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!