The woman who has devoted 17 years to advocating for London’s downtown revitalization and business success is out of a job.
Janette MacDonald left her post at the organization called Downtown London Wednesday but no one is saying why.
“It’s an HR (human resources) issue so we’re not going to comment on that,” said Gerald Gallacher, chair of board. “Janette is moving on to other endeavours.”
MacDonald also declined to comment when contacted on social media.
“Sorry. No can do,” she wrote.
MacDonald has been the manager of Downtown London, formerly known as MainStreet London, since 2002.
An oversight committee has been set up to ensure the day-to-day operations continue. Another committee has been assembled to find MacDonald’s replacement as quickly as possible, said Gallacher.
“We’re looking for someone with experience, someone that is collaborative, someone that has a lot of the same qualities that we had,” he said. “It’s a difficult position. So, it’s going to be a difficult search as well.”
According to the organization’s website, Downtown London is made up of two organizations, the London Downtown Business Association (LDBA) and MainStreet London.
The LDBA represents the interests of member businesses and ensures retention in the core. MainStreet’s mandate is the overall improvement of the core, including recruitment and revitalization.
Many business owners in London have complained that the construction to build Dundas Place along Dundas Street has hurt their bottom lines. The flex street is designed to allow for community gatherings, festivals and events such as setting up a Jurassic Park viewing area for the Toronto Raptors NBA playoff championship run.
But, along the way, several businesses have moved out including McDonalds, Rexall and Runner’s Choice. The Royal Bank, just south of Dundas and Richmond streets, has moved to Fullerton Street.
The city councillor for the downtown, Arielle Kayabaga, has been briefed about the situation.
“I’m thankful for the many years that (MacDonald) was the head of the LDBA,” she said. “But, I’ve never seen London like this. The issues we’re seeing in the downtown have grown. There’s no magic solution.”
Magic might be exactly what it takes, according to Gallacher.
“We have a lot of differing views and members. There are a lot of different districts with a lot of different needs,” he said. “It’s hard to make all of that work for everyone at the same time. So we need someone that is going to perform that kind of magic.”