Last weekend was St. Patrick’s Day and I suspect there were a few of you who went out dressed in green to enjoy a shamrock beer or two. I am certainly not above enjoying a good time myself, but I was saddened to hear about how a little good-natured fun and frolicking got out of control in the Northeast end of London last weekend. How is it that upwards of a thousand people, many students from the nearby Fanshawe College, were able to get so frenzied that they caused a massive riot that left newspapers across the country shaking their heads at us. That’s right folks. London, the Good, doesn’t look so hot with that much unchecked aggression spilling over into the streets to the tune of over $100,000 in damages. And from a real estate perspective, it certainly doesn’t help my industry either.

So I want to remind my fellow Londoners, and let the rest of the country know, how great a community London, Ontario really is. I work, raise a family and play here, and don’t regret a minute of it. We have access to state-of-the-art health care, excellent education opportunities, an active arts community, extensive parks and nature areas, wonderful sporting  activities and a vibrant downtown core. Not to mention a rich multi-cultural community, extensive shopping opportunities, short commute times, an international airport, an accessible housing market, close proximity to our Southern neighbour the USA, and quick and easy access to major highways (401 & 402). What’s not to like?!

London Health Sciences Centre

Don’t just take my word for it though. We have some of the best hospitals in the country ( ie. University Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London Health Sciences Centre, Children’s Hospital, Parkwood and Victoria Hospital). Plus, we are lucky to house the London Regional Cancer Program, which services Southwestern Ontario from Kent to Grey county. The Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic is a world-renowned facility that treats some of the top elite athletes around and they are located within our city’s bounds as well. And the Lawson Health Research Institute works with St. Joe’s, LHSC and Western to further research and advance health care around the world, right from our very own backyard. That is a pretty impressive list and good to know for anyone that is in need of any health-related services.

Western University

We have more than excellent health care though. London is also home to stellar post-secondary education as well. We are blessed to have Western University, a highly ranked medical and research-based school, here in our fair city.  It also has significant affiliate schools that branch off of it, namely the Richard Ivey School of Business, Brescia University College (women’s university), King’s University College (Catholic, arts, social sciences) and Huron University College (arts, science & theology). Not far away is Collège Boréal, a Francophone-based college. At the other end of the city is Fanshawe College, one of the largest colleges in the province with over 110 programs available, including degree and graduate programs. If that doesn’t suit you, there are also several vocational and language schools, as well as many career colleges around.

Storybook Gardens

There are lots of opportunities to get out and have fun in London that don’t include lighting news vehicles on fire either. We are home to the Grand Theatre, Orchestra London, Museum London, and the Western Fair District (for trade shows, a casino, harness racing, restaurants, Yuk Yuk’s and of course the Western Fair). If that sounds too high-brow for you, why not head to the John Labatt Centre to catch a concert, show or hockey game, Storybook Gardens for family fun, attend the London Fringe Festival in June to watch unique performers, or go to one of the many annual festivals that occur in the city throughout the year (thinking Sunfest, Bluesfest, Home County Folk Festival, International Food Fest). If you are looking to get closer to Mother Nature, there are more than 60 kms of trails across the city for hiking, biking, roller blading or plain old walking. Fanshawe Conservation Area offers camping, boating, fishing, bird watching and of course lots of space to wander/hike around within its 3000 acres. Or perhaps you would just be happy with a quiet activity like reading from a book borrowed from one of the 16 branches of the London Public Library. Really, what more can you ask for?

Oh, I forgot shopping! You can head to one of many farmer’s markets (Trail’s End, London Farmer’s Market, Covent Garden Market) where local, fresh produce is available right from the farmer themself. Several shopping malls are dotted across the city, both large and small. Wortley Village houses several quaint boutiques and specialty shops. And you can’t  forget about Richmond Row, with its many restaurants, night clubs, and of course a wide variety of shops to tempt your pocket-book with.

Is that enough to remind you that the Forest City isn’t so bad? Need I remind you as well that the cost of buying a home in London is markedly lower than many of the surrounding comparative cities? And that we have our own television station, several newspapers and of course many local radio stations. Despite national economic concerns, we have big employers like 3M, Kellogg’s, Trojan Technologies, General Dynamics, McCormick’s Canada, London Life and even hometown proud Labatt Brewing Company.

So I ask you, what is it about London that you love? I would love to hear your stories, so leave me a comment today!