‘Community did their part’: councillors propose thank-you gifts for neighbourhoods disrupted by assessment centres

A pair of city councillors is proposing a thank-you gift of sorts for each of London’s two neighbourhoods that have been disrupted by COVID-19 assessment centres.

Ward 4 Councillor Jesse Helmer and Ward 8 Councillor Steve Lehman have a motion going to the committee level asking that staff consult residents in Oakridge and Carling Heights on potential indoor or outdoor recreation upgrades. They’re also hoping to tap senior governments for some of the funding.

“For the greater good of all of us this particular community did their part,” says Lehman, whose ward includes the Oakridge Assessment Centre, which closed just days ago. “This is a way that London can say ‘Thank you.’ It might be a small thing, but I think the important thing is it’s being acknowledged.”

Valetta Street resident Doug Brown remembers well the headaches of vehicles lined up outside his driveway and down his street as far as the eye can see.

“Basically five in the morning people were lined up along Valetta Street here and through the neighbourhood. I didn’t personally have it, but I had neighbours who had people that had peed on their lawn and had threw up garbage on their lawn when they were waiting to get their test.”

While life is returning to normal in the Oakridge neighbourhood, the assement centre at the Carling Heights Arena remains open for the time being.

One idea, suggested by the councillors as an example, would be to upgrade the wading pool at nearby McMahen Park to a splash pad.

But ultimately, Lehman says the improvements should be up to the neighbours themselves, “To listen to folks, with the public participation meeting and reaching out in other ways to see what they would like to see.”

The proposal goes to city council’s Civic Works Committee on Tuesday.


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