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).


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 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.

  • 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.


  • commented 2015-10-28 17:14:13 -0400
    how do you feel about council getting a pay increase?

    Considering the way the strike was handled, I’m starting to feel like Joe never left. Pretty classy timing for that conversation.

    What exactly is the plan for orchestra london? If they don’t have a plan, can I have a few hundred thousand dollars?

    I promise to entertain a very small percent of londoners and in no way justify myself.
  • commented 2015-09-30 10:39:13 -0400
    I have concerns about your stand on UBER. It places passengers at risk due to unregulated drivers. Also my concern is it is against London’s bylaws. You were voted in to represent the citizens of London, which includes taxi drivers. Why have you forsaken your constituents? Makes us question why we voted for you!
  • commented 2015-09-30 10:39:12 -0400
    I have concerns about your stand on UBER. It places passengers at risk due to unregulated drivers. Also my concern is it is against London’s bylaws. You were voted in to represent the citizens of London, which includes taxi drivers. Why have you forsaken your constituents? Makes us question why we voted for you!
  • commented 2015-09-30 10:39:11 -0400
    I have concerns about your stand on UBER. It places passengers at risk due to unregulated drivers. Also my concern is it is against London’s bylaws. You were voted in to represent the citizens of London, which includes taxi drivers. Why have you forsaken your constituents? Makes us question why we voted for you!
  • commented 2015-09-21 15:34:17 -0400
    HI; We live on Barker street north of Cheapside and would like to see speed bumps put in from Barker and Cheapside to Victoria St how can we go about doing this do to the speeding from stop to stop.
  • followed this page 2015-08-26 11:32:41 -0400
  • commented 2015-08-26 10:12:00 -0400
    Hi Jesse. I am concerned about the number of houses in our area being bought up for rental homes. I personally live beside one of them and it’s a nightmare. What is the City doing to keep track of people who buy up these homes and don’t apply to have it rezoned for a rental home? I understand the owner of the home beside me also owns 4 other homes in our neighbourhood so when they register the deed with the City and their name comes up 4 or 5 times and there is no application to have these homes as rentals is it not questioned? Are there no checks and balances in place?

    Our neighbourhood is generally middle class folks and our houses are affordable to slum lords so I believe that when any of the homes go for sale we are prime targets for these people to buy them up and rent to people who are not condusive to the neighbourhood.

    This is a practice that is very detrimental to the hardworking home owners in our neighbourhood and I feel that the City is not looking out for us. We pay taxes, we work hard at keeping our homes looking nice and we are good citizens of London who are upset and becoming prisoners in our homes because of disrespectful renters not to mention the constant conflict with them. To be fair, I’m sure there are some families that are happy to be in our neighbourhood and wonderful people and I can only speak to my current situation. That said, I completely understand that you can have a not-so-great neighbour that owns their own home and have the same situation but traditionally, home owners are the heart of their neighbourhoods and it would be sad to see good people sell and be pushed out because of this ongoing practice.

    As well, are these people who buy these homes claiming the rental income? I suspect not if they are not following the city bylaws.

    What can you do to help or will you at least put this issue on your agenda to review and investigate further for the people in your area?
  • commented 2015-08-25 13:10:59 -0400
    Hey jesse, its david everett you have visted my apartment buildings during your campaign awhile back, anyways im in need of some help. Iv been living in 30 gammage street for 2 years and as of late my hydro has sky rocketed when hydro in a one bedroom should be 50 a month im paying 130.00 a month. And it makes no sense since i work mon to fri 8am to 430pm, i live by my self i dont have any fans or air conditioners going. Iv talked to my landlord and numerous time iv called london hydro and no one wants to look into this problem any deeper. I feel i have no help and im

    Being sucked of my money. I come to you because when i met you , you came across as the type to get the job done and was about saving money for all. That is why you got my vote. Soo could you help me out maybe get the hydro company and landlord to get an electrician out here to look at the meter i feel someone is stealing hydro.
  • commented 2015-08-12 11:09:48 -0400
    While you may not have anything to do with the decision about who is involved with the Kelloggs property, the fact that you can state that Fontana’s and Megna’s criminal backgrounds don’t matter completely astounds me. You can be assured that I will be voting for anyone else but you in my riding at that the next opportunity.

    Seriously, for shame.
  • commented 2015-07-26 22:47:48 -0400
    Could you please tell me why the wading pool at McMahen Park is not open on the weekends

    Thank you.

  • commented 2015-07-06 18:16:40 -0400
    Question? Why do we need a registered lifeguard for wading pools? It seems to me that the parents should be looking after their kids. I know we did. What ever happened to common sense? I know it is in short supply these days, but a wading pool? What a waste of resources. Are the pools closed with no water or did the people get told not to use them?
  • commented 2015-06-18 15:55:19 -0400
    They?have cut down the boulevard trees on glasgow st infront of school I have water ed those tree’s for 6 years as the city requested cared for an injury why they young couldn’t they been moved why plant more or water when just cut down
  • commented 2015-05-10 21:11:53 -0400
    We, in Old East, continue to observe traffic down Queens Avenue travelling at frightening speeds. We have a lot of children and toddlers living in the area and I fear the worse for them. I notice that Cheapside and Maitland has a nice raised part of road, at the intersection, which would force drivers to slow down. We have already had fatal accidents at the intersection of Queens and Elizabeth.What else will it take to slow these fools down ? Thanks.
  • commented 2015-05-07 09:03:17 -0400
    Hi Jesse, I’m writing to you as a concerned parent and individual. We visit Boyle Park about three times a day with a young toddler – with the warmer weather, we’ve noticed a foul, toxic smell coming from Forest City Moulds & Patterns. I am not sure of what I am smelling, but know it does not smell safe, nor should be downwind of any public spaces, especially a childrens playground. I DO NOT want another vacant building in OEV, but wonder if there are clean air initiatives, or controls that this company has to abide by? Also, if there has been any reviews or air quality tests completed for this business in recent years that you can share? I called the company and they had advised me that they have never been asked for an air quality report and do not have one to provide to me.

    Last night (May 6) was especially bad, and the park was full of around 150 people with soccer – which occurs several times a week.

    I appreciate you looking into this for me and my neighbours.
  • commented 2015-05-01 17:13:32 -0400
  • commented 2015-04-26 23:00:41 -0400
    The Mayor doesn’t want this information but I can send it to you . The Invassive Council of Ontario has put the Crimson King Maple on the do not plant list.. A Fanshawe Professor in his personal opionion is that Crimson King Maples should not be planted by Governments.. What is more troubling is my property survey contradicts facts submitted by the forestry department and the Mayor nor Josh Morgan will respond.

    As with everyone I deal with I ask you to verify and only speak what you think even if it negative criticism of me .. Thankyou
  • commented 2015-04-07 14:21:38 -0400
    Would you please support an exception to the cost for the city of removing the crimson kind norway maple tree they planted on my boulevard. The tree is considered invassive by many professionals and to top it off the city planted it eleven feet from a existing tree, I have to get Josh Morgan to ask for the exception but I hope you will support it. I already have planted six trees on this property, over 40 black cedars as well as landscaping. I am willing to remove the tree and rent a stump grinder myself……I have maintained this large section of boulevard for the last fifteen years and to tell you the truth have spent considerable time to make the outside property nice while neglecting my own backyard.
  • commented 2015-02-22 23:10:21 -0500
    We’re lucky to have you in London. :)
  • @jesse_helmer tweeted this page. 2015-02-22 22:54:14 -0500
    About Jesse Helmer, Councillor, Ward 4, City of London http://www.helmer.ca/about?recruiter_id=5608