Monday, August 17, 2020

A letter to Council concerning the Glass Plant

Having 400 permanent new jobs and a stronger tax base is certainly an attractive story but we just hope that the positives don’t blind us into doing things that are not in our best interests. This facility was looking at utilizing 1.6M litres of water a day in Guelph and it was rejected because they didn’t want to damage their aquifer. Stratford has been told it will take 1.2M litres. We seem to be downplaying the consumption of water which either at 1.6M or 1.2M litres, will be significant. Before pressing forward, the Mayor should explain why doing this in Stratford is acceptable. His comparison of 1.2M litres a day on an average golf course is misleading. One golf course we contacted has a 358,000 litre per day limit (1/3 of what Xinyi will take) and people understand that Ontario golf courses are not watering their lawns 365 days per year.

What will Xinyi Glass’s daily maximum draw and annual maximum draw be? Does the city have the capacity to manage the treatment of the facility's waste water? Has Stratford promised anything special to Xinyi Glass that will be borne by the rate payers? Is the infrastructure related to this facility being covered by Xinyi Glass. Are you providing Xinyi any tax breaks? 

If Xinyi is going to build in Ontario or Canada, let’s make sure it’s done in a responsible way. The company looked at a site in Bath Ontario that we would have thought “checked all the boxes” but they passed it by. Perhaps there was a good reason however water supply, rail, electricity, gas, proximity to the 401 were not a problem, not to mention that the farmland that they would have consumed was scrub land in Bath vs prime land in Stratford. It is important to protect prime agricultural land. Furthermore using surface water from a Great Lake rather than water from an aquifer seems far more logical. We agree with Doug Ford that we should support new business but let’s steward our resources and help get this project located in the spot that makes the most sense for Xinyi and Ontario.

Fresh water is our most valuable natural resource. Many municipalities and countries have a shortage now (California, for example) and we feel if Stratford agrees to this glass plant they will regret it down the road.


Jackie and Tom Collings

(former Perth County Engineer)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Candidates to represent Stratford on the Avon Maitland District School Board

The material below was provided by candidates at the forum last Sunday at the Stratford Public Library.

Laura Bisutti

 Herb Klassen

Malorie Leonetti

Not on social media? No problem! Links to information on Candidates

Good evening,

Know someone who is hoping for more information on candidates? Here are some links. 

I feel it's important that citizens, particularly those who read the Beacon Herald or Marketplace, are aware that an error was made. When requesting submissions from candidates, Andrew Fraser's email was typed incorrectly and he never received the request. I'm glad the Beacon Herald has published the list online this evening, I just wish they'd corrected the error on Friday or Saturday at the latest since Stratford voters began going to the polls on Friday. 

Knowing some friends are not on social media, I'm sending a few links that have been shared on Facebook to help you access information on the candidates. 

The Beacon Herald coverage from last week, now including all candidates:

I understand mistakes are made, I'm disappointed it took so long to address this error:

The Stratford Public Library site with links to information on candidates:

Information on the candidates running to represent Stratford on the Avon Maitland District School Board.

All the best with your deliberations.

Information on Candidates

Stratford Public Library - Resources online

Stratford Beacon Herald

Council Candidates in their own words - republished October 16/18 to include Andrew Fraser who was missed due to a mistake by the Beacon Herald in his email address.

Can you see a difference?

From today's Beacon Herald: 

From Galen Simmons:

While I can appreciate mistakes happen, I find it appalling that during an election when votes are being cast daily, that our newspaper waited until Tuesday to address the error. A correction should have been posted both online and in print in Friday's paper or Saturday's at the latest. Disappointing.

Katia Maxwell for Council

Voting today? You have until October 22nd.
Katia Maxwell has my vote. Throughout the campaign she has continued to impress me with her thoughtful responses and her ability to go beyond hearing the questions posed to hearing the individual.
Many have asked why I decided not to run in this election. This term has been challenging with many major projects but my greatest concern has been with how we engage with our community . In my first term, I don't remember anyone ever being on an agenda with a request to speak to Council who wasn't welcomed. It happened several times this term.
In my view, communication is best when we hear the same message. Welcoming citizens to present helps Council, staff and citizens (in attendance or watching from home) to understand different perspectives and make sense of how decisions unfold.
To change this dynamic, we need to elect individuals who understand the role is of a public servant.
We need knowledgeable, community-focused, open-minded people of character who will represent the constituents and work to make sure City Hall is a place for the people.
Katia Maxwell's insightful questions, welcoming demeanour and commitment to transparency are among many reasons she has my vote.
P.S. You don't have to vote for 10. I am planning to vote for a quorum of new voices at Council.

Stratford's Mayoral Candidates - 2018

Note: Last week, the Beacon Herald published the submissions of two mayoral candidates. The third was reported as not having responded but in fact, the Beacon Herald had made a mistake in the email address and the candidate had not received a request for information. No phone call to check, simply a statement that he did not respond to the Beacon Herald's invitation to submit.
I asked the Beacon to post the three mayoral candidates' submissions online so they could be distributed by interested citizens. I hope they will do so but in the meantime, I've asked the three for their submissions. I've taken pictures of the two that appeared in the Beacon and will update them when I receive them.

Here is additional information on all the Council candidates and the candidates running for the Avon Maitland District School Board. Tina Doherty was acclaimed to represent the Huron Perth District School Board.
Your help spreading the word would be appreciated.

Tom Drake

What you need to know before voting
  1. When a City expropriates land they are required to pay the legal fees for both themselves and the counterparty, as well as interest at a minimum of 6%., and to reimburse the lost opportunity costs of the previous owner. Legal fees related to the Cooper site are passing $20 million. And if Lawrence Ryan wins his appeals, his potential entitlement is more than $100 million.
  2. The existing building on the Cooper site cannot be torn down if the City wishes to rebuild within 200 ft of the railway tracks. There would need to be a berm, meaning this space could not even be used for parking.
  3. The outgoing mayor has had 4 terms in which to solve the Cooper site problem, and has cost the City potentially 2 whole years of revenue. The City’s average expenses for a year is $55 million, so if required to pay compensation of $100 million, taxpayers will be hit with a huge bill.
  4. The City needs to purchase or redeploy a different existing city property for the Community Hub that is in a better location and quicker to build.
  5. Stratford needs to perceive itself as a regional centre and expand its transit services to move people in and out of Stratford in all directions. And we need to address arterial roads across town so that express traffic can miss the downtown core, allowing more space for bicycles and parking.
  6. Planning needs to become more imaginative, and consider building up and filling in. Mini houses, accessory suites, repurposing old factories, taller buildings, apartments in large houses should help alleviate the shortage of rentals and help keep the costs of housing manageable for all ages.
  7. I’m proposing a green energy initiative combined with a boost for local manufacturing industry. I would look at a tax rebate of 25% up to $500 for purchase or installation of green building products made in Stratford. For example, upgrading windows, insulation, heating systems, solar panels, This would send a signal to the manufacturers of these types of products to locate here in Stratford, and be close to a motivated customer base.
  8. Stratford has to utilize its only natural resource – the productive farmland surrounding the city – and attract industries associated with agriculture. This should provide a more stable economic base without the fluctuations of auto parts and the boom and bust of IT.
  9. As a mayor, my job is to ensure that civility and respect in council. This would include more transparency in city business and make sure that the public is aware of each councillors opinion.
During this election campaign, many worthwhile ideas have been put forward by all the candidates and by the public, and if elected, I will be encouraging city staff, council committees, and local interest groups to work together to implement the best Stratford solutions quickly.

Andrew Fraser

Stratford has what it takes to be one of the truly great small cities of the world: we have many of the necessary foundations and a rich history, world-class theatre, a strong agricultural heritage and a robust industrial sector. This is why I chose to make Stratford my home and why I am running for Mayor. We need to redefine the vision we hold of our city to that of the community we desire to live in tomorrow and long into the future.

Stratford is currently carrying a disclosed debt load of close to $60 million, which places a tremendous burden on our city finances. I am a fiscal conservative and as mayor, I will prioritise the implementation of timely, viable solutions to the following issues:

Stratford is in desperate need of a walk-in medical clinic for those without access to a family doctor. I am already speaking with physicians to create a plan to make this a reality.

Public transportation needs creative solutions in order to make transit more efficient and affordable, while meeting the needs of riders better. Extended hours, express routes, and smaller buses are all options to make our transit system more user-friendly, increasing ridership and offsetting costs.  

Affordable housing is a high priority. We need more multi-level buildings, structured plans and detailed supports in place to facilitate the step from rental to home ownership, creating vibrant communities that people are proud to call home.
Our city has need for a multi-use community space with a civic auditorium, where all of Stratford’s residents can congregate and feel engaged by programming and events. This could be created outside of the Cooper site within a reasonable timeframe.

We need to ensure our residential side streets are maintained with safety in mind. Slower speeds and more stop signs, better sidewalk and road maintenance, and designated bicycle lanes would be easy to address quickly.

In my work across Ontario, I have gained many insights into the issues that cities are facing and will bring that knowledge to City Hall. I grew up in Keswick, Ontario a small, seasonal tourist town. I was educated at the University of Toronto, and am currently a licensed real estate and mortgage agent. I have chosen not to be involved in real estate and mortgages in Stratford, instead focusing on this community as the place we call home and raise our three young boys.

Dan Mathieson

I have been a long-standing advocate of Stratford. Having sat on municipal council since 1995, I have been a member of several boards and committees in healthcare, public affairs, law enforcement, sports, non-profits, and universities. I am currently Past Chair of Kings University College at Western University, Chair of the Stratford Police Services Board, Member of the Board of Directors of Festival Hydro and Rhyzome Networks, the Stratford Festival, and the Advisory Board of the University of Waterloo-Stratford Campus among many others.

During my tenure on the municipal council, my priority was to ensure that Stratford can meet the needs of its residents both today and tomorrow. I am proud of my accomplishments in the last few years like establishing the University of Waterloo-Stratford Campus, securing City financial support for building the Stratford Perth Rotary Hospice, developing a high-speed broadband and wifi network to serve residents and businesses, creating partnerships to construct new affordable housing units in Stratford, attracting new investments and employers that have diversified Stratford’s economy, reconstructing Stratford’s Market Square as public gather space, establishing Stratford as a hub for the testing and researching of autonomous vehicles and the expansion and renovation of the Anne Hathaway Day Care Centre. I am glad that these critical initiatives have helped make Stratford an even better place to live and work. This is my motivation and I am committed to continuing this work for the next four years. 
In the coming years, I am dedicated to starting construction on a new Community Hub that includes space for seniors and youth center, a new YMCA, a student life center for the university, and space for cultural and arts programming. I will work on updating and executing the Stratford-Perth 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan and implementing the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan. Another crucial point in my agenda is enhancing Stratford’s economy by providing support for business startups, training for residents, attracting new industries, and expanding available employment lands. In addition to the above point, I will ensure we continue to offer the connect2SKILLS Program to assist those in employment transition to get re-skilled for the jobs of the future. Last but not the least, I will work together with the community stakeholders - citizens, school boards, the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, and mental health and counseling service professionals - to develop and implement a Community Mental Health Strategy.

The Beacon Herald has now published a complete list of candidates.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thought of the Day

It must be a great disappointment to God if we are not dazzled at least ten times a day.
Mary Oliver

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Thought of the Day

Mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.
Nisargadatta Maharaj

Monday, August 20, 2018

Thought of the Day

Adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Thought of the Day

Your heart is the softest place on earth. Take care of it.
Nayyikah Waheed

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Lesson in Consent

The future of the Kiwanis Community Centre, Sue Bonsteel memorial garden, the plaque from St. Bruno-de-Montarville, Lawn Bowling, and Water Street tennis court is uncertain at the moment. In the minds of the majority I have heard from, there is no desire to sacrifice the community space for a new theatre. Stratford has land available for development that could be home to a new theatre in the Cooper Block but their desire is to maintain this community hub at its present location. To the best of my knowledge, the Festival has no interest in developing a new theatre on the Grand Trunk Railway lands, otherwise known as the Cooper Block. And so, it appears, we’re at an impasse. Which, in my world, means a non-starter. In the same way that consent is a basic pre-condition for our interpersonal relationships, a general mandate is necessary for good governance. At this time, I don't think that in this case we have either.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Reflections on Market Square

Thank you to all who have provided input on Market Square.
Here is a link to the proposals put forward to the selection committee.
The online form to submit your input closes at midnight.
Here are two links to Rob Ritz’s plan.
I realize including Rob Ritz’s plan will be disappointing for some. Whether
the selection committee includes it in their review of proposals, it is very much
under consideration by many in our community. My hope is that we can look at the strengths put forward in each proposal
and hear the concerns raised. As I said earlier this week, m hope is that we
remember we are neighbours in a community . The greatest tragedy in this
endeavour would be for us to gain a meeting space but not want to meet.
For what it's worth, a few of my thoughts:
I appreciate the desire for movement on this issue but support the plan for
the core - transit, Cooper Site, parking and Market Square. These need to be
borne in the decision-making of each one.
Skating rink. If we are going to add a skating rink in the core, I would prefer
it be added to the Cooper site in conjunction with a community hub. That being
said, if we need outdoor rinks, I wonder if using sites like Lakeside Drive and/or
other neighbourhood parks might be more effective given their locations.
Sightlines. When I picture events at Market Square, I see visibility for the
audience as a frequent issue. I hope this is kept in mind when designing the
space so that as many people as possible will be able to fully participate by
being able to witness the proceedings.
Operating costs. As plans are made, my hope is that both the operating and
capital costs will be factored in to the final decision. The mention of additional
amenties being required as well as the ongoing discussion around the potential
cinema project at City Hall makes me wonder if the Cooper Site were to become
a community hub, if some offices currently located in City Hall might be better
suited to such a space thereby potentially addressing such a concern.
Transit and parking. I recognize many see transit and parking as non-issues,
I disagree. These help connect many and need to be considered in an overall plan.
My comments are reflective of hundreds of comments and
conversations over the past few years. My hope is that all
who are invested in the decisions to be made on this issue
are able to hear not only the comments raised in the process but appreciate the underlying needs they speak to so that we can come together as a community that strives to create inclusive solutions.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Musings by Howard Famme on Proposed 2016 Budget

2016 Budget Musings

I recently reviewed the audited financial statements for the City of Stratford.

The present council is to be congratulated for the excellent results over the last 4 years wherein the annual surplus for years 2012 - 2014 was  .8 M. , 11.4 M and 3.3 M respectively with an accumulated surplus at December 31, 2014 of 218.6 M.  This has also resulted in reductions of net debt, particularly long-term debenture debt from 86.3M down to 71.1 M being basically 5 M repayment per year.

I am very concerned when I read about budget increases to taxation of 4.1% with some councillors saying that they would be happy with an increase of 3.5%.  Such increases in property taxes are unacceptable.  Inflation in the most recent month has only been at 1.4% annually.

Our present financial situation has arrived at the lofty surpluses because we are at present paying down debenture debt from the past of 5M per annum, purchasing new capital assets of 10 M per annum and building up total reserves for the future of 4 M over the last 4 years.  The present taxpayers are funding 3 generations of costs.

This system is particularly hard on the large number of seniors who are living on fixed incomes.  These people have worked hard all their lives, they have paid taxes all their lives and they should expect to have security to enjoy their homes in their advancing years.  In spite of  what we’re told at times, taxes are high in Stratford.  My annual bill of $7,600 compares to friends with similar properties in Barrie of $6,300 and Toronto of $5,600.

I challenge council to bring in a budget at a 0 tax increase.  Mayor Mathieson (who is now in a record 13th consecutive year as mayor)  brought in a budget with an actual tax reduction in his first year as mayor.

We will hear the argument from management that this is not sustainable.  This is a myth as Stratford has seen a tremendous increase in new assessment which will add an additional $700,000 + to the taxation revenue in 2016.  This growth is in full swing and will sustain future increases in expenditures.  At the same time we need less municipal government, not more.

Please hold the line on taxes in Stratford so all can continue to enjoy the tremendous attributes of this great city.

Howard Famme

Friday, November 27, 2015

Cow Coliseum planned for Fairgrounds

Here is a link to the report on the cow coliseum that was on Monday's addenda and passed that night:

Here's the Beacon article from Monday's meeting:

I'm still working on finding answers to questions raised and will post when I am able to do so. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thought of the Day

A staggering paradox: the cure for scarcity is generosity. 
~ Robin Sharma


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Transit Open House Display Boards

Have ideas for improving transit in Stratford? Visit the link below to access the slides presented at Thursday's Open House. Feel free to share your thoughts here or by email at

Stratford Transit Open House

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thought of the Day

We owe almost all our knowledge not to those who have agreed, but to those who have differed.
~ C. C. Colton

Thought of the Day

A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes