The League Today


 

We believe that engaged and informed Londoners are the building blocks of a vital, successful, and sustainable city.  We believe that strong and connected communities are critical to bringing them together.  Building these connections and advocating for our members is what we do. It’s what we’ve been doing for almost 50 years. 

The Urban League of London is an umbrella group whose members include a number of neighbourhood associations and community groups working to improve and connect our City.  Individuals with an interest in urban or civic matters may also become individual members of the League.

The League meets in open session monthly, except in June, July, August and December, on the  last Thursday of the month at the Goodwill Community Store & Donation Centre (255 Horton Street).  Meetings begin at 7 p.m., and all are welcome to attend.

By virtue of our registration as a registered charity, we are required to be non-partisan in our work.  In practice, we attempt to be transpartisan.  We simply don’t find labels of Right and Left to be particularly useful to our purposes.  Attempts by others to label our civic activism almost always speaks more clearly to their particular agenda than to ours.

We strive to foster a welcoming environment for all members of the London community, without regard to race, gender, age, colour, national origin, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Urban League of London acknowledges that we are on the traditional territories of the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Lenni-Lenape, and other Nations.

 

Our Board


 
Wes Kinghorn - President

Wes Kinghorn - President

Shawna Lewkowitz - Vice President

Shawna Lewkowitz - Vice President

Skylar Franke - Secretary

Skylar Franke - Secretary

Gordon Saylor - Treasurer

Gordon Saylor - Treasurer

 
 
Sameer Vasta - Membership Coordinator

Sameer Vasta - Membership Coordinator

Greg Thompson - Past President

Greg Thompson - Past President

Francis Hinnah - Director at Large

Francis Hinnah - Director at Large

Shawn Adamsson - Director at Large

Shawn Adamsson - Director at Large

 
 
George Sinclair - Director at Large

George Sinclair - Director at Large

Susan Toth - Director at Large

Susan Toth - Director at Large

 

Our Core Principles


 

Over the years, in the course of representing the common interests of our members, the League has accepted a number of key principles as integral to its ongoing activities.  They were codified in 2010 as our Statement of Core Principles.

  • We believe that liveable neighbourhoods are the building blocks of a vibrant city.
  • We advocate for greater and more meaningful citizen participation in the public affairs of the city.  To make this possible, the City of London must conduct its business in an open, transparent and accountable way.
  • We espouse no particular political philosophy and are committed to collaborative decision-making in the conduct of our affairs.
  • We support the City in the design and implementation of public policy and services that are funded fairly and provide citizens with a high quality of life.
  • We value the role that art and culture play in making our city an interesting place in which to live.
  • We are committed in our support of well-designed initiatives that foster ecological awareness, sustainable development and the principles of good stewardship of our shared resources.
  • We support orderly and well-managed growth that is sustainable and that allow the City to continue to provide high quality services.
  • We believe that the built, cultural and natural heritage of the city is a key public good, that adaptive re-use of our built heritage is an important strategy in its conservation, and that the City must take a strong leadership role in conserving our heritage assets.
 

48 Years Ago ...


 

On September 8, 1969, a meeting was held in Byron to consider the formation of a city-wide group with representation from each community association.  This meeting was initiated and chaired by the Byron Area Secondary School Association.  Twenty-two persons were present representing ten existing organizations.

A second meeting was held at St. Marks School in the Northridge area on September 15th under the auspices of the Northridge-Stoneybrook Community Association.  Nineteen persons were present representing nine associations.  There was further discussion about the purpose of the federation and how it should be organized.

The third meeting was arranged and hosted by the North Central London Community Association in Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church on September 22.  Twenty-six persons were present, representing nine associations, and a few interested individuals from areas where no association existed.  At this meeting Long-Range Goals were presented and approved.  A motion was passed that a city-wide organization be formed and that it should be called THE URBAN LEAGUE OF LONDON.  A Constitution Committee was appointed.  On October 9th a draft constitution was presented and delegates were requested to have their association accept or reject it.  On October 23rd a revised constitution was approved.  A nominating committee and election issue committees were appointed.  On October 30th, 1969, the officers of the new association were elected.     [Taken from the 1973 Report on the Urban League of London From date of Formation]

From 1969 onwards, League members were active in many facets of city life.  These included municipal elections, city planning, education, traffic and transportation, architectural and heritage preservation, environment and pollution, social housing, parks, conservation lands and open space, public recreation facilities and Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearings.  The League was incorporated in 1974 and awarded charitable status in 1978.  Thereinafter the League was able to raise money by running bingos several times a year, providing much needed funds that were used to finance numerous community and city-wide projects.  This has allowed the League to spend more than $250,000 to support worthwhile endeavors throughout the city.

When fundraising through bingos ceased in 2004, other options for fundraising were explored and the League was able to set up its own Endowment Fund with the London Community Foundation.  The initial target to raise $100,000 was reached in 2007, thanks to some generous contributions by Richard and Beryl Ivey.

Over the years, the Urban League of London, often acting as a partner with other member groups or outside agencies and organizations, has participated in and supported a variety of projects including: Canada Day Celebrations, Tree Plantings, the Cavendish Trail Project, Oakridge Pool Repairs, Henderson Trail Project, London Bicycle Festivals, St. Julien Park Revitalization Project, Sifton Bog Preservation and Enhancement Initiatives, South London Pool Project, The Responsible City Conference (1991), Tree Symposium (1991), the Urban Ecology Inventory (1988), Medway Valley Life Science Study (1989), Global Action Plan (1993-4), Infill and Intensification Study (1995), Fall Colours Flyover (1995), The Active Citizen publication, TREAs Master Composter Program, Celebrate the Thames (1996-7) which included the publication of Thames Topics (8 booklets) and the Thames Heritage Map, Connie Cunningham Memorial Garden (2000), community schools projects, library programs and many other initiatives.  In 2004 ReForest London was started as a project of the League.  This enterprise flourished and today ReForest London has incorporated and acquired its own charitable status.

One of the founding members of the Urban League was Jane Bigelow. Orlando Zamprogna (Oz) attended an early meeting but was not active in the League.  They were both subsequently elected to city council. Jane served on the Board of Control from 1970 to 1971 and was Mayor from 1972 to 1978.  For several years John Judson helped the League on OMB and heritage issues as well as our incorporation and was later elected as Ward 1 alderman from 1979 to 1982.  More recently past Urban League Chairpersons, Sandy Levin (Ward 1, 1998-2003) and Joni Baechler (Ward 2, 2001 – 2006, Ward 5, 2007 – 2014) have been elected to Council, and other active UL members who have held council seats are Ed Corrigan (Ward 7, 2001 to 2003) and Walter Lonc (Ward 7, 2007-2010).

Initially the League held most of its monthly meetings at the C.I.A.G. building, 291 King Street.  Soon after Connie Cunningham joined the League the meetings moved to the London Urban Resource Centre at 388 Dundas Street where Connie worked.  Once Grosvenor Lodge became a Resource Centre for Environmental and Heritage Groups, the League began meeting there in 1994 and, for a few years, office space was rented at the lodge from which some of the larger projects were run.  From the mid 70s to the early 90s, annual general meetings were held at Labatt Lounge.  Since that time the AGMs have usually been held at the lodge.

Over the years, League members have served on many City of London Advisory Committees and task forces including, but not limited to: the London Advisory Committee on Heritage, Development Charges Monitoring Committee, London Housing Advisory Committee, Ecological and Environmental Planning Advisory Committee, Advisory Committee on the Environment, Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Trees and Forests Advisory Committee, Thames Valley Corridor Study, Town and Gown Committee and the Governance Task Force.  When the Official Plan and Zoning By-laws were rewritten in 1988, the League prepared an extensive brief with the help of a professional planner, which documented the changes we wanted to see included in the new Official Plan.  League members participate in many of the studies, environmental assessments and Official Plan Reviews that are initiated by the city.  Since the mid 90s, the Urban League president has had quarterly or biannual meetings with the Mayor.

Urban growth, development, servicing, transportation, community facilities, environment, natural and built heritage are issues that affect all citizens of London.  Members of the Urban League review proposals, research the issues, and provide responses and presentations to the City, the Ontario Municipal Board and other open forums.

 

Past Presidents


1969-71    Bob Leroy    
1971-73    Bill Heaven    
1973-75    Judy McGowan    
1975-77    Margery Cartwright    
1977-79    Barbara Chapin    
1979-81    Dave Dunn        
1981-83    Connie Cunningham    
1983-85    Bernie Koenig    
1985-87    Rick Odegaard    

1993-94     Sandy Levin
1994-96    Will Harlock
1996-98    Sue Russell
1998-99    Marlene Gibson
1999-2000    Joni Baechler & Gloria McGinn-McTeer
2000-03    Gloria McGinn-McTeer
2003-07    George Sinclair
2007-11    Stephen Turner
2011-15    Greg Thompson