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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thought of the Day

The man with imagination is never alone. ~ Unknown

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Thought of the Day

Virtue is never left to stand alone. He who has it will have neighbours. ~ Confucius

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Thought of the Day

There is no failure except in no longer trying. ~ Elbert Hubbard

Monday, August 17, 2015

Thought of the Day

Despair of nothing. Latin Proverb

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Thought of the Day

Our duty is to be useful,
not according to our desires,
but according to our powers.
~ Henri Frederick Amiel

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thought of the Day

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Friday, August 14, 2015

Thought of the Day

Achieving starts with believing. ~ Unknown

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thought of the Day

They are able because they think they are able. ~ Virgil

Monday, June 8, 2015

RFP for Adaptive Re-Use of the GTR Shops

This was originally posted on Facebook. What follows may be difficult to read. It may be easier to go to this link:

RFP for Adaptive Re-use of the GTR Shops
7 June 2015 at 12:48

I would appreciate your input on the background on the RFP being considered at tomorrow's Council meeting. If you don't have time or care to comment, feel free to remove the tag. If there's someone else who may have input, please feel free to invite them to comment. I'd appreciate if the comments could stay connected to the note as I'm heading out soon to watch my nephew play hockey and don't want to miss any.
Kerry A few questions:

Any concerns? Errors? Omissions?
Is there value in soliciting RFPs for the site that don't specify adaptive re-use and considering all proposals at the same time?

In particular, I would appreciate input on what I perceive to be conflict with the current Official Plan Amendment being considered by the province. The proposed amendment can be found here, with the portion on the Cooper Site beginning on page 60. For your convenience I've copied the section below.

21 May 2015

To: Committee of the Whole
From: Ronald R. Shaw
Chief Administrative Officer
Re: Cooper Site Requests For Proposal

To consider the recommended provisions for the demolition and adaptive reuse requests for proposal (RFP) for the Cooper site building.


On 28 April, Council accepted a proposal for the Cooper Site building that will:
 Retain 75,000 Square Feet of the building with west wall, steel, and date stone;
 Remove only loose roof material from balance of building for health and safety;
 Demolish the Annex in the future because it has no heritage value;
 Allow a commercial relator to market remaining 75,000 square feet as adaptive re-use to prospective developers until 30 September;
 Remove cladding, loose material from building, and all outside buildings.
These actions will require the City to issue two RFPs, one for the demolition of 45% of the building, and one for marketing the adaptive re-use of the remaining 55% of the building.
Staff has reviewed the conditions that should be attached to these RFPs and recommends the following provisions be included in each RFP:
A) Demolition
1. The following sections of the Cooper Building are to be demolished:
 Approximately 45% of the west end of the structure (excluding the west wall);
 External buildings and structures
2. The following sections of the building are to be retained:
 West wall and date stone to be retained, braced, and made structurally sound
 Approximately 55% of the east end of the building is to be retained
3. For the remainder of the building, the following items are to be removed:
 Loose material from the roof
 Cladding
B) Adaptive Reuse
The City of Stratford invites qualified proponents to submit proposal for the adaptive reuse of the Cooper Building.
1. Goals and Objectives:
 To preserve the building and its heritage features
 To incorporate the existing building and its heritage features into the adaptive re-use of the building
 To complement the City’s downtown core
2. Terms and Conditions:
Public uses are excluded from consideration. Proponents should propose commercial or residential adaptive re-use projects.
 Proponents may propose uses for all or part of the building.
 Parking requirements and plans will have to be identified for any proposed uses.
 If a commercial parking development is proposed for the site, it must be fully financed through user fees.
 Commercial uses must comply with the restrictive covenant registered on title.
 If commercial uses are proposed, an economic impact study will be required to assess the impact on the City’s downtown core.
 Any proposal that is brought forward must include a detailed business plan to be considered by the City.
 The City of Stratford reserves the right to peer review your proposal to assess feasibility.
 By submitting a proposal, you agree that your proposal can be made public.
 There are no municipal guarantees for any proposal or proposed development.
 Applicants involved in litigation with the city are excluded from consideration.
To be determined.
That City Council adopt the proposed goals and objectives and terms and conditions proposed for the development of the Cooper Building as an adaptive re-use project;
That the CAO be directed to include these in any invitations issued for the development of this building.
From the Proposed Official Plan Amendment: 4.11 COOPER SITE - MAJOR INSTITUTIONAL USE FOCUS AREA
The Cooper Site is generally located south of St. Patrick Street, east of Cooper Street, west of Downie Street, north of the railway at the southern periphery of the Downtown Core. The Cooper Site is the original location of the Grand Trunk Railway shops. With April 2014 61 the first building being completed in 1871, the Railway shops (Grand Trunk and later Canadian National) would see numerous expansions over the years and more than 1,500 employees at one time before being sold to the Cooper-Bessemer Corp. in 1963. 1 In 1986 Cooper-Bessemer closed the facility.
4.11.1 Goals and Objectives for Cooper Site – Major Institutional Focus Area
i) To encourage public and institutional uses which will restore a sense of purpose and vibrancy to the Cooper Site making it a focus of activity in the southern part of the Downtown Core.
ii) To ensure that development in the Cooper Site complements and supports the role of the Downtown Core as the primary focus of the City with its own distinct character and identity.
ii) To ensure that the historic use of the Cooper Site is appropriately commemorated with an emphasis on the importance of rail to the development of the City.
4.11.2 Permitted Uses
The permitted uses, buildings and structures include any public, institutional or public service facility use, building or structure such as education, recreation, park, public transportation, or government uses, buildings or structures. In addition, accessory and ancillary uses may be permitted, including limited, small scale, ancillary retail and service commercial uses, as well as parking uses, that primarily serve the permitted uses. Council may, by official plan amendment, permit other uses that support or facilitate economic development.
4.11.3 Commemoration/Preservation
The City is in the process of determining the future of the existing structure on the Cooper Site which may include demolition, partial preservation, rehabilitation or commemoration. 4.11.3 Master Plan Process Development of the lands in the Cooper Site – Major Institutional Focus Area designation shall be in accordance with a Master Plan prepared and adopted by the City which will establish the general land use and transportation structure, and provide direction for other related issues such as servicing and urban design.
 Allan Pero Question 1: Why is the city proposing undertaking the responsibility/cost of partial demolition prior to finding out if a developer might wish to retain at least some portion of the west end of the building? Question 2: What evidence is there (produced by structural engineers or architects) that the proposed substantive demolition will not compromise the integrity of the rest of the building?
 Jason Dietrich Question 2a: what evidence or research findings, from qualified persons, is there to justify this percentage of the building being demolished? Why this amount? Why not another amount? Why not show your work on this? Is there any? Was it fully arbitrary. And if so, why? Why not go with a trained professional's opinion?
 Chantelle Oliver For example:
Downie district framework plan (final)
The former CNR site offers an unparalleled opportunity for the City of Stratford to strengthen and link the downtown, adjacent neighbourhoods and beyond...
 Kel Pero Question--to me, before almost any other question: Why, if I understand this correctly, is there no process in place--involving City Hall staff first, and THEN Council--for structuring the process of re/development of municipal lands? There should be at least a partial boilerplate process that outlines the steps one must take before ANYTHING is done. This is COMPLETELY ASIDE, I must emphasise, from ANY historical/heritage value the site has, from any interest groups, etc. WHY does there seem to be no structure here? Stratford is not some berg in an undemocratic, undeveloped country; it's a modern city, and has been for some time. I am completely at a loss to understand what I gather is the lack of this first, most basic step.
 Chantelle Oliver TRENDS in Canadian RFP process Recommendation #130- Keep politicians out of procurement. Recommendations #146 – Always have competition for contracts. Recommendation #166 – “For major, high-risk controversial or complex tenders, the City should consider retaining a fairness commissioner.”
New Trends in Procurement and the RFP Process: Why can't I just buy what I want from whomever I...
New Trends in Procurement and the RFP Process: Why Can't I Just Buy...
 Chantelle Oliver How to Increase Request For Proposal(RFP) Responses
Municipal Government – How to Increase Request For Proposal(RFP) Responses
Municipalities know that a competitive procurement process is integral to...
 Kathy Vassilakos At the last meeting we took the different parts of the compromise proposal separately and amended the retention part of the proposal to be approximately 75000 sq ft based on engineering determination of where the removal needs to be for structural stability and security . page 27 of the minutes. this was to address questions around structural stability of the remaining structure and ability to secure the building from tresspassing.
 Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick seems to me a partially demolished building will decrease stability

 Chantelle Oliver What Are the Standard Steps in the RFP Process?
An Overview of the RFP Process for Nonprofits and Libraries | TechSoup Canada
Donated software and technology resources for Canadian charities, nonprofits...
 Jason Dietrich Could someone please post the minutes here? I'm having technical difficulties.
 Kerry McManus Here's a link
 Bruce Whitaker MARKETING!!! We need someone who can write an appealing brief on the opportunity that exists - focusing on the magical history of the place and of the redeeming features of the building. I would also suggest that we sell Stratford as part of the RFP - including its geographical reach of over 10 million people within two hours. How many tourists do we attract to Stratford each year? There are so many positives to it. As is, the RFP is bland and definitely not a marketing piece - rather it seems more focused on cost than potential revenue - was it written by an accountant or admin? Let's think creatively. Let's develop an interesting narrative/story around it that would be an appealing piece for newspapers and online media spots to pick up thus creating the potential for demand - getting the word out there to everyone rather than a chosen few. May want to connect with David R Hicks and others from Stratford's creative set. My next question would be who is the RFP being sent to (local, Canada wide, international)?
 Katharine Bee I agree - I don't have much retail or sales experience but I have found that what is being sold is seldom just the product or service - it is the attached STORY that is being sold!
 Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick seems like they don't really want any response to this RFP and just want the clock to tick out to the ridiculous Sept. 30th deadline
 Bruce Whitaker As part of the adaptive reuse portion, I would make mention that the City of Stratford is willing to work with a developer to ensure a suitably sized building.
 Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick instead of any demo before development!
 Jason Dietrich Q: If the scope of the demolition is to be determined based upon a structural engineer's assessment, how is it possible to submit an RFP for either demolition or development? How the hell do you tender an open-ended RFP? What numbers does one use? I don't see it stated clearly in the minutes. (I don't see anything stated clearly in the minutes for that matter.) What is the order of operations here??? How can an RFP be voted on when there is no P in RFP yet?
 Michael Wilson  The demolition proposed destroys the integrity of the object and its future to sustain a new life, it is a desperate move, arbitrary and dubious at best. All elements proposed, in the City's proposal, are in direct opposition of the intention OFFICIAL PLAN. Residential is the least attractive and viable use, public use being an exclusion in the RFP? Haste makes waste, and that is all that all remain, toxic at that...... not to mention the unknown, undetermined environmental clean up costs once the building is destroyed...... please help Council.
Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick council does not own the site - the citizens past, present and FUTURE own it - council are acting like bullies
 Jason Dietrich Here's the problem with that, Bruce: what if they want more than 75k sf? What if they want less? What are the limits? What if the engineer's report says 85 or 90% is structurally sound and viable? What if they say 49? Or 25? That would be in direction opposition to the vote last meeting. What trumps what? We have ZERO direction here. Yet council is still forging blindly ahead with utterly meaningless, and ultimately toothless motions. It's truly mind-boggling. Talking heads. Blind leading the blind. And the blind willingly following right off the bloody cliff. Well, 89.1% of them.
 Bruce Whitaker Jason, I'm just saying that rather than demolishing it, we first build an appealing narrative/story that gets the opportunity out to the wide world. My second point was a compromise - rather than the city demolishing part of the building, that there be...See More
 Jason Dietrich I completely agree Bruce. This is the crux of the muddle here; it's already been decided! It's too late for that reasoned, sensible collaboration, if we are to go by council's actions. They've put forth a vote to say, "Who wants to build me a house? What's that? How big, you say? I have no idea. But how much will it cost?"
 Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick let's get a citizen movement going to counter act this foolish 'process'
 Kel Pero Frankly, I think we're up to our neck in appealing narratives. Everyone knows the place is historically significant. That really doesn't mean much of anything if we have no way of going about assessing and costing anything--anything--that is done to the place. Dreaming of what it might be is about five steps ahead of where we actually need to be right now if anything is going to be done.
 Kel Pero  Councilor Vassilakos or Councilor McManus, is the original report/recommendation from the engineer available? Also, more to the point, who's going to pay for this? Where is--again--the PROCESS by which things are assessed and costed? Why would the city (i.e. the citizen of Stratford) pay to demolish part of the building and then, presumably, pay again to have it redeveloped? I've only been in Stratford three-and-a-half years, and even I know that, pardon me, but we've all heard well-intentioned proposals for what the site could and should be till we're blue in the face. If there's no way of assessing and costing any of it, we might as well be talking about relocating our town to Mars. Where is the reasonably transparent, this-is-how-it's done method here? Whose interests are served by the current proposed plan of action (and yes, I mean "interests are served" in both benign and malign ways)? Why is this all so half-assed? I mean that sincerely.
Kerry McManus Kel Pero - you can access the latest RJC report in the additional documents from the May 26th meeting.
 Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick well said Kel Pero
Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick yes - whose interests are being served?????
 Jason Dietrich THANK YOU, Michael Wilson.
 Kel Pero PS It's great that Chantelle can find all kinds of how-tos for what we're talking about, but we're not employees of the City of Stratford. Some full-time salaried employees of City Hall, including CAO Ron Shaw, presumably have it within their job descriptions to research and prepare the information that is needed to follow proper process. And that info is presumably NOT to be presented to councillors mere HOURS before a vote.
 Chantelle Oliver arg!
 Jason Dietrich Yes indeed Kel; is there a codified SOP for development? If not, why the hell not?
 Kerry McManus I am just leaving my nephew's hockey game to go celebrate a recent engagement with friends. Reviewing events called "Council Meeting" should help you find all the related documents.
 Kerry McManus Also my website and notes on my FB wall could be helpful too.
 Kel Pero Thanks, Kerry.
Unlike · Reply · 2 · Yesterday at 15:04
 Jason Dietrich Right. With Kerry's permission, I'd like to request that everyone tagged, or anyone that reads this share it. At least once. Let's invite intelligence and rationale to this discussion. I would also suggest by-lining this with something along the lines of making it clear that this is NOT a debate on demo V saving; this is a forum for asking questions on the process. A process that is as yet wholly nonexistent.
 Kerry McManus Thanks for all your efforts to solicit input from a diverse group of stakeholders.
 Allan Pero Question: Who stands to benefit from the arbitrary number of 75,000 sq. ft? How much of this cost is to be borne by the city (i.e. citizens)? It seems as if the possibility that the CNR Shops could be turned more towards commercial development (over public and residential development) could be a significant threat to the downtown business core. I certainly hope Council is concerned about this possibility. Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick Bringing more diverse and interesting retail could serve to strength the downtown which has been losing more and more to the sprawl areas of the city
 Kel Pero I heartily endorse Jason's suggestion.
 Jason Dietrich Shared.
 Kel Pero Shared.
(I removed the tags for the website post just to help those trying to follow a Facebook thread on a website.) -Hi All. If you have time would appreciate it you would read through this thread and comment. You represent a range of expertise and experiences on policy and development in different parts of Ontario and Canada. If you have time, great, if not, thanks for being someone I thought would help if you could!
 Geoff Williams Kerry - in the Terms and Conditions, "public uses are excluded from consideration", but they are specifically included in 4.11.2, Permitted Uses. Why the discrepancy? Could preference not be given to a commercial development that included public
uses? There is also no mention of the environmental remediation of the site. A couple of long distance notes...
 Kerry McManus Geoff - I find the recommendation to preclude public uses and encourage commercial and residential uses curious. Our Official Plan Amendment was passed last spring. There are often empty stores in the core -what would adding a significant amount of commercial do to help/hinder the core? And finally, the distance from a railway to residential is to be 75m for new development. Anyone able to help bring clarity to what I see as conflicts in the reports?
 Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick I think a re-adapted GTR / CN site would strengthen downtown by bringing more traffic to the area
 Kel Pero Again, Lesley--that's what pretty much everyone thinks. The problem is that we have no way to get there. Or anywhere. Decisions are being made with no structure, and certainly no idea of how they'll be paid for. We need to pull 'way back.
Jason Dietrich Mixed public and commercial use. Spaces made-to-order, with long-term lease agreements with the city. Ensuring as well that x amount is reserved for public use. Commercial space in amongst a hub of daily public activity would be about as prime as it gets.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cooper Site - Can it All Fit? By Sarah McIntosh & Robert Ritz

Another look at the potential uses for the Cooper Site by Robert Ritz and Sarah MacIntosh. Be sure to look at possible site maps on pages five and six.

I offer this for discussion, not as an endorsement though I do appreciate the concept proposed even if there are a few changes I might suggest.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Stratford's Most Recent Official Plan Amendment

For those interested in the proposed Official Plan Amendment currently being reviewed by the Province, there is a link below. For those concerned about the Cooper Site, the discussion on its future uses begins on page 60.

Thought of the Day

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burdens behind us. -- Samuel Smiles, writer

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thought of the Day

I praise loudly. I blame softly.  -- Catherine the Great, empress of Russia

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Thought of the Day

It is not who is right, but what is right, that is of importance. -- Thomas Huxley, scientist

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thought of the Day

Be wary of liars. For, a liar can be your worst kind of thief. They can steal your hopes and dreams...”

― José N. Harris

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thought of the Day

Sadly, it's much easier to create a desert than a forest."-- James Lovelock, scientist

Beacon Article - Decision Delayed

I would appreciate your thoughts, particularly from those who heard the delegations Monday night.

Note, in my time at City Council, I have not heard a delegation advocating for demolition, just staff and Council. How does one give credence to a supposed silent majority? I've heard from many who want progress and when they hear the ideas coming forward from local experts, they see the potential.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Another option for the retention of 75000 square feet - Michael Wilson

Another option for the retention of 75000 square feet from Michael Wilson.

Input from Loreena McKennitt on Adaptive Reuse

Hello Kerry.
Thank you for reaching out although I am not sure how much assistance I will be able to give you. Here we go anyway.
The subject of heritage architecture has long been of keen interest to me although I haven’t been as actively involved as I once was in the 80’s.I have had to pick my “battles” and have not been paying intimate attention to the Cooper situation but am aware of developments last week. I worry that things are proposed without the due diligence being done and often due diligence costs money and takes time.
I am not sure how much time is left to undertake what kind of research,  but there is an excellent place in Montreal  called the Centre for Architecture which was started by Phyllis Lambert ( Bronfman family) .Montreal, for example, has all kinds of examples of adaptive reuse and the centre, in theory, should be able to give you examples of those. Sometimes they are just a facade... sometimes more. Each situation is different. I also think of the Seagram’s building in Kitchener. Likely Phyllis’ family was involved in that as well.
The scale of the Cooper site makes it tricky as well as it presently isn’t very photogenic. It is hard to get a large body of people to rally around a building which appears to have so little going for it. And also a population which has not known its’ history very well. At the same, time, I believe in the right hands, it could have very meaningful potential in the community and which would retain one more heritage footprint of where we have come from.
Psychologically, I think this is very important for a population . When I have visited places where this footprint has been completely or largely taken away for one reason or another
( war or bad planning), it becomes a rootless and undistinguishing  monotonous location just like many others around the world. This only becomes worse when the same box stores populate these areas. ( Gap, Foot Locker etc) One doesn’t know ( or care) whether they are in Dresdon, London or Plum Coulee, Manitoba and in my opinion there is not a compelling reason to return or stay for any length of time, which is of course what every business and town/city wants ..... People returning there and spending time and money there.
Actually, the village of Plum Coulee, Manitoba was assisted by Phyllis Lambert ( nee Bronfman ( above) whose mother Saidye, was born there) when she rescued an old vintage grain elevator. The little village, like many Manitoba towns I see, are in a process of revitalising  and are part of a Harvest Moon Society movement to recapture the composition of life which was once on a more human scale than the way towns /cities have evolved now. Then, there  is Jane Jacobs who lived in Toronto and was, in my view. a force for healthy diversity and urban design. Not sure what organisation might have sprung up in Toronto during her tenure, but she was an excellent guiding force for human urban design . One more interesting contemporary person of course is Charles Montgomery who recently published a book called Happy Cities. I also think of the Hauser family who rejuvenated a church in Heidelberg called Hauser Hall.
With respect to the Cooper site, and not having been involved or privy to what has been ruled in or out by whom, it would be difficult for me to comment further. One of the most important things is to work with people who really know their stuff and can bring in the experts to do structural studies and then model out and budget out any vision.
I hope this helps.
Thanks again for the work you do for the community.
Warm regards,

Top Points Against Demolition - Robert Ritz

Here is a letter presented by Architect, Robert Ritz on April 30th to Planning & Heritage

Stratford Railway Shops                    
April 30, 2015 
Top Points to Not Commission Full Demolition

Before Council decides to commission partial or full demolition the following points have to be addressed and  questions have to be answered. The focus should not be to tear it down but to make the site and building safe,  usable and attractive at the lowest cost for the taxpayer and any future purchaser. 

Why should the building not be totally demolished – because of the cost!! 
1. Free enterprise demolishes buildings to reduce property taxes. This reason does not apply to this  property. 
2. What are the taxpayers’ costs to date for this property? 
3.Does the purchaser pay the cost of full or partial demolition on top of what the City’s costs to date are  for property? 
4. What is the cost to demolish? 
5. Designated Substances affect the cost of repair or demolition. Was a Designated Substance Report  prepared and considered in the cost to repair or demolish?  
6.Explain how or if the taxpayer will ever recover the costs the City has invested in this property since it  was purchased. 
7.If the developer can work with a partially demolished building to create a unique development then  why would they pay the additional cost for full demolition?  
8.Developers who do not like what has not been demolished can, at their cost, demolish the rest and not  at the taxpayers’ cost. 
9.Why would the taxpayer cover the cost of full demolition when partial demolition and repair solve the  safety and access issues? 
10.Maintaining a few bays intact implies development of these bays to make them water tight, insulated  and conditioned for an unknown use plus the annual cost to operate it. Does the taxpayer know what  this cost is?

Determine what components require repair to make the building and site safe, usable and attractive.  1. Roof asphalt membrane 
2. Roof deck 
3. Roof steel structure 
4. Steel columns supporting roof structure 
5. Concrete walls supporting roof structure 
6. Annex brick cladding 
7. Concrete floor   
Determine the itemized cost to demolish or repair components that require repair and maintenance to make  the building and site safe, usable and attractive. 
1. Roof asphalt membrane – demolish since it has to be removed to be repaired 
2. Roof deck – demolish since it has to be removed to be repaired 
3.Roof steel structure – it can be cleaned and protected with Galvafroid coating but with scrap value it  may be more economical to demolish with some sections remaining to indicate profile of roof
4.Steel columns supporting roof structure – it can be cleaned and protected with Galvafroid coating but if  the roof is removed they serve no function except to support the sections of the  remaining roof  structure to indicate profile of roof
5.Concrete walls supporting roof structure – This portion of the building has great heritage value and the  reinforced concrete embedded into steel columns is difficult and expensive to demolish with minimal  scrap value. Demolition would be more expensive than the cost to, retain and clean the concrete and  steel, cap the top of the concrete with roofing membrane to make water tight and protect steel with  Galvafroid coating.
6.Annex – This portion of the building has less heritage value than the original concrete wall portion. The  steel structure supporting this brick faced addition consists of structural steel sections that have great  reclaimed steel value. Because of the value of the steel and the fact that brick is simpler to demolish  than concrete, it is be more economical to demolish this entire structure than to retain it. 
7. Concrete floor – has various thickness and has reinforcement around the rails to support the  locomotives and other uses of the building have added deep footings to support equipment.  Demolition would be more expensive than the cost to, retain and clean the concrete.  8. Concrete foundations – are very deep in the west end of the building. Removal would more expensive  than the cost to retain and cap with concrete.
  Conclusion – Save the taxpayers’ money. Only demolish components that are more expensive to repair and  maintain to make the building and site safe, usable and attractive. Spending any more would not be good  stewardship of the taxpayers’ dollar. 

ROBERT RITZ, B. Arch., O.A.A., M.A.A.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Why use a hammer when a feather would do?

I am thankful for all the input over the past few weeks as Council looks at addressing the order from the Chief Building Official. I would appreciate if you would share this with your friends and family and encourage them to email me with their feedback.

Please share.
Why does the decision around the Cooper Site matter?

Over 5 acres of land are inside the building. Why vote on demolition before meeting with CN for clarification on potential land uses?

Where's the money?
There is no budget line in the 2015 to pay for demolition so where will the money come from? Will another project be taken off the table? Which one? How many projects will be delayed to complete this undertaking in the proposed timeline?

What's the cost?How can Council entertain this motion without numbers? Do the math and then let Council weigh its options. Committing to demolition without the facts will require a motion to reconsider that must receive 2/3 of Council's support. Address the loose roofing material, secure the site, stage the property but let the building stand until the questions (some listed in the motion posted below) have been answered.

Why use a hammer when a feather will do? The Chief Building Officer's order doesn't speak of demolition. Why not follow it and remove loose roofing materials and secure the site? Then let's work together to "stage the property" - clean up the exterior, exchange some of the hoarding with glass to allow for those visiting the site to have a window into the building to imagine what its next chapter may be.

Many thanks to Simon Brothers for this video created last Saturday on a tour with Dean Robinson.

Cooper Site 11th Hour Tour with Dean Robinson by Simon Brothers

Here is the motion being considered at Monday May 11th's Council Meeting in Council Chambers, all are welcome.

9.3 Report of the Committee of the Whole Open Session: 

Your Committee recommends: 

9.3.1 Cooper Building Proposed Action: 

1. Retain 75,000 Square Feet of the building (green) with west wall, steel, and date stone;

2. Remove only loose roof material from balance of building for health and safety;

3. Because Heritage Stratford did not include the Annex (yellow) in reasons for designation, the Annex is to be demolished in the  future because it has no heritage value;

4. We will contact the railway to discuss permitted uses on the site and the 30 meter setback; 

5. Council will review the costing of available options and public uses as discussed at subcommittee on 30 April;

6. Commercial relator to market remaining 75,000 square feet as adaptive re-use to prospective developers until 30 September;

7. Remove cladding, loose material from building, and all outside buildings (blue);

8. Fencing issue to be decided by the Chief Building Official as per the Unsafe Order. 

Respectfully submitted by Mayor Mathieson, Chair. 

Motion by That the Report of the Committee of the Whole Open Session dated May 11, 2015 be adopted as printed.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

a letter from Dean Robinson

Dean Robinson has asked me to share his letter to Council. He also mentioned if there are groups of 10-12 interested in a walking tour of the Cooper Site, he is willing to serve as a tour guide. You can email me at and I will make an introduction, if you're interested.

Dean's letter:

In reflecting upon the Cooper site compromise that was visited upon most of us on Monday, I think there are some questions that need to be answered.

Does the demolition of the building need to stretch so far to the east?
I think we’ve been told it does, because the fire-damaged roof stretches that far to the east.
If it is the damaged roof that is of concern, why not take down just the damaged roof?
Why does a good chunk of the north wall (the west end of the north wall) need to come down with it?
As well, if you take down the west end of the north wall, you start cutting into the mezzanine (the balcony). And if you start cutting into the mezzanine, does that impact upon the integrity that mezzanine, which stretches all the way to the east end of the machine shop (the east end of the building).
To my knowledge, there is nothing wrong with the mezzanine, apart from its decking. I’ve been allowed on the mezzanine by the city’s former chief building official Dave Carroll.
Its decking is not perfect, but I would not describe it as unsafe. Nor would I say the decking reflects the strength of the mezzanine.
It is not easily accessible now because the staircases to reach it have been removed. I was told by Carroll they were removed for security reasons.
In any event, I don’t understand why sections of the wall and mezzanine need to be taken down because there is a “roof problem.” If the westerly end of the south wall can remain without a roof (as the current demo plan is calling for), why can’t the westerly end of the north wall and its attendant mezzanine remain without a roof?
Are there engineer reports that say the westerly end of the north wall and the mezzanine must come down?
As I said, there remain some questions to be answered.
I look forward to hearing those answers.
Dean Robinson 

Engineered Demolition

Robert Ritz asked me to share this.

The Rail Shops have been an eyesore for many years. The cost to demolish any portion of the rail shops is not part of this year’s City budget. If funds permit, Council has the genuine intent to give taxpayers what they want.
As a compromise between repairing damaged structure or full demolition, last Monday Council endorsed a motion to demolish the portion of the structure with fire-damaged roof and retain a sizable portion at the building’s east end and the west wall with the 1907 date stone – a key heritage feature. Further demolition of the building, at taxpayer’s cost, may also occur if a development for the site is not received by Council by September 30 of this year.
If the damaged portion of the building is limited to the roof deck and membrane, why spend taxpayers’ dollars to demolish the steel roof structure and walls which appear to be structurally sound? Council also has a concern involving the demolition of the annex, if the walls are torn down, then future developers may not be able to build that close to the tracks. If this is the case, then all the walls on the south side of the structure should stay up for the same reason. 
Since the Council meeting on Monday, I have had the opportunity to talk with some of the residents living south of St. David Street and they all had the same opinion, "It does not need to be torn down, just cleaned up". By opening the building up to the public, the site lines and new access to the university campus and Downtown will transform this neighbourhood and the site.
Council could resolve this issue at low cost to save taxpayer’s dollars by requesting a proposal for “Engineered Demolition”. This is where demolition contractors bid to retain an engineer to review the damage and tender a price to demolish the least amount of structure. The “Engineered Demolition” could entail three parts. One, ensuring the building meets the criteria to satisfy the unsafe order, confirmed by the engineer. Two, remove the steel cladding, clean the remaining concrete and steel structure and repair the damaged concrete as directed by the engineer to avoid future water damage. Last, if funding can be arranged, remove the hoarding and concrete block that infill the windows and provide access through the first floor windows so taxpayer’s can finally see and walk through the structure they have so much invested in.
If the cladding is removed the long bays of the structure are open to Downie Street where a sculpture of scrap steel could be hung to replicate the image of Locomotive 6218 for passersby to see. By floodlighting the pilasters and this work of art the structure becomes an attraction we can all be proud of versus the eyesore we all despise.
Let Council know your choice, make it safe, clean it up or make it accessible until developed by others.
Robert Ritz, Architect

Participatory Democracy

Feeling blessed to live in a community beloved by both its residents and guests. So grateful for all who have made time to share their insight and expertise as I ponder how best to address my concerns on the future of the Cooper Site this Monday. Architects, lawyers, engineers, contractors, realtors, professors, authors, historians, bankers, Stratfordites & guests of the Festival City of diverse expertise- I couldn't do what I do on Council without the generosity of many who work to inform my positions with their knowledge and understanding of issues involved.
Now to do my best to synthesize the data into a manageable form for Monday night.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thought of the Day

Be political, not partisan. Ideological, not utopian. ~ unknown