A City of Opportunity: Mayor Josh Morgan Attends Fireside Chat at Huron
LONDON, ON - In the spirit of community partnership, Huron welcomed London Mayor Josh Morgan to campus for an engaging fireside chat about all things London, as well as a candid conversation about how Mayor Morgan got started in politics. The event, which was part of the Canadian Club of London Speaker Series, was hosted by Daryl Newcombe, City Hall reporter at CTV London.
To begin the evening, Newcombe explored the beginnings of Mayor Morgan’s political interests, and how that led to him becoming the Mayor of London. Growing up in rural Ontario, the mayor explained that he was always interested in the visual arts, and decided after high school that he would pursue his passions in an art program at Sheridan College. After a year in the program, he realized that he had a different calling, and decided to move to London to study at Western University. After taking a variety of courses in his first year, it became clear to him that his true calling was in economics and political science, and he transitioned to these programs in his second year.
While living in residence at Western, a friend suggested that he become a floor representative, and without much knowledge of what the position entailed, he agreed. In this position, he was added to the residence council, and represented his floor on issues related to student housing. Enjoying the experience, Morgan took the next step and ran for president for the Social Science Faculty Council, with a platform focused on better communications with student members of the faculty. He won that election by 12 votes, springboarding a political career that would span other positions at Western, elected positions in the City Council, and eventually, to his position today as Mayor of London.
Londoner By Choice
Reflecting on his time at Western and what prompted him to stay in London after graduation, Mayor Morgan says he “fell in love with the city, and all it had to offer”. In addition to his love for the city, Morgan met his wife here in London, and together they have 4 children. Mayor Morgan said that his artistic side comes out most with his children, where he encourages them to produce art that is prominently displayed around the house - even within sight of his webcam when he is in important council meetings.
Addressing the Issues
The mayor then went on to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the city today. In addition to building stronger partnerships with key local institutions such as Western and Huron, he is focused on the rejuvenation of London’s downtown core through increased infrastructure investment and a new strategy for the development of high-density buildings. He is also responding to the rise of homelessness with strategic resource hubs placed around the city that provide services for those most vulnerable.
City of Opportunity
With lived experience, Mayor Morgan is a strong proponent of London being an ideal destination for international and domestic students alike. As someone not originally from London, he understands his success was made possible by the excellent opportunities available in this community for students after they graduate. Asked what he would say to international students considering London as a study destination, Mayor Morgan pointed to London’s status as the fastest growing city in Ontario. “This means we have a massive labour shortage in many different sectors. As a result, I think the opportunities in our city for career building and career development are better, in many ways, than larger cities,” said Morgan. “Coming to study in London, and getting to know the city, will provide international students with excellent career opportunities should they decide to stay after their studies”. Also, the mayor mentioned the added bonus of affordability, as “the cost of living is much more affordable in London than other larger Canadian cities”. In fact, recent studies show the cost of living in London is 23% less than Toronto and 36% less than Vancouver.
Another key issue that was discussed throughout the evening was the housing crisis, and in particular, the lack of affordable housing for vulnerable segments of the population, including students. The mayor commended Huron University for taking the initiative in building a new residence to help meet the demands of incoming students, “I see residences and student housing as a critical component to the province’s solution of building new homes to alleviate the housing crisis. The building of residences, for me, count towards the targets set forth by the province,” said Morgan. “There is pressure on the rental market, and students make up a large portion of that market in London. The more spaces we can provide for students who are coming to study here, the better it is to alleviate pressure on the rental market. For cities like London, where students make up such a large proportion of the population, having guaranteed specific spaces for students is a great advantage.”
The Canadian Club of London is a local non-profit organization that celebrates the achievements of Canadians through events and speaker series. As a proud partner and sponsor, Huron hosts the speaker series to help build community and showcase Leaders with Heart. In it’s 117th year, the London chapter is one of Canada’s longest running Canadian Clubs. To learn more, click here.