About Me

jesse-helmer-root-cellar.JPGI was sworn in as the city councillor for Ward 4 on 1 December 2014 and I'm serving my first term on city council. In addition to serving on city council, I'm a consultant at Groundforce Digital, a company that designs and produces web sites and trains people how to use digital tools effectively.

As a city councillor representing Ward 4, my job has several distinct aspects:

  • Legislator: along with my colleagues, and with the advice of city staff (provided through reports and at meetings) and residents (often shared via email or at meetings), we work in standing committees and as a council to consider, debate and pass bylaws regulating a wide range of activity in our city, including, for example, parking, trees, land use planning, taxation, business licensing and animal protection. 
  • Resource allocator: we work as a council to set the City of London's operating budget ($804,418,000 in 2015) and capital budget ($129,900,000 in 2015) and allocate funding to the various services provided by the city (roads, snow removal, fire and police services, homelessness prevention, affordable housing, parks and recreation, etc). The city also funds agencies, boards and commissions, such as the library, London Transit and the public health unit, and some non-profit organizations.
  • Helping residents navigate the bureaucracy at city hall and connect with the right city staff person to resolve issues. Our excellent four-person staff team in the Councillors' Office, which works with all fourteen councillors, does a lot of this work.
  • Listening, connecting, advocating and informing: within our wards, the broader city and outside the city, councillors learn a lot about what's happening in the city and play a connecting role between residents and various businesses, nonprofits and other levels of government. Councillors also share information with residents about what's happening at city hall.

As a councillor, I serve on the following committees, boards and commissions (attendance record in %):

All of the meetings that I have missed for the health unit and the Old East Village BIA have conflicted with council or committee meetings, primarily because of the more frequent meetings related to the City of London's strategic plan and budget in January and February 2015. I missed three meetings (one planning and environment, one civic works and one Lake Huron water board) during a June 2015 trip to the Canadian Urban Transit Association conference in Winnipeg and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Edmonton. I missed a Lake Huron water board meeting in June 2016 because I was attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Winnipeg.

I also attend meetings of committees of which I am not a member (audit, 73%; community and protective services, 100%; corporate services, 96%).

My overall participation for meetings of council, committees, boards and commissions is 95% (331/348 meetings) as of 16 Sept 2016. See this Google sheet for details.

Disclosures of pecuniary interest

My company, Groundforce Digital, works with a variety of clients in North America. Some of those clients are in London, so there is a possibility that I will have a pecuniary interest in a matter that comes before city council that affects one of those clients.

My wife, Adina, works at Canada Post. I will declare an indirect pecuniary interest in matters relating to Canada Post that come before city council.

I own shares in Redknee, a publicly-traded software company headquartered in Mississauga that operates globally. My wife and I also hold shares in TD Monthly Income Fund.

My father, Alan Helmer, was the general manager of South Muskoka Curling & Golf Club in Bracebridge for the first 17 months that I served on council (Dec 2014 - April 2016) and I declared an indirect pecuniary interest in matters relating to the City of London's golf courses during that time period.

Disclosure of expenses

Each councillor has a maximum budget of $15,000 for expenses. Reports on our expenditures are published every three months on the City of London web site.

I usually attend the following conferences: Association of Municipalities of Ontario (August), Federation of Canadian Municipalities (June), FCM Sustainable Communities Conference (February), Ontario Good Roads Association (February), and the Canadian Urban Transit Association (May or June).

I usually do not charge per diems, home office internet, tickets to attend community events, or pay for advertising that is self-promotional. I do not claim a travel allowance, as I am able to travel quickly from City Hall to locations in my ward on my bike or on the bus, which is very inexpensive.

Statement of Remuneration

In addition to quarterly disclosure of our office expenses, city staff report annually on the overall remuneration for each councillor. This report includes compensation, benefits and and stipends or expenses paid for as a result of our service on agencies, boards and commissions. Page one of the report for 2015 shows $33,427.91 in compensation (keep in mind that 1/3 of that is not taxable), $10,166.26 in benefits and $1,754.03 in expenses not included in my general expense account (for a tour of rapid transit projects in Ontario and attending the CUTA conference in Winnipeg).

Background

tl;dr: see my LinkedIn profile.

I believe politics can be a force for good in our community. I’ve been involved in politics since I was a teenager as a member of several political parties, as a student journalist covering politics and as an elected student representative. I was honoured to serve as a councillor representing arts co-op students at University of Waterloo, on the board of directors of the student union, on the Senate of the university and as president of the student newspaper. I learned that to be an effective elected representative, you need to be inclusive, transparent, responsive to your constituents and able to disagree respectfully with your fellow representatives (we're not going to agree on everything!). I’ve also worked as a volunteer on local, provincial and national political campaigns.

Curious by nature, I enjoy asking questions, learning about issues and bringing people together to figure out how we can innovate to solve problems. Recently, I led a team of grassroots Liberals who championed the idea of a basic income pilot to dramatically reduce poverty in Canada, reaching out directly to Members of Parliament, policy experts and Canadians more broadly. We were thrilled when the idea was adopted as party policy at the national convention. I also facilitated the Emerging Leaders working group on economic prosperity, which recommended at London X that we invest in a municipal fibre optic network to make affordable high speed internet more widely available to Londoners and to provide an economic advantage to London businesses.

Because I believe that Londoners are experts on their own lives and often have very good ideas on how to make our city a better place to live and work, I started Better London a couple of years ago to provide Londoners with a platform to share their ideas, get their neighbours to contribute, and create a better community and city together. Now in the capable hands of Michael McAlpine, Better London has helped in a small way to support the campaign to Save Lorne Ave, to bring food trucks to London and to encourage people to opt-out of the Yellow Pages.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life, and with the help of my parents, student loans and a bursary, I earned a Master of Public Administration from Queen’s University, where I focused on the non-profit sector and international trade. I then joined the staff of the Loran Scholar program in Toronto, where I worked with a great team of colleagues and volunteers to raise over $20 million from business and community leaders that we invested in hundreds of young Canadians all over the country who demonstrate outstanding character, service and leadership potential.

Through my work and volunteer experience I've helped to develop or overseen budgets ranging from several hundred thousand dollars (student newspaper) to several million dollars (at the scholarship foundation, the student union and on the Senate of the university). I have some experience asking uncomfortable questions about budgets (ask me about the time the now Governor General yelled at me in a Senate meeting).

For over 20 years, my Dad was a branch manager for TD Canada Trust, which meant our family moved every few years to a new community in Ontario. Moving got harder as we all got older and our family eventually settled in Bracebridge, where I attended high school and worked part-time as a crew coordinator at the local McDonald’s and as a cook at Santa’s Village. I spent a lot of time riding my motorcycle, shooting pool and playing golf. These days I’m riding a bicycle, but you’ll still find me on the course at Fanshawe Park or River Road.

It was through volunteering at the student newspaper that I met my wife, Adina, who grew up in London and attended Knollwood Park, Lorne Ave and Central. Adina works as a casual postal clerk at Canada Post. After living in Kitchener-Waterloo, Kingston and Toronto, we moved to London in 2008 to be closer to Adina’s side of the family. We didn’t have a car, so we rented an apartment on Proudfoot Lane to be close to a grocery store and bus routes while staying within cycling distance of the train station. I kept working a couple of days a week in Toronto, so I’ve taken a lot of trips on Via Rail. We bought our first house six years ago in Huron Heights.

Have a question or comment?


Showing 50 reactions

  • commented 2016-09-25 15:54:12 -0400
    Hi Jesse,

    We arrived home from vacation today to find a white wire running from our cable box, along our fence to the next store neighbor’s fence and into their cable box. We were not asked or informed of this or why it was done. The neighbor informed us that their landlord had cut a wire when digging the lawn and this was the cable company’s fix. The wire being WHITE is offensive and we want to removed, I feel that the wire should have been directed to the cable box(boxes) that are on the streets not into our box attached to our house. Do these companies have the RIGHT to come onto our property, use the box attached to our house WITHOUT our permission? Should they not at least have left us some kind of notice in our mailbox with their explanations and if it is a temporary or permanent solution . Please advise of our rights in this matter.

    Thanks,

    Julie
  • commented 2016-09-20 10:26:43 -0400
    I think you are doing a good job, but I understand that you are agreeing or pushing to let UBER into town. Have you done checks on the taxi industry ? I drove twice once in ealy 80,s and later in early 90,s. The city has a set amount of plates for the taxi drivers based on the size of the city. Taxi drivers can sit for hours and wait for a call , if it does not come they do not get paid and they STILL have to pay for a lease on their car and pay for own fuel. It is the lowest paying job in the city , no stat pay ,no holiday pay and mostly based on lease or commision. Now if you allow UBER to come in we will now have the possiblilty of more vehicles on the road for the size of the city then nessassary, hence taking away even MORE money from those legally on the road. Taxi drivers have to pay BIG money just to get a license, and work long hours to get reward for that. I do not know what UBER does, I think UBER is taking away money from the taxi drivers in the city.
  • commented 2016-08-21 10:13:12 -0400
    Just heard about the iminent tree bylaw. Can you please ask Council to exclude trees which are (i) on private property and (ii) can be demonstrated to be damaging the owners property ?? Case in point, I own a black walnut that is raining walnuts on my car roof and threatening the sewers with it’s root system. Surely I ought not to be penalized for removing it. Indeed, I think walnut trees ought to be excluded period as I’m told they shed growth inhibiting, toxic sap onto the ground around them.
  • commented 2016-07-21 22:03:25 -0400
    Hey Jesse helmer
  • commented 2016-07-08 10:26:24 -0400
    Could I get some London Pins – Our youth group is sponsoring an exchange so our youth are going to Calgary and their youth are coming here. We would like to take some pins on the trip. Could we have 30 pins with the City of London for the youth and 10 for the volunteers – (40 total). If you could drop them in my mailbox at home – 239 Sterling Street – I would appreciate it – I would not be able to make it to the office before City Hall closes.
  • commented 2016-06-25 18:58:11 -0400
  • commented 2016-06-24 18:22:05 -0400
    Have some back bone about the mayor. All you councilors are basically spineless. Now, all the councilors are meek. I’m so embarrassed to be from this mixed up city. Shame on all of you.

    Dump the mayor. Anyone who has to rely on an agency to help him;especially Brown being a teacher. Absolutely pathetic.
  • commented 2016-06-23 09:59:32 -0400
    I have a comment. It is about adding my name to all those people who do not want to see Matt Brown any more. When we, the citizens of London, vote for a person to represent us, we do so based on the words and pledges of that person. We trust that the truth is there. Like you, our elected officials are chosen from the cross-section of London’s citizens. If the elected member grossly undermines the trust we have placed in him/her, the option should be with the citizens, and NOT the official, to decide on staying in office. In my opinion, he can never do the job we elected him for and therefore is of no use to us. The public trust is gone, Blind faith has been replaced with no faith. I know you have your own opinion and my letter will not change that, but this isn’t just some guy and girl getting it on at London Life. They are none of our business. But our mayor’s behaviour IS our business.

    I just wanted my voice to be heard..
  • commented 2016-06-22 16:19:48 -0400
    Mayor Brown has to go. If his wife can’t trust him, how do you expect 400,000 people to? Is there really a need for a discussion regarding this? This is completely and utterly unnacceptable. There is no other available course than a resignation. Let’s be responsible and be accountable for our actions.
  • commented 2016-06-13 10:35:39 -0400
    Jesse, I met with you when you were campaigning and I voted for you. Since then I have agreed and disagreed with you on several issues. This one may seem trivial but I have to speak out for all of us seniors and veterans. Please, change the garbage limit to 3 if you will, but don’t go to 2 bags until you change the garbage pickup. My part of Ward 4 just went through the miss a week and because of the May 24 long weekend we had to wait an additional day. Thank God it wasn’t middle of July or August. If you want to eventually go to a lower limit please think of what damage it might cause. Tell Mr Turner he can pick up my garbage on those long weeks and keep it his garage. Better yet I’ll even deliver.
  • commented 2016-06-10 16:08:09 -0400
    Hi Jesse, I was just wondering if there has been any consideration or way to acknowledge rental properties in the proposed 3 bag/can per house hold garbage limit? Clearly there is a big difference between a single family home verses a house converted to apartments with 3-4 units in the one house? Is there a way for them to be exempt or identified?

    Thank you, Mark
  • commented 2016-05-26 07:19:22 -0400
    The LRT vs BRT debate concerns a matter so fundamental to the long-term future of London that the final decision shouldn’t be left to a handful of politicians and beaurocrats (with their various biases and conflicts of interests). Instead, we should hold a municipal referendum. (Its cost would be the price of true democracy If the law doesn’t allow for such an option, the law ought to be changed.) Each and every citizen of this city ought to have a right to directly participate in making this monumentally important decision.
  • posted about this on Facebook 2016-05-15 14:55:51 -0400
    About @jesse_helmer, Councillor, Ward 4 in #ldnont
  • commented 2016-05-12 15:59:41 -0400
    Hello Councillor Helmer,


    Can we get an update on the number of people that have signed the petition for LRT in London? The momentum is there and we are grateful you have ignited this. Personally, I am sharing like crazy. Thank you! Christopher
  • commented 2016-05-12 01:04:23 -0400
    I have already signed but in light of remarks made by city politition Maureen Cassidy. “Cassidy said she didn’t intend those May 5 debate comments to “create a headache” for anyone in Ottawa or at Queen’s Park. She says she wasn’t referring to anyone specific at the time.” (LFP.) I think it is important that city hall step aside and put a vote to the people on what will be asked of upper levels of Government. If Miss Cassidy can not quote a source it is clear she was using a falsity to further her agenda.
  • commented 2016-05-11 22:22:10 -0400
    Yes I will suggest and I will give you the Green Light

    For LRT Rail systems in London because London is growing

    And expanding from Dorchester to Dutton and West Lorne and Rodney

    And London will keep expanding into Komoka and Kilworth and Delaware

    And ilderton and Lucan and Arva as well too.

    And London Has already expanded into Hyde Park and Lambeth

    And will eventually expand into Thorndale.

    I think a Momorail will go a lot faster than a City Bus to get to all

    Those places.

    And I will give Mayor Matt Brown go ahead for the Monorail systems in London

    If Kitchener and Toronto has it why not London?

    Have a nice Day.
  • commented 2016-05-11 22:22:08 -0400
    Yes I will suggest and I will give you the Green Light

    For LRT Rail systems in London because London is growing

    And expanding from Dorchester to Dutton and West Lorne and Rodney

    And London will keep expanding into Komoka and Kilworth and Delaware

    And ilderton and Lucan and Arva as well too.

    And London Has already expanded into Hyde Park and Lambeth

    And will eventually expand into Thorndale.

    I think a Momorail will go a lot faster than a City Bus to get to all

    Those places.

    And I will give Mayor Matt Brown go ahead for the Monorail systems in London

    If Kitchener and Toronto has it why not London?

    Have a nice Day.
  • commented 2016-05-11 22:22:07 -0400
    Yes I will suggest and I will give you the Green Light

    For LRT Rail systems in London because London is growing

    And expanding from Dorchester to Dutton and West Lorne and Rodney

    And London will keep expanding into Komoka and Kilworth and Delaware

    And ilderton and Lucan and Arva as well too.

    And London Has already expanded into Hyde Park and Lambeth

    And will eventually expand into Thorndale.

    I think a Momorail will go a lot faster than a City Bus to get to all

    Those places.

    And I will give Mayor Matt Brown go ahead for the Monorail systems in London

    If Kitchener and Toronto has it why not London?

    Have a nice Day.
  • commented 2016-05-11 22:22:05 -0400
    Yes I will suggest and I will give you the Green Light

    For LRT Rail systems in London because London is growing

    And expanding from Dorchester to Dutton and West Lorne and Rodney

    And London will keep expanding into Komoka and Kilworth and Delaware

    And ilderton and Lucan and Arva as well too.

    And London Has already expanded into Hyde Park and Lambeth

    And will eventually expand into Thorndale.

    I think a Momorail will go a lot faster than a City Bus to get to all

    Those places.

    And I will give Mayor Matt Brown go ahead for the Monorail systems in London

    If Kitchener and Toronto has it why not London?

    Have a nice Day.
  • commented 2016-05-11 22:21:57 -0400
    Yes I will suggest and I will give you the Green Light

    For LRT Rail systems in London because London is growing

    And expanding from Dorchester to Dutton and West Lorne and Rodney

    And London will keep expanding into Komoka and Kilworth and Delaware

    And ilderton and Lucan and Arva as well too.

    And London Has already expanded into Hyde Park and Lambeth

    And will eventually expand into Thorndale.

    I think a Momorail will go a lot faster than a City Bus to get to all

    Those places.

    And I will give Mayor Matt Brown go ahead for the Monorail systems in London

    If Kitchener and Toronto has it why not London?

    Have a nice Day.
  • commented 2016-05-11 20:41:30 -0400
    Jesse how can I sign a petition against light rail? Your petition only allows people who agree with you to show support. Are you not interested in the people who object to this proposal.


    Comments based on your 16 points:

    The LRT proposal has no return on investment and will permanently increase the tax burden on Londoners over BRT only. In addition London has a long history of over estimating revenue and significantly underestimating costs. This is not a good combination on a project of this scale. Proceeding could commit Londoners to 10’s of millions in cost overruns.


    In addition the extra infrastructure and annual operational cost required to support the LRT will continue to be a burden on tax payers. Despite what the business case may say, it isn’t possible for annual operating costs to be lower supporting two different technologies. WestJet didn’t become profitable by flying 2 different airplane types, they did it by buying the same plane model as their support infrastructure was setup efficiently. It was only after they had been established that they increased their inventory, and their support costs.


    The BRT system is all Londoners can afford considering the other high cost projects this council is considering. They don’t have their financial house under control and they are spending money like it was water. I would point out (working in Waterloo) that the Waterloo tax increase this year was lower than London and it already included their LRT transit increases and their LRT system is much longer.


    Rob
  • commented 2016-05-11 12:15:21 -0400
    Jesse, I want to applaud your efforts to improve London’s rapid transit plan, and keep it (at the very least) on par with other developments. This decision is crucial for the future of the city — don’t let London fall behind compared to other SW-ONT cities that already have a strategic advantage of closer proximity and faster connections to Toronto.


    I’m posting because I want to address a point in today’s lfpress article “Light rail gets thumbs down from businesses”. In the article, several magnates say LRT would stymie numerous downtown residential developments. This is backwards thinking. From the developers mindset, ‘if they build it, they will come’, but how are these people gonna move around the city? Indeed, as downtown residences invariably attract young people a great many of these will be students who will undoubtedly rely on LTC to get about town. If you think about other major intensification projects where public transportation planning did not take into account massive increases in riderships commensurate with residence development - i.e. Liberty Village in Toronto- then this push back against LRT is simply small-town thinking that will stymie London’s development well into the next century, if the city even recovers.
  • commented 2016-05-07 18:03:52 -0400
    I disagree with LRT. I think bus is the only option. Our roads are not wide enough. Think about it. If LRT takes up 2 lanes of Dundas to Highbury, buses will either be sharing the other lanes with more traffic or we would have to take the LRT to Highbury then transfer to a bus to get to Argyle Mall etc. It would not be good for Old East. London is too small for LRT and the whole world can change before we’d be ready for it. Electric cars, smaller cars etc. can change the whole landscape. What we need right now is more police enforcing traffic rules i.e. the Windermere bridge fiasco.

    We could have bus only lanes and it would be easier to change routes etc. If there was an accident with LRT everything is shut down. Just think of the recent instances of this in Toronto.

    Fix the roads, sewers, water lines etc. before even thinking of rapid transit.
  • commented 2016-04-29 18:06:32 -0400
    I wanted to let you know that I support your stance on the future of London’s transit system and the benefits light rail would provide for our community. Keep fighting the good fight and know that you have support from the people you represent. Thanks Jesse.
  • commented 2016-02-19 00:26:51 -0500
    Another nasty accident at Queens Ave and English today. I think we are averaging about one a month and have chalked up a few fatalities over the years. Any news on the previous suggestion of having a raised intersection such as that at Cheapside and Maitland ? These aren’t ‘fender benders’. The y are serious high energy collisions. Cheers.
  • commented 2016-02-16 15:02:46 -0500
    Hello Jesse. Great job you’re doing for your constituents, but a Councillor’s job is never done :>) I realize that Queens Place, a short dead end street, may have escaped the City’s priorities for snow removal and seasonal cleaning, however, it is the only vehicular access point for Lorne Avenue Public School staff and parents. Furthermore, some of the mother’s are pushing strollers while escorting their school age children to school. It was almost impassable today and is usually the last in the neighbourhood to get plowed. Can you talk to your road maintenance people to see if they can put a higher priority on road and sidewalk clearing ? We also don’t seem to get our street cleaned during the other seasons too. It seems every year I have to call them to remind them. Perhaps a persistent record needs to be placed on their priorities database, if they have one ? Thank you again for your outstanding community service and representation.
  • commented 2016-02-13 19:44:34 -0500
    After I posted my previous comment I emailed environmental services of London and they answered my question super quick…

    From ES London -

    “What you saw was a sander with a front plow. They do not use the plows in the back streets because without a wing they don’t have the ability to push the snow to the curb. Their front plows are used to open up main streets only.


    All city and contracted plows will be in to run their entire beats starting at 11pm tonight weather dependant. By law the city is not allowed to have any snow accumulation on priority 1 roads, therefore we have been stuck on them since it started snowing.


    Hopefully it will stop snowing in the near future and we can get into the back streets and start removing the snow."


    So kudos the ES London for answering my question almost immediately!!
  • followed this page 2016-02-13 19:30:54 -0500
  • commented 2016-02-13 19:23:49 -0500
    Hi Jesse

    I live on Langmuir and have a concern about snow removal on the city streets. At approximately 7pm on Saturday February 13th I saw a city plow drive down my street with the plow up and not removing any snow. My street has not been plowed since the early hours on Friday morning. I realize that the weather has been awful but I don’t understand why full size city plows are driving around and not have the plow down removing snow? Is this because we haven’t had much snow this year so they are trying to use up our tax dollars? This also happened again on my street between 8 and 9 pm on Thursday night. What is really going on? My thoughts are they are wasting tax payers money.
  • commented 2015-11-24 12:31:44 -0500
    Hello, when I went for a walk the other day I saw bicycle a route sign on a stop sign post at Victoria on the west side of McNay St. If a person was to follow the signs they would never reach where they wanted to go, as the sign pointed north to go downtown. At least this is my interpretation. I did not go and check the other side, maybe they just need turning.

    Thanks,

    Paul.