. The group hasn’t been able to capitalize on their traditional fundraiser – a race on the Thames – since 2006 because of problems with the Springbank Dam. Training moved to Fanshawe in the wake of the issues and membership dropped from about 400 to 100 said vice president Rick Vantfoort. “The club went for a real struggle ﬁnancially,” said Vantfoort. But off the water problems have stabilized and athletic success led to the organization being named the club of the year by Row Ontario. “This has been a banner year for us,” he said. Vantfoort said that night was an opportunity to celebrate that success and excite club members about the future. “Knowing what we’ve done in the past makes you want to keep going,” he said. Vantfoort hopes that in the coming years the club can give back and be more visible in supporting London through charity events. “That’s another great value to instill in your youth rowers as well – that there’s more than rowing out there,” he said. It’s a sentiment Kreek supports. “Little rowing clubs and sports clubs like this, I believe, are pillars of communities. They’re what hold us together. They bring meaning and purpose,” said Kreek. “I’m a big believer in that community aspect of sport.”
There’s a new pastor in Hyde Park. American Christian leader, author and international speaker Charles Stone, 58, took over as lead pastor at West Park Church on Sunday. He arrived in London earlier this fall from Illinois where he pastored at the Ginger Creek Community Church, just outside of Chicago. “I’m really excited God’s let me do this,” Stone said about the new position. South of the border Stone is an established Christian author and founder of Stonewell Ministries, an organization dedicated to helping pastors worldwide through speaking tours, coaching, writing and consulting. Born in Atlanta, Ga, Stone had just ﬁnished an undergraduate degree in engineering and was on his way to law school when at age 23, he switched gears completely. “I had a distinct sense in my heart that God wanted me to give my life to working with the ministry,” he said. He sat on it for two weeks, making sure it wasn’t just a phase, and then decided to tell his family he’d be enrolling in seminary school, not law school.
A man of both God and science
They were supportive and Stone never looked back. He’s dedicated the last 35 years of his life to helping others ﬁnd meaning in their lives through Christ. “I love seeing that spiritual light inside folks come on,” Stone said. “When you’re serving from your sweet spot, that’s the only thing that’s going to satisfy.” He’s pastored at churches all over the United States and through his organization, Stonewell Ministries, has helped ministers and pastors all over the world deal with the daily stresses and realities that come with being a spiritual leader. “I have a heart of pastors,” he said. “A lot of them have fallen off the grid. They’re broken down and beat up. I wanted to create a vehicle for pastors to be emotionally happy.” He also has a deep interest in the brain and is currently working on a master’s degree in the neuroscience of leadership online through the Neuro Leadership Institute. His interest in the mind stems from his 27-year-old daughter who was born with a brain tumor and has undergone six brain surgeries in her young life. Stone says he’s excited to discover more about Western University’s Brain and Mind Institute, which is a major hub for neuroscience research in North America. He’s also excited to learn about Canadian culture and the city of London. One of his goals as pastor at West Park is to turn the church into a force for good in the community by collaborating with other organizations and stakeholders. “I think there’s a great opportunity to work together to solve some of the community’s problems,” he said. You can’t do it alone.” But for now Stone’s ﬁrst priority is learning the ins and outs of his congregation at West Park. “I want to learn and to listen,” Stone said. “We want to be a place the community can look to and connect God and the bible to day to day living.” ■ West Park Church 995 Gainsborough Rd. Belongs to the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptists, a conservative Baptist association with 500 churches in Canada.
■ SPIRITUALITY: American-born pastor takes helm at West Park Church
Charles Stone stands in front of the fountain inside West Park Church.
The Pump House
Photos courtesy of local historia n Ken McTaggart Workers from the Electr ic Street Railway Company is facing west with the pu sit in a boat on the Tham mp house in the backgrou es River in 1897. This ph lower, due to the broken oto Springbank Dam making nd. Today the water along the Thames River is much it difficult to even access the bank.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2013 • NEIGHBOURS
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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2013 • NEIGHBOURS 11
Residents watch the snow making machines at Boler Mountain. Despite the crazy snowfall, Boler remained closed on Sunday.
ely Sunday s enjoy a leisur Brave resident k Park despite the snow. an stroll in Springb
Glenn Stacey shovels snow off his Griffith St roof Sunday afternoon, after spending six hours shoveling his driveway.
Grade 10 students Katie during Banting secondar Bowering and Jamie Vallance carry a banner y school’s diabetes walk on Nov. 14.
Brian Webster flexes in front of the Ford Flex he managed to navigate through a snowy bank Sunday afternoon. Grade 12 students Emma Kowal, Shannon Fisher and Kenny Grenier get pumped up with face paint during Banting secondary school’s diabetes walk on Nov. 14.
a chunk of wer through lo b ow sn is plows h Ron Schives riveway Sunday. d t ee tr S Griffith
snow while cl
A snowplow trucks along Riverside Dr. Sunday afternoon after nearly 70 cm of snow walloped the west end Saturday night and Sunday morning.
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