It was a Saturday, the 23rd of January, 2021 that I decided to check out downtown London as a reason to just get out during the “stay at home” order and take some photos.
Soon after arriving downtown, I realized things were looking much worse than I imagined due to the Ontario lockdown. If stores did still exist, they were shutdown. Many locations are completely gone and fencing or plywood has been installed to protect them. It looks absolutely sad.
Should London be worried?
When I decided to get out to take some photos, I didn’t have a plan. The goal of mine was to simply get out and press the shutter button. After a short visit, I felt a bit worried about London’s downtown.
I’ve never seen downtown London look so rough or decimated. Because of that, I have no idea what kind of timeline we’d be looking at for the downtown to recover – whatever that might even look like.
Yes, it’s winter and it was freezing cold, but I would still expect some level of activity on a weekend in the core of a city with almost half a million people. The people out wandering around appeared to be homeless. If not homeless, there really didn’t seem much of a reason for anyone to be out wandering around – almost like zombies roaming the streets.
What’s still open? What’s totally closed? There sure seems to be nothing happening at Hotel Metro or other storefronts.
Even worse is the intersection of Dundas and Richmond Street. There seems to be nothing for anyone that would move into these new developments happening in the downtown, like Riverwalk, One Richmond Row and the many others listed and proposed here.
Covid and Winter won’t last forever, but…
As it was just Groundhog Day, Wiarton Willie has predicted 6 more weeks of winter, but how much longer until lockdown and stay-at-home orders are lifted in Ontario due to COVID?
As this lockdown and orders continue, how will the downtown London fair? I keep hearing more and more about crime and vandalism.
How many more stores and restaurants will become boarded up? The artwork, like the above, that gives thanks to the frontline workers, is a nice attempt to improve things but it’s still a depressing sight to see (in my eyes). Sadly, some of the interesting creative artwork is being defaced now.
I need to go out and explore on a day with some sunshine to see if things felt extra gloomy due to the cold weather.
The time it might take for Downtown London to bounce back concerns me. I just read about how London’s tourism might be the last to recover. The depth of decay over the year seems like it will take many more to recover from. I hope that isn’t the case and that summer brings people to the core, but at the same time, many people were complaining of a lacklustre downtown even before these effects of covid lockdown and closures.