There is no main boss in central London at a critical time, and no interim leader has been appointed as the search for a new one begins.
The downtown surveillance agency for merchants was left without a leader after Executive Director Janett MacDonald abruptly left her post, announced on Thursday, and the board did not appoint anyone to a temporary position.
This is happening at a time when downtown businesses are facing massive construction work that torn Dundas and York streets, the loss of parking on King Street and the advent of a new bike path, as well as the crisis of homelessness and drug addiction in the city center.
In addition, the high-speed bus project is emerging as a project that will soon have a huge impact on the core.
“Obviously, when an organization such as Downtown London needs to replace its chief executive, this is not a good situation. If it drags on for a while, it could have an effect, ”said Andrew Sawton, a professor of political science and an expert in local governance at Western University.
“You need a situation where there is stability, when people are drawn in one direction. The problems go much further than in central London. They can do little with the homeless or with drug addiction. ”
The tenure of McDonald's was controversial because in December she faced a petition from merchants in the city center, signed 140 asking her to consider her and the board of directors. As a result, a committee was appointed to review how the Center of London works and recommend changes to the charter. A new council is due in November.
David White, who has a downtown clothing store that bears his name, slammed a downtown London board for starting the search now, rather than waiting for the new board to be in place.
“The way we got here was the lack of transparency and communication with members. For a quick search, we can jump from the pan to the fire, ”he said, if the current board is hiring.
"This is a mess. This needs to be addressed in a calm, compiled approach. The new board should appoint an executive director."
According to Chairman of the Board Gerald Gallagher, the search will begin immediately, and there is no time limit.
He said the board of the London city center hit the search committee.
“We would like to take the right amount of time. We will start now, and ideally they will be hired before the new board is in place, ”Gallagher said.
MacDonald was criticized for her leadership style, which was decisive, but also caused complaints from members that she did not receive enough input from them, even though they fund the agency’s annual budget of $ 1.8 million through a fee.
“Decisions were made on behalf of members without their approval,” White said.
He points to $ 540,000 spent on consulting firm Live Work Learn Play to attract new businesses, $ 900,000 spent on the Fanshawe College campus in the center of the former Kingsmill store, and MacDonald’s support for the express bus, which many oppose downtown.
Some businesses in Richmond Row recently discussed the issue of separation from downtown London and the formation of their own business.
“We congratulate her on the promotion. This is an opportunity for the city center, now people are excited. We are thrilled. There was a fortress, said White.
But MacDonald's supporters say she worked diligently with the business mainly, attending events and constantly advertising the city center, said Jonathon Bancroft Snell, who owns a gallery on Dundas Street.
“She was just support in everything. It was Janette who helped me move to Dundas Street and helped with my location, ”he said.
According to him, in the city center, more and more companies find and fill empty spaces, even on Richmond Row, under the direction of MacDonald.
“She came to events, participated and created the atmosphere. Unfortunately, she’s thrown away two years before she retires. ”
A report on the condition of the city center published this year confirms Bancroft Snell’s statement, which says that from 2015 to 2017 about 2,000 jobs were added in the city center, the number of vacancies in retail trade fell to 7 percent from 7.9 , and the estimated value of fixed assets amounted to 1.75 billion dollars.
Attorney Mike Lerner represents many merchants who demanded a review of the board of directors and MacDonald and welcomed her departure, saying that it was time for the business group to move forward.
“This provides tremendous opportunities for the city center, it became clear that over the past 10 months, the board of directors and the CEO have lost the confidence of their members,” he said.
“Janette’s departure provides an opportunity to start all over again when the city center is on the verge of really doing some wonderful things.”
Lerner would like to see the acting director, appointed now, before the new hiring, saying: "It is important that someone is in charge, the ship needs a captain."
Gallagher would not explain in detail why MacDonald leaves, saying only: “This is a human resource problem.
“There was a lot of turbulence, this is one way to describe it. She is moving on to other possibilities. ”
He would not say if MacDonald left or was fired.
“I think we have suffered losses, but we must move forward, and we have the opportunity to build. We must find someone who will continue the good work. ”
MacDonald has been an executive director since 2000, she worked in the financial services sector in London, where she worked before heading the agency. A long time resident of London, she hails from Glasgow, Scotland.
“She brought passion and cooperation into a difficult situation. We always joked that she was the head of the giant complaints department, ”said Gallagher.
“She solved problems perfectly, the city center meant everything to her. I don’t know if the criticism was fair, in many respects it was the decisions of the Board. ”
According to him, it is too early to know what impact her departure will have on the city center, given his current problems. Ariel Kayabga, which represents the core.
“It's definitely hard to see a change of leadership in the organization right now, because change is waiting for us in the center,” she said in an email.
“The goal is always to keep moving forward and give others the opportunity to take this organization to the next level.”
What did they say
“I am grateful for the great work and contribution that Janette made to the LDBA and our business community, and I look forward to it and want to wish her success in her new endeavors.”
Ariel Kayabaga City Counselor
“We are worried that they will rush to hire a new CEO, they do not think clearly. That doesn't make sense, given the noise we had. ”
David E. White, downtown merchant
“It must be someone who can join the groups, and someone who can use the resources of central London to solve problems in the city center.”
Andrew St.on, Local Government Expert, Western University
“The one who replaces her will have a difficult role. Being everything for everyone, it’s a difficult concert all the time, especially during the period of growth, construction and change. ”
Tanya Park, a former adviser representing the city center