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!