Thursday, 12 December 2013

Sorry Mayor Cowan No Casino in Waterloo Region

Mayor Cowan really wanted to push through this casino even though the Region of Waterloo wanted nothing to do with it. Unfortunately for him, the minority Liberal government thought twice about pissing off this region shortly before a much expected spring election and realized that it wasn't a good idea.

This is excellent news that I am happy to hear and share today.

You can refer to the CTV News Article for more information.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Hey Education System, Stop Teaching my kids to WANT!

It has been a while since my last post and I realize that this blog should have some type of theme to it but it is my thoughts coming at you in the chaotic way they come at me. Enjoy.

This rant has been percolating for a number of years now so I apologize if it gets a bit heated.  I am really frustrated by the incentive programs for kids to participate in fundraising for their various activities.  I understand that all programs cost money to run and that the money has to come from somewhere.  I know that I have kids and I will most likely be buying more than my fair share of over priced chocolates and magazine subscriptions.  I know that signing them up for skating lessons gets me a big book of raffle tickets that I should "sell" to family and friends so they have a chance to win some great prize.  Just charge me the extra $40 on my registration fees and lets call it even, ok?  These are things that I accept by enrolling my kids in "outside of school" activities.  Which are, of course, optional.

Where I get my knickers in a knot is when my kids come home from our government funded mandatory education program (aka public school) all excited because they have a "chance to win" or earn something really cool.  They come home with this:

They are so excited because they can win an iPad, all they need to do is sell 100 magazine subscriptions. The company sponsoring this fundraising activity is QSP. I do not want to comment on who they are or what they do, as I assume they probably provide a great deal of funding to a variety of worthy causes.  However, throwing this flyer into the face of kindergarten or low elementary students is about the most ridiculous thing I can think of.  What do you believe that kid is thinking?  Wow I can get all these cool toys for free!  Great Deal! The fun doesn't stop there QSP also has a "Triple Play" opportunity.  
If you sell certain types of magazines then you will get a "chance to win" an iPad or an Xbox. What, REALLY! Explain to a young child what "chance to win" actually means.  Maybe I am an over protective parent, maybe I am naive, maybe I am over sensitive, or maybe this is the WORST WAY to encourage fundraising among young children.  Every day, all day, children observe the world around them, they take notes, they listen, they learn.  We are constantly in the position of teacher in everything that we do. What are we teaching?

It is nice to see that QSP includes some "Fundraising Safety Tips"
Do Not sell to strangers.
PARENTS: please always supervise your child's sales activities.
We suggest only sales to relative, friends, and co-workers, not door-to-door.
So let me get this fundraising marketing strategy right.
Step1: Get kids all hyped up on prizes.
Step2: Send them home
Step3: Parents exploit relatives & co-workers to buy things they would not normally buy
Step4: Give out colourful junk as prizes
Step5: Everybody wins ????
It is a good thing we don't have to pay sales associates, see we got this plan to get kids to do it for us.

Oh I forgot to tell you what the 3rd part of the triple play was - "Go to send 12 email to family & friends and earn a fun colour changing light-up pen" - THIS IS CALLED SPAM !!!  What are you teaching kids?  We work hard educating our children not to give out personal information like names and email address to websites and now you tell them to give out others' information to get a fricken PEN!

What frustrates me is the support of this by the education system.  The students had a big assembly talking about all the cool stuff they can win and how to get it.  Now I get to spend the next few weeks explaining to our kids that we are not buying magazines, we are not selling magazines and they will not be getting any prizes from this nice shiny flyer.  We even tried recycle these papers immediately when they got home. However, the allure and attractiveness of them caused them to be retrieved from the recycling box so they can look at them.

I understand that schools need money, but can we approach this in a more mature way and stop promising young children colourful prizes if they (read their parents) go out and peddle someone else's wares!

Here are examples of what I believe are more responsible fundraising activities that I would expect to see from schools:

  1. Older students can help clean up community or private properties.  In the fall there is tremendous amounts of yard work that can be done.  You know what the incentive are?  Doing a good job, pride in workmanship, working as a team.
  2. Younger students put on specific fundraising concerts for parents / grandparents.  Incentives for students are making people smile.  I can guarantee I would buy a $10 ticket to watch my child perform before I would buy a garbage magazine so they can get a key chain monkey.  
Explain to families that these things are done in place of other activities and I am sure you will find buy in. If others have ideas please put them in comments.  We have to get past these material incentives for children to encourage material spending on magazines that would never have been purchased otherwise.  The education system should be teaching children the skills they need to be successful and happy in the world. If teaching that materialism is the only way to fundraise for school activities then we have gone so far down the wrong path I am not sure the right one is even in sight.

I expect more from my education system!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Laminate Floor in Basement

We originally wanted to install carpet in the basement to make it warm and cosy.  However, I can't install carpet.  This means that the price of carpet is double what the sticker price says per square foot.  Laminate flooring I can install myself so that cuts the price in half, and we found this floor for less than a dollar a square foot.  This made the floor much more affordable, the laminate flooring we picked was Kaindl 10mm Lisbon Maple. This is what we are looking at now.

We are very happy with the way it turned out.  The dark floor completes the look we were going for.  I should mention that this is in the basement so we put down a dri-core sub floor and then a cork under pad with a vapour barrier before the laminate when down.  This should provide significant protection from the concrete floor in terms of temperature and moisture. I have a bit more work to do in the closet and the built in toy shelves.  Hopefully in a few months we can work on some trim and baseboards.

The above picture is the hallway leading from the office to the main part of the basement.  The stairs coming down are just to the left.  I thought it might be fun to remind everyone how things look before we got started.

I am thinking that we have some improvement, the kids are very excited to bring the TV and the Wii back downstairs.  I need to remember to schedule the final electrical inspection this week.

Thanks for following this project.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

New Bathroom is finished!

Busy weekend around here that go all the doors painted 2 coats of white and all the door knobs installed and a second coat of paint on the walls. The white doors helped the contrast with the wall colour which we were getting worried was a little too light, so on our second coat on the walls we darkened it by 25%. The lesson here is to trust you wife when it comes to the colours as it will all work out in the end. I also connected all the outlets and put all the covers on, so all the electrical is finished.

I am mostly excited about my new bathroom.  It is always nice when you work on all the rough in stuff get the drywall up, paint it all realise that everything is where it needs to be.  Well almost.

This bathroom is a long story that begins with the flange in the floor for the toilet.  I wanted to get a proper one that sat on the outside of the pipe coming up from the ground.  The guy at home depot told me that I would need to bust up the concrete around the pipe, which sounded fun to me.  The problem was that the dri-core sub-floor was finished a little too nicely around the pipe so I had to bust that out a bit first.  Then slowly I broke out enough concrete to believe that I would be able to get the flange in place. I cut the pipe flush with the dri-core as it was all glued in place and the walls were build on top.  I installed my laminate floor and tried to dry fit the flange only to discover that it was 1/2 off the floor.  This of course would put my toilet hovering off the floor.  So I took everything apart and cut up a few pieces of ply wood, nailed them to the dri-core and then put down my underpad and laminate again.  This time it was perfect. I went to put in my toilet only to discover that my water supply tap ended up directly behind the toilet.  Oops.  This prevented the toilet from fitting in.  So I turned the water off again, took apart the supply and cut as much off as I dared to and put it all back together.  The toilet just fits with a hair length of space between the supply shut off and the toilet (at least I am not wasting any space).  The end result is pretty nice.

Our biggest problem now is that we have hit our predetermined budget cap and we don't have a floor, ceiling or the trim and baseboards.  We are now looking around for a cheap carpet and installer as I have no idea how to install carpet.  So if anyone knows where I could find something please let me know.  We figure we will put in the carpet and then go through a "budget recovery" period before we finish off the rest.

Well that is how far we are it is really looking lit we may actually pull this off.  Our next challenge is the carpet once that is installed I will put up some more pictures.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Basement reno has paint!

We have finished painted the main areas of the basement and I have finished all the lights and outlets.  My brother was wondering where I was at so I thought I write up another post.

These are the steps leading down into the basement.  The colour is a light taupe, I wish that I would have taken earlier pictures of this area because this wall looks way better then it did before.  It being the basement, many things have gone up and down these stairs and these walls had the marks to show for it.

Turn the corner at the bottom of the stairs and you can see the lights, the camera didn't do so well with the bright lights but you get the idea.  I still am not quite sure how I am going to finish off the ceiling, but we will tackle that later.

This is the main area of the basement with the toy area on the left and the TV area on the right.  The toy area has to pot lights in the ceiling and the TV area has 4 pot lights and 4 wall sconces on different switches.  The sconces are dimmable to provide better movie watching lighting.

After all the paint was on the walls (and going back to fix a few spots) I give my mudding sanding a B+.  A few spots I wish were better but over all I am happy with the job.The next big challenge will be working out all the fixtures in the bathroom.  We have all the pieces I just need to put them all together (and make sure they don't leak).

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Basement Renovation Update

It has been a few weeks now and I thought I would give a bit of an update on the basement renovations.  Sometimes I am excited on how far I am and other times I get frustrated that there is so much more to get done.  I have all the drywall up and the taping is done as well as the first coat of mud (well almost).

This is the hallway from the bottom of the steps towards the rest of the basement.  There will be 2 wall sconces and an outlet along the right hand wall.  The left wall there is a door to the space under the steps for storage and the pocket door leading into the furnace room.

The picture on the left will be an off season storage closet mainly for winter coats, hats and mitts.  A mistake that we wanted to avoid was maxing out the living space but forgetting about storage.  We are hoping we won't have to dig through piles of junk to find the "sandals box" next spring.  We are thinking about putting 2 bars across the back end (one high and one low) for coats and stuff.  The space in front can be buckets for other stuff.

The picture on the right is what the bathroom looks like now.  Not too exciting just yet but we have a bit more work to get done there.  I did successfully punch a hole out of the side of the house for the ceiling fan in the bathroom. The fan/light combo that we bought is all wired up and the vent is securely connected.  Now just to get the rest finished off so I can liven up those circuits.

The left picture is the area where we plan to have all the toys for the kids.  My dad and I built in the toy shelves to maximize the space we had available.  The shelves are probably my favorite part so far.

On the right is the space for the television and the couch. We are also planning on purchasing one of the electric fire places to go against the far wall beside the electrical panel.  The electrical panel is covered by the tiny closet in the back right of this picture.

Well that is it for now.  I am guessing the next update will be when we have some paint on the walls.  I have some hours of mudding and sanding before we get to that.  I am probably not the best at that part of the project but I am stubborn enough to see it through.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Todd Cowan can Read the Minds of Woolwich Residents

The casino debate rages on and I want to continue to encourage people to contact their municipal governments in Kitchener, Waterloo and Woolwich as well as their local MPs and the Premier.  If you have an open letter that you want me to post here please contact me.  Premier Kathleen Wynne has stated that Casinos will not be built in municipalities that do not want them.  From the debates that have gone on in our region I can still confidently say that the majority of residents DO NOT WANT a casino in this region.   The majority of respondents to the Woolwich survey (60%+) said they do not want a casino.  Most of the delegations that have been presented at Kitchener city council has been against a casino and from the evidence that I have read Waterloo is in the same boat.

Ken Seiling the Regional Chair of Waterloo Region says that he feels compelled to bring the issue to a vote in Regional Council because of the pressure put on him by residents.  The majority of people are getting frustrated by the continued conversations that keep saying the same things.  Those who are in favour of a casino development stand to directly profit from the development. Compound this with Mayor Cowan's proclaimed ability to know what everyone who is not voicing an opinion wants.  Mayor Cowan has said repeatedly that the "vocal minority" doesn't speak for all of Woolwich. 
"Definitely in cases when you have something like this, you hear the vocal minority," Cowan told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Thursday. "I don't think at this point, we'll be reconsidering our decision," he said. 
So according to his logic the people who are the "silent majority" really want a casino.  They want one so bad that they can't be bothered to come by and say so OR maybe they DON'T want a casino and feel that there concerns have already been voiced by others compound that with the fact Cowan doesn't seem to care any how.  This crazy logic by Cowan enrages me.  How can you be a politician and NOT listen to what your constituents are telling you? This is some serious crazy logic.  You are an elected official that means the will of the people.  Not, well you see I want this so I will find a bunch of people who aren't talking and just pretend they support me!

As a society and as a region we will not profit.  The net jobs gained will be nill, the pay-off will go directly to funding the problems it causes and we have no control over what OLG will decide next.

I know that the mayor of a small municipality is not a glorious job and it probably doesn't pay well, but there must be someone who can do a better job of it then Cowan.  If your interested the candidate registration opens on January 6, 2014 and ends on September 8 and the 2014 municipal elections in Ontario, will be held on October 27, 2014.  If I had any idea about anything in municipal politics I would consider running myself.  I just hope that a strong community leader comes out of the wood work because this current council is not workable.

You have a listen to this Mayor and tell me what you think?  He talks about the fact of having a low taxation rate but then complains about infrastructure deficit.  He laughs when the question of revenue sharing is discussed pretending that the effects of a casino stop at the border. He compares a casino to going to a Maple leafs game.  Sorry Mr. Cowan you do not inspire confidence.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Basement Renovations

This past week my Dad came down and we worked in my basement. We want to create more finished space so that the kids can have a play room that doesn't need to be kept perfectly clean.  The images below are what my basement looked like a few weeks before he came.

As with all basements it was a drop place for all kinds of stuff.  Every once in a while we push the junk back to make some sort of playing area for the kids.  This was already a reduced amount from when we first moved in.  So I started by taking a lot of stuff to the thrift store and getting rid of broken toys and other things to the garbage.  So a few weeks of sorting and relocating all this stuff this is what the basement looked like when dad arrived.

We purchased a vanity and a toilet to help us figure out the framing and spacing for the bathroom.  With this as a clean slate and 4 or 5 trips to Home Depot we were able to frame out the entire basement.  We put in a furnace / utility room, an off season cloths closet, a bathroom, small play area and a television room.  It was the best use of space we could come up with.  I am currently working on putting in the electrical but this is what it looked like after my dad left.

I am running all the wires now and then I will be getting an electrical inspection.  Not much to show until the drywall is up so that will be a few weeks yet.  The next big adventure will be putting in a fan in the bathroom and figuring out some way of venting it to the outside.  Punching holes through outside walls is always an adventure.

Well that is what I have been up to this week.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Waterloo, Kitchener, Woolwich and Casinos from the twitterverse

I wanted to post a collection of tweets from the last 24hours dealing with casino debates occurring across the province. Some are local some are not but a casino has the same stripes regardless of where it lives.

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Taste of a Casino-LESS Woolwich

This evening my family and I attended "A Taste of Woolwich" at Breslau Mennonite Church.  It was a great evening celebrating all the local food and local food initiatives that come from the Township of Woolwich.  the event made me feel proud to be a member of this community.  All the people were very friendly and very proud of the products that they produced.

The evening started at 5:00pm, we arrived a little after 6:00pm where the kids had a chance to make Friendship bracelets with representatives from the 4-H club.  After that we attended a very informative seminar on getting your children, no matter what age, involved in food preparation.  Children need to be taught about where food comes from and to respect those that produce our food.  The speaker discussed activities that children could be involved in from the age of 3 all the way up to 12+ years old.  There is opportunity for learning about food as well as supporting ideas presented in school (two quarter cups equals on half cup).

Next we toured around the food vendors in the gymnasium.  The first vendor gave us samples of tortilla chips and talked about Bailey's Local Foods, which happens to be local food buying club that we are already members.  There were a variety of other vendors selling fresh meats, cheeses preserves and many other wonderful products all produced locally.

After we purchased a few things including a nice wedge of Dutch gouda cheese we went to a kids activity area where the kids made flower pots from used tin cans.  They decorated the cans and planted pansies in them.  They had a great time with the volunteers in the room who were extremely friendly and very helpful and patient I might add.  After they were done their flower pots they had a chance to look at an interesting map that explained how far certain fruits need to travel to get to our plate.  They talked about pineapples, kiwis, strawberries, oranges, grapes and bananas.  They learned that kiwi was the fruit that travelled the longest distance, all the way from New Zealand.

This event appealed to my wife and I because of the power and significant impact that food has on our lives. We need to continue to make decisions both in our own lives and in our governments decisions that support sustainable food development.  We have to take responsibility for our lives and the way we choose to live.  Continuing to push out urban sprawl and eliminating our farm land puts us at significant risk of severely inhibiting the thriving local food markets that exist in Woolwich.  Cities need farmers and farmers need cities.  Urban and rural need to work together for sustainability.  A lesson which I hope we don't learn too late.

The last point in that I would like to make is to my township's elected officials.  This event further emphasized the ridiculousness of your decision to move forward with a casino in Woolwich.  The idea is so extremely counter to the culture in which we live here in this township that I wonder what virtual reality you live in that you think we need or want a casino.  You have voted for something to be built in this area, something that does not fit and you will probably not even see a dime for it.  OLG doesn't want to be in Woolwich, they want to be in Kitchener or Waterloo and you now have provided them the leverage that they need.  Please don't be a pawn in a high stakes game that you shouldn't even be at the table for.  Go out into your township and celebrate the local food and the local culture don't bring in the glitz and glamour of a big city casino.  We have so much local glamour that your vision of Vegas in Woolwich is laughable. We are a widespread rural farm based township.  Please figure that out soon before you launch this region into a project that your constituents want nothing to do with.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Open Letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne, by Clint Rohr

Below is a letter that I received from Clint Rohr, he is a member of the Woolwich Concerned Citizens Against Gambling Expansion group.  If you share in these views please write a similar letter to our premier. You can send your comments to  I would like to take a moment to suggest that you write a letter with substance and sincerity like Clint has below. You can also check out

Thanks for your support.



From: Clint Rohr,
Member of Woolwich Concerned Citizens Against Gambling Expansion
April 6, 2013

Premier Kathleen Wynne,
Parliament Buildings,  Toronto, Ont.

Dear Premier Wynne:
I am writing to express my concern regarding the impact OLG’s Modernization Plan has on the citizens of Woolwich Township, as well as the Region of Waterloo.   My two primary concerns are the community consultation process expected by OLG and the implications of a lower tier municipality governed by five elected officials having the right to make a decision that will impact in excess of 500,000 Regional residents.  My request is that you put an immediate freeze on all pending and future applications, plus  create legislation that requires municipalities to hold referendums on the question prior to any approvals by OLG. Here is what is happening in our Region and a zone that already has slots at Grand River Raceway.

On March 5, 2013, Woolwich Mayor and three of four councilors voted in favor of submitting an application to OLG to become a host community.  They did this in spite of 62% of 1866 respondents voting “NO” to a questionnaire sent out in November, 2012.  The opportunity for citizens to respond to a biased questionnaire in favor of a casino was flawed in many ways.  Only one, mailed as flyer,  was sent to each household, irrespective as to how many adults were in the home. Many did not receive them in the mail. Expected response time was less than three weeks, with a deadline being  Dec. 21 during the busy Christmas season. A significant population of rural Mennonites, whose faith discourages them from involvements of this nature, was minimized.

At the three Public Meetings, community members spoke at least 5-1 against having a casino.  When the Mayor was challenged that he and council members were not listening to the public response that came via the questionnaire, he in effect said the questionnaire was of minimal importance.  This, he said, after informing us at the Nov. 20, 2012  OLG presentation meeting that “transparency and public consultation” were high priorities.  In addition, the Regional Medical Officer of Health presented, noting the negative consequences of gambling, as well as the increased risks that come when it is more accessible.  Research from the Ontario Problem Gambling Research was presented high lighting the negative consequences, plus information indicating the same from a psychiatrist who formerly headed addictions at Homewood in Guelph.  Regional politicians directly and indirectly cautioned our elected leaders on the issue.  Yet, they voted “yes”. Although our Mayor and three of the four councilors are first term inexperienced elected officials, one would reasonably conclude we citizens could expect more from them on a multi-faceted issue of this magnitude.  When OLG requires community consultation as part of the application process, it has to mean it will be taken seriously as part of the application process.  Anything less is a mockery of the whole process.  It is my opinion, the low value placed on public consultation negates and makes invalid the Woolwich application.

Equally critical is the issue of Woolwich being a lower tier municipality within the Region of Waterloo. Imagine, a council of five making a decision that not only impacts Woolwich 23,000 plus residents, but all 500, 000 plus citizens within Waterloo Region. How can this be allowed?  Our Region is becoming more and more integrated and we citizens are experiencing better services as a result of it. Until Woolwich made their decision there was little interest in having a casino in the Region.  Now the two cities, Kitchener and Waterloo  (Cambridge, as well as Wilmot, had already said “no”)  have to seriously reconsider the question because they know there will be a range of costs that comes with casino they will have to bare.  They rightly ask, “Why should we foot these costs and Woolwich be the benefactor?”  OLG must realize this might happen within a two tiered municipality such as ours.

Pitting municipalities against one another cannot be tolerated. Having been a community builder for years I vouch for the hard work it takes in creating healthy communities, productive and creative communities, supportive and sustainable communities. Yet, it only takes a single poor decision that doesn’t look at the whole picture to have these efforts crumble.  Right now, before we even get close to final approvals in the OLG application process, we in Woolwich and in the Region of Waterloo are struggling and trying to deal with the negative fall out of the Woolwich decision.

Madam Premier we need your help immediately on two fronts. We need you to implement an immediate freeze on all pending and future applications by municipalities to become “host communities” for OLG.  The second desperate need is for you and the house to create legislation requiring all municipalities, considering a casino, to have the question on the ballot at the next municipal election.  There also needs to be clarity that those in regions with lower tier municipalities default to the regional governments.  Of course OLG, as a responsible government agency, will also need to adjust their “modernization plan” to accommodate this.  Most of us can handle the democratic process when it is rolled out with integrity.

I thank you for your attention, respectfully,

Clint Rohr

c.c. Rod Phillips, CEO of  OLG

Clint Rohr is the retired Executive Director of Woolwich Community Health Centre, St. Jacobs, and formerly held positions as CAO of Lutherwood Children’s Mental Health Centre, Waterloo; Coordinating Chaplain at West Park Hospital, Toronto; Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Oakville; Exec. Director of Grace House in Oakville, and Pastor at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Halifax.

Ontario Municipal Board(OMB) wants more Urban Sprawl in Kitchener-Waterloo

I would like to start off by thanking everyone who strolls past my blog and hopefully gets something out of it.  This post will push me past 1000 page views, more then I thought I would have after 20 posts. Thanks for taking the time to read.

This past week we learned that the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) over turned the Region’s smart-growth planning policies.  This was reported by Sustainable Waterloo Region.
"The recent decision by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to overturn the Region of Waterloo’s smart-growth planning policies has put our community at an important crossroad: to continue supporting an increase in urban intensification or to repeat the failed policies of the past and allow the expansion of outlying suburbs. The OMB decision to open 2,593 acres of previously protected farmland for suburban development limits the economic, social and environmental potential of Waterloo Region. Sustainable Waterloo Region recommends that the Government of Ontario support the Region of Waterloo’s smart-growth planning policies to strengthen our community."
The idea that we have to make future planning decisions based on past events really frustrates me. We have to work to preserve the farmland that surrounds our region and continue to intensify the land we have already covered up.

Our Region is amazing and we have amazing minds and amazing people. The Intelligent Community Forum has named Mike Lazaridis as 2013 Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year.  Mr Lazaridis has been a leader in our community for a long time and we have many other visionaries and leader here in our region.  It is our responsibility to other communities to lead the way in sustainable development for the future.  This is how and why the Region of Waterloo developed the smart-growth planning policies in the first place.  The OMB is dead wrong here and we need to tell the OMB that they need to start learning from us instead of trying to block us.

We have a culture of high thinking and global impact yet 2 of our government run organizations, the OLG and the OMB want to put us back.  I have been a staunch liberal supporter for a long time but this next provincial election my vote may not continue with this current government until they start looking past the length of their noses and start seeing the sustainable future that we and all of our children will require.

Do you support OMB sprawling growth plans? So you support revenue gains from casinos? I support those who produce our food!  I support sustainable methods of revenue collection that do not harm those who need our help! We have to stop this short term thinking and look to the future and believe that we can accomplish it now.  We are an amazing and brilliant community let us bloom and flourish!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Waterloo Region Casino - Fact

This week in the news we learned that Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin have created a $100 million fund development and commercialization of quantum computing.
“This combination of technology and business experience has given us a unique understanding and deep commitment that we believe will be instrumental to the success of both this fund and the ‘Quantum Valley’,” Lazaridis said.
I mention this story to further support that my view of the Waterloo Region is one of innovation  progress and world wide impact.  We have a proven track record of this and my view of our future is more of the same.  I believe that investing in casino and other gaming properties is a major step back for our region.  The success in our region will be measured by our impact on the world.

Another story this week was that the chair and CEO of the lottery corporation attended a meeting with  Premier Kathleen Wynne.  This meeting was called because the Premier wanted to ensure that all host municipalities were treated the same in the funding formula.  This is a result of the rumors that the Toronto casino location was not being treated fairly and they were being offered more money and compensation then other potential hosts.  The big problem here for me was that it appears that the OLG is willing to change whatever rules that it needs to to get into whatever market it wants.  On top of that what happens when the OLG decided to change the funding formula in the future.  Right when the Region becomes dependent on it, I don't trust the OLG.  This meeting with the Premier does not speak to a trustworthy corporation.

This is not just any corporation this is a government corporation that has revenues of 6.7 billion in 2011 according to Problem's Facts About document.  The document also states that Ontario had the highest total government operated gaming revenue in Canada.  This is a major corporation and it should strive to be trustworthy and transparent.  The other truth about this and the fact that OLG is massively expanding throughout Ontario is that the Ontario Government, regardless of the political stripes of the Premier, is very much hooked on gaming revenue.  One might even say addicted to it.

It is a scary thought to know that the success of your province is rooted in how much money it can swindle out of its own people.  Does anyone else see a problem with that?

The next steps for Woolwich, providing that the other municipalities don't get involved, is to select location and attempt to woo private operators to work out a deal to set up a casino.  The two location that they have selected are very close to other municipalities and as far away from their own council chambers as possible.  So I understand that both Kitchener and Waterloo want to figure out what is going on and get their hands on the host compensation.  I believe that both municipalities still do not want to have a casino in this region they have a right to the compensation considering both locations are only a few kilometers out of their borders.

We have a responsibility to continue to speak out against this development and help brainstorm ideas that will lead to sustainable change and future progress.

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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Difference between Holland and the Netherlands

Here is where I have to admit that, despite a solid Dutch heritage, I know very little about the Netherlands.  I am a second generation immigrant which means my parents were born in Canada but my grandparents were born in the Netherlands. Friends often ask me "What is the difference between Holland and the Netherlands?"  I have never really had a good answer for them until now because I didn't really know the answer myself. I would like to thank CGPGrey for a very informative video.  I know that I learn a lot.

I have always felt that we go about education in a very strange way where we have a teacher that stands in front of a bunch of students and talks to them.  After a certain period of time we take all of those students and then we ask them questions to see how much of the talking they have retained.  Based on the amount of retention we give them a score or grade.  The higher this retention the more "successful" the student is.

I like CGP Grey's videos as they approach education with visuals and other academic tools to try and improve retention. Being on youtube also allows you to watch the same thing over and over at your own pace.

He has a bunch more informative videos including How to Become Pope and The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Power to change the world?

Do you ever have that desire to go out there and make a change that inspires people?  Do you want to remove barriers to change the world?  The problem is that you have to get out of bed first.

I often have these ideas about making positive change but I often lack the enthusiasm to get started on them. As you can tell from my blog I am trying to share my views on the casino debate currently occurring in Waterloo Region.  I am trying to maintain the enthusiasm that I have to make, what I feel, is a positive change.  I guess it is more preventing a negative one. The region was not in favour of a casino development in the past but now that Woolwich township has agreed to invite the Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation (OLG) into the region, the City of Kitchener and the City of Waterloo now will be debating these ideas in their respective councils.  So Woolwich opened the can of worms and now everyone is looking over their shoulder to get a look to see what's happening.

I believe the Waterloo Region is a leader in many initiatives in technology, education, local food production / distribution and social / restorative justice. A casino as a way to improve economic conditions is way off base.

So I decided to step it up a notch and I have created a facebook page to see what support an "anti-casino" movement may have.  The difficulty with municipal politics is that no one really knows what is going on.  I am hoping that I can help keep people informed and they can keep me up to date as well.  The power of a group of like minded individuals can be overwhelming. I have not really spent the time to expand my social networks beyond a close friend group so it is now up to you to help me share this page.

Democracy only works when you get out of bed and make things happen.


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Woolwich #FAIL

This is just a quick update from the Township Council meeting.  As if the conclusions were already foretold the Council voted 4 - 1 in favour of moving forward with a casino.

Mayor Todd Cowan and councillors Bonnie Bryant, Julie-Anne Herteis and Allan Poffenroth voted in favour, with only Mark Bauman voting against.  I don't know what to say I am at a loss on how these people can ignore all the evidence that is present and only see $$ in their eyes.  Reminds me of a cartoon with a tragic end.  It is interesting to note that Mr. Bauman is the only returning councillor to this years council and I predict will be the only councillor to be returning after this year.  The 2014 municipal elections in Ontario, will be held on October 27, 2014. The Candidate registration opens on January 6, 2014 and ends on September 8.

I will be looking into what option are still available for people to oppose this project.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Casino Decision Day

Today is March 5, 2013 and tonight the Council in Woolwich Township will vote on whether to continue discussion with OLG to build a casino in the township.  Todd Cowan believes that Woolwich has the independent right to approve this project and build it so close to Kitchener and Waterloo without consulting them.  On top of that he feels that the township is entitled to all the profits with no regard for the social implications it will have on neighbourhoods in Kitchener or Waterloo or anywhere else in the Region of Waterloo. The proposed locations for this are either at the St. Jacobs stockyards (border with Waterloo) or at a property at 2069 Shantz Station Road (border with Kitchener).  Both locations closer to KW then Elmira.  This is like saying hey liver your screwed because I am going to go out party all the time I will have fun but you won't in 10 years but really your not my concern right now and I am just going to ignore you until you become someone else problem.

It is shocking to me to understand that this significant decision could possibly be approved by 5 people.  The Region of Waterloo forever changed because 5 people didn't do what the people wanted.  To add to this complicated situation, this Council is not know for is fiscal restraint.  In a time of tighter budgets they can't keep their own house in order.  Why would I want to give them more money to waist.  Do not believe for a moment that once they start raking in 4 million dollars they will instantly become financially prudent!

According to this article Mayor Cowan does not feel that the survey results of 62% opposed to the casino are valid.  I understand that only 11% of eligible voters voted but you only mailed one card per household and you mailed it during the Christmas holidays. Had someone else not brought it to my attention I would not have looked in my recycling box to find it.  It is like you only wanted 11% to vote just so you could discount them.  Let's also consider that only 26% of eligible voters made it out to the last municipal election in Woolwich which is a highly publicized even that occurs across the entire province on the same day.  I will remind you Mayor Cowan only 2777 people voted for you in the last election.

Many experts and highly qualified people have spoken to Woolwich council. The allure of free money has led many people astray.  I hope that these Councillors can see that nothing is for free.  My big concern right now is who is pulling these Councillors strings to approve this project?  What is in it for them personally?  I don't know.  What I know is that they asked the people of Woolwich and the people of Woolwich have said "No" to gambling establishments in the past, and they are saying "No" again now.  If anyone could show me any evidence at all that the people in Woolwich and the Waterloo region wanted a casino, I would withdraw my criticism of this project and let the majority decide.  I believe very strongly that this is not the case.

Some people argue that opposing this project means we are restricting peoples freedom and why should we stop at a casino we should ban alcohol, tobacco, lotteries, etc.  This is not why I oppose this project.  I oppose this project because this Region doesn't want it.  I oppose this project because it is not sustainable.  The money that people will use for entertainment is not currently hiding under their mattresses.  Money isn't magically created by bringing in a casino.  It is reallocated from the bowling alley, from the corner store, from the grocery store.  If you think a casino is good for business you are very misguided.  A casino is only good for its own business and everything it contains under its roof.  Everyone else looses.  So if you own a business in Waterloo Region you don't want this either.  Casinos don't bring tourist dollars into the region they fly in they gamble at the casino and fly out.  What makes you think they will come here instead of Hamilton or the GTA (also undergoing casino debate) ?

If you want to make your voice heard I would encourage all of the Waterloo region to email these Councillors and tell them if you think this casino in Woolwhich Township bordering on either Kitchener or Waterloo is a good idea.  If you support this project by all means let them know all of their email addresses are (tcowan, apoffenroth, jaherteis, mbauman, bbryant).  I suspect that an overwhelming majority of this region do not support this development.  I will be the first to say I was wrong if this is not the case.

You have a choice you can be a part of the "silent majority" that Mayor Cowan believes is in support of this casino or you can be a part of the vocal majority that does not support this development.  This is a democracy and your opinion matters!  Be heard!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Truly Inspirational - To This Day Project

The last little while I have been talking about how uninspiring I feel the idea of building a casino in my township is.  The argument that this helps us build and maintain our township is disappointing to me.  I thought that I would dedicate this post to showing you what is truly inspiring.  A friend of mine shared the video below on facebook and it moved me to make a post about it.  We all need to be aware of how our actions affect others and how others can affect us.

The To This Day Project is a project based on a spoken word poem written by Shane Koyczan called “To This Day”, to understand impact that bullying can have on an individual.

Shane Koyczan maintains a facebook page and a personal web site.  Shane speaks out against bullying and its long lasting effects.

“Don’t let your luggage define your travels, each life unravels differently.”

{ Shane Koyczan }

This is an amazing video with a happy and strong ending that you need to see for yourself.  Watch it here or on YouTube at!

If you want inspiration this is what it is made of.  We have no choice but to react to this by becoming better people.

This project was picked up and promoted by  We all have a responsibility to share and distribute this message as widely as we can.

Thanks for reading and take a moment to share this message how you see fit.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

An Open Letter to Woolwich Township Council

February 20, 2013
Dear: Todd Cowan, Julie - Anne Herteis, Allan Poffenroth, Mark Bauman, Bonnie Bryant

I am a resident of Breslau and the Township of Woolwich. Before you is a decision that concerns me as a resident of this township. On March 5, 2013 you will be voting on a motion whether to pursue the construction of a casino within the township. This proposed casino will bring up to an estimated $4 million dollars a year to the township. I have one simple question that I would like you to consider.

How many lives are you comfortable with destroying for 4 million dollars?
1, 2 maybe less than 10?

It is well documented that proximity to casinos will increase problem gambling.  Dr. Liana Nolan who is the Medical officer of Health for our region has stated this fact. I know and understand that most people who use casinos are not problem gamblers and enjoy the recreational activities of gambling. Gambling can be fun and exciting for many people. Those people are not who I am talking about. I am asking you if you are comfortable introducing even one person to gambling that may never have experienced it if it was not built in this township? Ms. Snyder is correct by saying “The Township of Woolwich is a business, it’s a corporation, it’s not a church, and they shouldn't be telling constituents what their values should be.”  I am asking you what are your values?  What do you stand for?

I am not comfortable with even one person experiencing the loss and devastation of an addiction.  I would never feel comfortable making a decision that knowingly will lead to this end.  I am asking you to vote against this proposal. I would argue that since Waterloo Region’s six other municipalities have said no to a casino they must feel the same way. To make matters worse for me you state a potential location as Shantz Station Road in Breslau. Are you trying to position this building as far away from Elmira as possible? The Ontario Lottery and Gaming corporation does not want to help out Woolwich. They want to make money off of your tax payers. If they have enough excess to pay us $4 million how much do they take?

The Region of Waterloo is an inspirational region that has changed the world and will continue to do so. I want Woolwich to be inspirational. You say gambling is just down the road in Elora and “it’s not like we’re introducing something new.”  This is your reason for making this massive decision to build a large scale casino.  I want you to create something new, inspire me and the future generations that come after me.  Be something.  Be inspiring.

Thank you for your time,

Matthew VanderMeer

Woolwich Casino in the news - CTV

Woolwich Casino in the news - The Record

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Community Impact Analysis - My thoughts

The Community Impact Analysis - Proposed Gaming Facility in Woolwich Township report put together by David Brenneman and the Senior Management Team (SMT) of the Township of Woolwich was released.  The following is the recommendation from that report.
THAT Council, following consideration of the information, input and analysis outlined in the attached Report A01-2013, provide direction to Staff as to whether the Township should proceed to advise the Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation as follows: 
"That the Township of Woolwich agrees to be a willing host for a new gaming facility"
AND THAT should Council support being a host community, that council provide direction to staff as to whether it wishes to attach any conditions of approval to this agreement.
To start of my thoughts on this recommendation I would like to commend the staff who worked on this report as it is quite thorough and contains many details that I find interesting.  You can read the full report on your own if you would like.

First quick read through the report I found 51 instances of the word "potential" and "might/may/usually" combined for 26 times.  I understand that we need to be cautious as you move forward on something but this didn't instill confidence in me.  To complete this word count perspective the word "problem" shows up 61 times.

The best part of the report is where they talk about the public input that they received through the "Green Card initiative" that I explained in an earlier post. The result of that green card was that 11% (1954) responded with 62% (1159) stating that they were not in favour of moving forward with a casino in Woolwich. (p.41) This part of the report kind of contradicted something they wrote a bit later:
With the growth and change in demographics, the makeup of the broader Woolwich community has evolved, and there appears to be a much greater willingness to explore and consider the community infrastructure benefits that could be derived from the establishment of a casino. (p.40)
If 38% of respondents is a "greater willingness" then I would hate to see what it was before. Of course I am not very happy with an 11% response rate from the target community.  I would have appreciated that more resources spent to gain a better understanding of the communities opinion of this casino.  If this response can be somewhat similar to that last municipal election that put this current Council in place (36% - 6089) I would feel much more comfortable with it.  However, 2/3 of the people who could actually find that card voiced their opposition so that should count for something.  The Council should have given this initiative more resources and awareness.

The main purpose for putting a casino in Woolwich is for revenue.
It is estimated that the Township of Woolwich could receive $4 million per year or more in gaming revenue. (p.26)
Now this statement combined with another one later in the report gave me a bit of a pause.
With time participation rates go down because the novelty has worn off, and the populations familiarity with the product (and potentially adverse experience) helps inoculate them from further harms. (p.30)
So does this mean our coveted estimated $4 million could be less as time goes on as we become more dependent on this income?

Does Woolwich have a need for an additional $4 million? Can someone explain how we got in such a state that this is what is needed to fix it?
To put this in perspective, this level of additional funding would equate to a 40% increase to the Township's Capital Budget, or alternatively the Township would need to approve a 52% increase to the tax rates to raise an equivalent amount through property taxes. (p.26)
What happens when we become dependent on this unbelievable increase in our capital budget and then the OLG changes the rules and we lose everything?  If you think that this can't happen you should go talk to the Centre Wellington folks and ask them.  This type of monetary only increase is not going to help in the long term economic sustainability of the Township of Woolwich.  We have to focus on sustainable growth and development that provides Woolwich with a unique identity.  Give people a reason to come to Woolwich to be inspired and to invest in our future.  We exist on the edge of Waterloo the most innovated community in Canada and we want to put up a casino because we are so unimaginative that we can't do better.

My big problem is that they ask the public for an opinion but do not adequately give us a good reason why the results of that opinion are not valid?  I know that this is just a staff report that the Council needs to read and then vote on.  I hope that the Council does their own homework by talking to people. The next municipal election is scheduled for October 27, 2014. I hope that these Councillors and the Mayor realize that listening to their constituency is the best way to keep their own jobs.  I want a government that inspires me to be a citizen of Woolwich.  This whole process is very uninspiring.

This is the Record article that discusses this report.  The first of 2 public meetings will be tonight February 19, 2013 at 6pm.  The meeting is planned for council chambers in the township office building, 24 Church St. W., in Elmira. If you want to find out more then you can go.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

A little fun with images

So I notice that I rant a bit on this blog so I thought I should post something a little more fun.  Here are some pictures from our office holiday party that I framed up.