NEWSCAST - Thursday, August 29th, 2019
- Two months after Western went smoke free, university officials know the real test begins next week as more than 35,000 students return to campus greeted for the first time with the move to ‘clear the air.’
- Compliance has been good even with a number of conferences and events held on campus the last couple months. Smoking is allowed on the city sidewalks of Western and Windermere roads and Richmond Street.
- When Western began its smoke-free process, it was among only a few campuses in Ontario to be heading that direction. Now, however, more than a dozen university and college campuses have banned smoking, including Fanshawe College, who went smoke-free last fall.
- One of Western’s first visible steps, following consultations across the university community during the past three years, was to ban smoking within 10 metres of buildings. In January 2018, Western added Clear Air Corridors, public spaces where smoking was not allowed, and six months later barred smoking except for six specific areas.
- As of July 1, those designated areas were eliminated, with smoking now only allowed only on city sidewalks. Entrances to main campus will all have ‘butt towers’ where people can discard the remains of their cigarettes.
- Smoke-free ambassadors will once again be navigating the campus this school year to spread the word.
- Beyond cigarette smoking, the ban includes vaping, a popular activity among students.
- Smoking cannabis has never been permitted on campus as Western is considered a workplace. Tobacco used for ceremonial purposes in Indigenous spiritual practices is exempt.
- A continuing focus will be around University Hospital, whose rotating population of patients and visitors has crossed to smoke on Western’s campus since London Health Sciences Centre banned smoking on its campuses in June 2016.
- Those looking into possibly quitting smoking can take advantage of Western’s smoking cessation programs and enroll in the STOP program, a partnership with the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
- The cost to run London’s public transit system in future years is a looming budget bomb, a skyrocketing price tag that one politician and transit commissioner predicts will get a “really rough ride” at council.
- After earlier warnings of a significant funding crunch, the London Transit Commission (LTC) reviewed next year’s operating budget at a meeting Wednesday night, hearing it’ll take a 20 per cent funding boost from city hall to balance the books.
- And that’s with a 15 per cent hike to bus fares in 2020.
- Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer, who serves on the transit commission, called the increase “very steep.” LTC’s base budget is expected to balloon by more than 15 per cent.
- The total budget – which includes a base amount of funding that’s required to keep the “status quo” plus the cost of another 18,000 new bus service hours, to be covered by assessment growth – is pegged at $88.2 million.
- So, what’s driving up the cost?
- Keeping bus fares unchanged for many years, and pushing off two hikes for customers in previous years is one culprit.
- Some Londoners are crying foul – and calling for an apology – after dozens of Old North homeowners were told they’d get free street parking, only to find out it was a city hall mistake.
- The group was told they’d have to pay up after the wrong form letter was sent out by the city’s parking office to up to 30 homes.
- The letter, sent Aug. 14, said the Waterloo Street parking pass available to homeowners in the immediate area is free for the year that starts Sept. 1.
- In reality, it costs $60 for homeowners near Cheapside and Waterloo Street.
- After a neighbour went into the parking office to collect his free parking pass, the city office sent a revised letter on Aug. 20 clarifying the error.
- The designated street parking areas are located in places where curbside parking is at a premium, including neighbourhoods around hospitals or schools. Under the system, a collection of street parking spots in the high-demand area are reserved for permit-holding residents.
- Homeowners near street parking permit areas may buy the passes to give to family or friends when they come to visit.
- The incorrect letter was sent to residents eligible for the designated street parking on Waterloo Street between Cromwell and Cheapside streets. The Old North street parking program has been in place since 2013.
- Residents seeking street parking passes near King’s University College area and Trowbridge and Mary avenues, near Springbank Drive, get the first one for free and are charged $60 for an additional permit, the city’s fees and charges bylaw says.
- Residents on Waterloo Street seeking a street permit pay $60 for the initial pass and another $60 for the second one.
- The Western Mustangs soccer teams will be kicking off their OUA regular seasons this weekend in Sault Ste. Marie against the Algoma Thunderbirds.
- Last year, the women’s team won an OUA silver medal, advancing to their second straight U Sports National Championship. It was also their third straight provincial medal.
- The Mustangs will play their home-opener on Friday, September 6th against Laurier at Mustang Field.
- The women play at 6pm with the men following at 8:15pm.
- High of 24 today with a mostly sunny sky so get out there and soak up the sun.
- Risk of thundershowers this evening into the overnight with the temperature going to 18 degrees.
- Tomorrow will see a high of 23 with mainly sunny skies.
- Then Saturday will have a high of 22 with mostly sunny skies as well.