Exploring ways to keep London vibrant over a pint
London Community News
By Paul Everest/London Community News/Twitter: @PaulEverest1
Ideas about how to attract and keep people in the Forest City flowed as smoothly as the alcohol at the third Pints and Politics event on Wednesday evening (July 18).
Organized by Shawn Adamsson as a way to increase public involvement in municipal politics while providing a means for people to network, the event began in May and Wednesday’s gathering brought roughly 40 people out to Wink’s Eatery on Richmond Street.
While attendees sipped their favourite libations or munched on appetizers, Adamsson asked the group to share their thoughts on why people come to London and why people leave the city.
Some people said job opportunities can be the driving force behind whether a person chooses to move to London — or stay here if they grew up in the city — or leave the city.
Others said they made the decision to stay in London for social reasons.
“You go downtown, you can’t help but run into people you know,” one man told the gathering.
Another man who identified himself as a researcher shared information from an article in the research journal Cities which backed up these ideas about why people come to or leave a city.
He said the No. 1 reason people, especially students, will leave a city is for a job while the No. 2 reason is social networking.
“You go where your friends are.”
Other reasons for leaving or staying depend on quality of life, the affordability of a community and safety.
According to the article, the man said, an important way to keep people in a city, particularly those young people who choose to come to a community to study at a post-secondary institution, is to have the city invest in the school’s career services.
Many people agreed the City of London has to do more to keep the talented people attending Western University and Fanshawe College from leaving town once they finish their studies.
“Western draws talented people but the city doesn’t have the jobs to keep them here,” said one man, adding that he believes that where people end up after school comes down to where they can easily find jobs.
A woman responded by saying the city needs to use the university as a “ground floor” to “harvest” talent.
But overall, said one man, the entire city needs to change its attitude when it comes to the young people who flock to Western and Fanshawe each fall.
“This city hates students,” he said, adding he finds it ironic that many people in the community want students to stay after they graduate but treat them poorly when they are still in school.
Other suggestions for attracting people to London — and convincing people to stay here — brought forth during the gathering included making the city more “cosmopolitan” to keep young people here, making the city more “walkable,” creating an online “portal” where people can connect, find out what’s going on and access information on the community and having the city host more “memorable” events.
One man said the real question everyone needs to consider is why the city is not having success in attracting people who, after going out into other parts of the world to gain life experience and are now ready to establish roots and have a family, back to London.
“What kind of city do we need to be to do that?” he asked.
And it would appear London needs to come up with an answer soon.
Sean Quigley, executive director of Emerging Leaders London, said his organization, which according to its website focuses “on the retention, development and engagement of emerging talent as a means to a more vibrant, inclusive and dynamic London community for the future,” recently conducted a survey about the issues discussed during this week’s Pints and Politics meeting.
It found that out of 289 respondents, 60 per cent are “very” or “somewhat” likely to leave London in the next 10 years and 70 per cent of those people have at least a “Bachelor (degree) level of education.”
Quigley said comments from respondents about why they are considering leaving included concerns about difficulties meeting people or gaining employment experience.
He added his organization hopes to further discuss this issue with the community this fall.
As for the next Pints and Politics meeting, Adamsson said he hopes to set a date and come up with a topic within the next week.