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 part-owner of 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 five-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, working groups, boards and commissions (attendance record in %):

Past committee appointments:

  • Civic Works (97%; member 2014-2015, Chair 2015-2016)
  • London Transit Long-term Growth Report Working Group (67%; 2014-2016)

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, 80%; community and protective services, 97%). I have not missed any of the 58 council meetings we've had so far.

My overall participation for meetings of council, committees, boards and commissions is 95% (414/436 meetings) as of 26 Jan 2017. 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 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 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 61 reactions

  • commented 2017-04-26 17:22:16 -0400
    Hello Jesse. I’d just like to thank you for the speed bumps on Charlotte. The speed of the traffic was instantly improved. The street is by far safer. Thanks again.
  • commented 2017-03-19 13:31:20 -0400
    I was part of the group that fought City Hall for years to get Queens Ave reduced to one lane to change it from the freeway it was to a route suitable for a residential area. Now I hear that they plan to run one of the rapid transit lines down Queens Ave. That would nullify everything we did to try to slow traffic on this street. I have lived in this neighbourhood for over 40 years. Will we always have to put up with being the neighbourhood that gets stuck with everything that other areas would never accept. The downtown section of the plan also sounds like a disaster. The majority of people do not want this. Please reassure me that you do not support this plan and let me know if there is anything tangible I can do to fight this.
  • commented 2017-03-14 10:41:15 -0400
    Jesse, I have two comments and concerns. First, please do not sell any part of London Hydro. Since moving here to London from Ottawa I have been notably impressed by this company. You do not give away your diamond ring. It is not good business sense to hire out when you have a well run operation to date. My second concern is rapid transit. I know a number of people love to spend money especially if they can get that money from another pocket. I firmly believe that we should spend any monies on better ideas such as vastly improving our bus system, such as improving service and wait times, lengthening operating times, improving bus stop areas.What we need is better service rather than faster service. Hope you read this Jesse and thanks for providing me an way to state my concerns.
  • commented 2017-02-27 16:09:21 -0500
    Disgusted that you chose not to accept the proposal for Lorne ave school from campus creative.back to conservative,negative city planning once again.instead of a fantastic,innovative community centre we get a demolished building.for shame!
  • commented 2017-02-27 11:27:05 -0500
    Re the proposed Vimy park by the roundabout on Hale. What a shame to let the council have to discuss in length their proposal. The people have taken time and effort to make this little park a memorial. I’ve been to Vimy. Extremely touching. Make it a park stop playing politics.
  • commented 2017-01-27 00:52:08 -0500
    Hi

    I live on Stackhouse crescent London Ontario. I wish that city could add speed bump on Stackhouse crescent close to fanshawe park road east . This 200-300 meter S shaped road is a little bit dangerous, people drive fast on it, I wish you add bump on it.

    Thank you

    Peter
  • commented 2017-01-25 07:44:03 -0500
    About the vending machines – let’s let people make their own decisions about what they consume.
  • commented 2016-11-24 10:30:25 -0500
    Hi Jesse,


    So did anything come of that query on Census Data on commuting patterns. I just glanced at a report put together by some firm (it looked “really” expensive) on commuting patterns of Londoners. The questionnaire was quite thorough, and the sample size was very large (over 14000 respondents). The report was prepared by some company out of Whitby (AECOM). My guess, it must of cost several $100,000. Published in 2010.


    As a social scientist (I worked at Stats Can for over a decade on methodology), the first thing I’m skeptical about is: no discussion of “non-response” at all. What was the response rate? It is standard in the industry to get response rates in the order of 10 – 20%. In my mind, even after their attempts to “post stratify”, the quality is of very questionable merit.


    It talks about a “target sample size”.. and an “obtained sample size”, and they correspond. But did they get this with a non-response rate of 90% or 10% or what? Anything over 50% in my mind is garbage.


    If the city only needs to know about “commuting patterns” at a very refined level of geography, there is the census, which was mandatory in 2016 (long form). And, it is likely of high quality. I have no idea as to whether the data AECOM provided is of quality (my guess, it is seriously biased). STats Can refuses to release data with less than 50-60% response, and there they have some of the most talented methodologists/statisticians in the country adjusting for non-response. Who does it at AECOM?


    D. Kerr
  • commented 2016-11-15 08:08:03 -0500
    I agree with Jim McCallum. I’ve been asking this for years. The answer was always that it’s an arterial roadway and would slow traffic down. I would be interested to know how many accidents there have been on Highbury between Florence and Trafalgar in the past year alone because of speed. I live on Langmuir and have been almost hit by a car twice, standing on my property, by people racing around the corner in order to avoid turning left (east) onto Brydges because of this. It’s gotten so bad that you hear the squeal of brakes and just wait for the bang. Cars heading north down the overpass with a green light can be doing 70 by the time they pass my street.
  • commented 2016-11-11 19:28:12 -0500
    Can something be done about the intersection of Highbury & Brydges? In my opinion, there needs to be an advanced green for left turns northbound and southbound on Highbury. Between 5 and 6 p.m. especially the left turn lane northbound is always backed up with FedEx trucks, LTC , and numerous vehicles all trying to turn left onto Brydges, often blocking the straight through lane. On average, only one vehicle per yellow light can make the left turn, while Highbury continues to get backed up. Any thoughts on how this could be helped?
  • commented 2016-10-19 08:57:13 -0400
    Well, the city"ostriches" have their heads well buried in the sand. I’m confused how information that will allow an informed decision is dangerous. If they are afraid to listen for fear of not understanding, we’ll use small words! Are all multi-million $ development deals approved/unapproved without weighing all the pros and cons and gathering as much info (lets do a study!) as possible? Not their decision? Bull. All city employees are entitled to be heard and treated fairly, not singled out year after year as the only evil entity in the city. The slander campaign is going at full steam and the fire department the proverbial beating post again.Go ahead council look the other way as the firefighters offered millions in savings, when an arbitrator may possibly hand over more than the Fire Department is asking. Are you then going to say “I didn’t know”! You had your chance to save time effort and money and show council can indeed show foresight and lead London in making important decisions. Otherwise what is council actually for? I’m surprised how short sighted some of our “new council” is! Ignorance must be bliss!
  • 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.