VICTORY FOR LOCAL DEMOCRACY THREATENED

Stratford won the OMB decision. Official Plan Amendment 10 is official. OMB forced Stratford to pay legal fees incurred protecting our Official Plan. Walmart is Again Disrespecting the spirit and intent of our Official Plan by taking advantage of zoning loophole and building in East area of Strtaford.

READ AND CONTRIBUTE TO 'If You Love Stratford' FOR INFORMATION, NEWS, VIEWS AND IDEAS

*PROTECTING OUR SPECIAL DOWN TOWN AND HEART OF OUR COMMUNITY*

*LOCAL ECONOMY VERSUS CORPORATE LOOTING*

*SHINING A LIGHT ON WHAT MAKES STRATFORD SPECIAL*

*CONTROLLING SPRAWL*

*QUALITY OF LIFE*


Friday, April 30, 2010

BEAUTY IS PROGRESS



SPRAWL IS NOT PROGRESS - it is out of date and detrimental to quality of life. Let's truly protect what we have in Stratford - charm and a special urban environment.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

JANE'S WALK

Jane Jacobs was an urban visionary. She was the author of 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities'. Jane's Walk began in 2007 to celebrate Jane Jacobs and her work. Hundreds of cities in Canada and around the world now conduct Jane's Walks to promote livable cities and neighborhoods - mainly on May 1st and 2nd to coincide with her birthdate. Perhaps in the future Stratford will join this growing list of communities involved with 'Jane's Walk'. Stratford has been able to hold on to many of the characteristics of an intact healthy urban environment but is in danger of increasing sprawl. Here is the link to the Jane's Walk website: http://janeswalk.net

Legendary urban thinker, writer and activist Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, and yet her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail that now seem like common sense to generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists.
A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighbourhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work and play with words like these:
“No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk.” _-Downtown is for People, 1957.
Jacobs’ wrote incisively and beautifully on the importance of dense and vibrant city-scapes, famously uncovering the ‘sidewalk ballet’, that intricate dance between neighbours and passers-by that make a street enjoyable and friendly.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Yes to Petition - Store of the Community Ideas

Avonwood developers claim that Walmart hopes to create a Store of the Community and that in doing so, a building would be designed to reflect customers, neighbours and the community on the whole. If this were the case, what should this "Store of the Commu: It will be a small store (small by WalMart standards). Parking will be behind it, so that what adjoins the street is a friendly, human-size building, not a few acres of asphalt and cars. But it would be good to have a strip of open space and greenery between the building and the street. Even if the store is on the outskirts of town, town may in due course reach it and then a pedestrian-friendly place will be an asset. Moreover, a store like that would set a pattern for subsequent development to follow. (We\'re dreaming, right? In any case, if the townspeople have some say in how development takes place, this can be part of what we demand.)

If the store could be nearer to the centre of town than has been discussed, that would -- if it were the kind of place I an visualizing -- be a benefit and would avoid sprawl.

The store will sell a fair amount of Canadian-made merchandise, not only things made in China and such places, and it will showcase this Canadian merchandise.

Its manager will have Stratford\'s interests at heart at least as much as those of the corporation\'s head office.

But I still oppose the prospect of having a foreign-owned store, with its proceeds going across the border, becoming such a big player in a community which has comparatively few big retail and hotel chains doing business in it. Nothing that I can realistically visualize would be an asset to our community as it now is and as we hope to see it become.

submitted by M.B.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yes to Petition - Wal-mart is NOT cheaper

'I am a Stratford citizen who feels that WalMart is nothing but a bully and the money they spend extending action after action until those who do not want them in their community have run out of money, is but a drop in the bucket to them.
There are WalMart stores within a half-hour drive and I know, from human nature, that once they get a foothold in Stratford, people will still want to have a trip out of town just to see what else there is to see but, in the meantime, Stratford's stores will have been decimated. Why can't people see that WalMart is NOT any cheaper for food, etc. as I'm told by my son , who lives in London, that groceries are more expensive when he shops there.'
I wish more people would speak up. What is that quotation, "The only way for evil to prevail is for good men/women do nothing"
submitted by Shirley Davis

SHINING A LIGHT ON PERTH ARTS CONNECT

Perth Arts Connect is a not-for-profit, member-driven organization whose mission is to encourage, promote and support arts, culture and heritage, to enrich and enliven Perth County communities and to ensure that creativity and imagination remain a vital part of our social and economic life.
Are you interested in the arts, culture and heritage of Perth County? perthartsconnect.ca

Friday, April 16, 2010

PERTH COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Front page article by Brian Shypula in The Beacon Herald on Friday, April 16th titled "Agri-food, small business lead potential growth sectors". This article shines a light on the importance of controlling big sprawl for our future economic health - and creating a local healthy economy.
"Value-added agriculture and agri-food and small business hold the most potential for local economic development." according to Peter Blais of Miller Dickinson Blais from the recent economic report for Perth County. He also stated; " Perth County has tremendous opportunities for economic growth, they have a diversified economy and one of the things we emphasize is to carry on with that diversity."
A healthy local economy does not mean huge sprawl with chain stores that suck the money out of our county and send it straight to head offices often not even in Canada.
'Strong downtown vital to community' continues the article on page three and concludes with this crucial statement: "Protecting small town atmosphere against big-box mentalities, maintaining and encouraging diversity of business and culture, attracting young families, protecting agriculture, cutting red tape in municipal approval processes, environmental awareness and downtown revitalizationn were key points."
The Avonwood development, if it were allowed in the already sprawl heavy east of Stratford, would weaken our local economy.

Yes to Petition - Questioning the Role of the OMB

As a citizen and city councillor, I think the leverage and power given an unelected adjudicator to negate a planning decision made by a duly elected municipal council is an affront to the democratic process.It begs the question, \\\"why have an elected municipal body\\\", when provincial appointees with no connection to the municipality make the final decision. It is a sham to pretend that the debate, discussion and thought that goes into wise municipal planning by elected councillors is a mandated and collective process when it can be overuled by one appointed official.
submitted by Paul F. Nickel

Thursday, April 15, 2010

FOR EARTH WEEK

For Earth Week we can act locally to protect this piece of Earth, our Stratford. Sign the petition to protect the meadowland in the east of Stratford where Avonwood wants to build huge ugly sprawl including small box chain stores that would serve our city better in the empty store fronts down town. Sign the petition and pass it on to your friends and network, as an act to celebrate Earth Week. Imagine community agriculture thriving in that meadow instead of sprawl.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Educational Sources

Want to understand more about the dangers of irresponsible big box? Check out:
WakeUpWalmart.com
sprawl-busters.com
A message from Mr. Al Norman of sprawl-busters:
"I have written about Stratford.
Go to www.sprawl-busters.com, click on "Newsflash" then search by
"Stratford," or for that matter, "Canada" and see all the stories.
Best,
Al Norman"
Another educational resource is: http://walmartwatch.com

James Howard Kunstler Website

Bless Mr. Kunstler for focusing on the problems created by destructive sprawl in our lives and cities. Visit his website for more information about his work and writings.
www.kunstler.com
An interesting section of the website is the 'Eyesore of the Month'. Perhaps we in Stratford should shine a light on our eyesores and sprawl areas?
website submitted by D.L.

SHINING A LIGHT ON LIBRARY LECTURES

I did not know that 2010 is the INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF BIODIVERSITY until I attended the Stratford Library and University of Waterloo lecture April 13th given by Naturalist and Assistant Professor of Environmental and Resource Studies, Brendan Larson. Humans are having such an intense effect on the natural world with increasing urbanization and development. What will the future be like on our planet with decreasing diversity. Opportunities such as this lecture series is one of the reasons Stratford is special and must be protected.
Sprawl is not natural. Life dependent functions such as facilitating the water cycle and transpiration, the source of all life are not supported, sprawl being so car dependent and downright ugly. Nature not only provides oxygen and water but beauty. How do we begin to again incorporate the values of creativity, beauty and nourishing nature in the development of urban landscapes? Begin we must. Do we continue to create 'disturbed landscapes'? or reach towards more wholesome environments?
Not only biodiversity is under threat by the possibility of huge sprawl in Stratford but also retail diversity is endangered. We can start to make positive changes - here in Stratford - where we have held on to a beautiful downtown, our gift from the past, but we must insure the heart of our city comes with us into the future.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yes to Petition and The New Earth

Dear Wal-Mart Admistration,
The times of colonization by other countries and mega businesses are
a thing of the past. The New Earth is now ruled by principles of
respect, cooperation and community. Please step up to the plate to
become totally modern and up to speed with the rapidly changing
times. Do not let the world leave you behind. You could make a
formidable contribution by showing the world how to conduct a
business that is totally New Earth.
submitted by T.C.

Yes to Petition - Keep It Local

I really do believe that if people want to shop at Walmart...they can find one nearby.
As for Stratford...let\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s keep it local from now on!
submitted by Jim Reed

Yes To Petition and Community Ideas

Stratford is unique....and Walmart, a "cookie cutter" box store, dropped on the outskirts of towns... as if by aliens...as only aliens could assume that a big box solution fits every community.
Exterior "window dressing" will not make a big box any more a part of the community.
Walmart has not proven to be a Good Corporate Citizen for many of the communities it has moved into. A trail of economic destablization seems to follow it where ever it goes. Not to mention the ugly and useless premises left behind by this retail giant once they decide that it is no longer profitable to remain in their present location in your community.
That being said...if 'They' have to come...the city must do everything it can to strengthen the community aspects of our town.
This should include the removal of parking meters in the core (why fine the customer base for supporting our merchants ?), and remove the buses from what is strangely refered to as 'Market Square'...allow a market in market square...make it a community zone...it seems like a no brainer.
submitted by Luke Sheepers

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yes to the Petition and A Question About the OMB

I also think it is time to review the role and scope of the OMB. It should act as a mediator between municipalities and not overturn local municipal planning. It is absolutely ridiculous for the tax payer to have to hire lawyers to deal with line by line stalling tactics of large corporations with salaried lawyers !!!
submitted by Stephen Chandler

ROLL BACK - OUR RIGHTS

Do we roll over? Roll back our rights? Give up our freedom to determine the commercial structure of our own city?
Stratford is ours to lose. There are those that say "Give up - we'll never be able to stop them. Why spend more money, the OMB hearings already cost the city. The citizens won't accept any more cost."
HOW DO WE VALUE WHAT WE HAVE IN STRATFORD?
How could we get back what we so love about Stratford, our strong and vibrant downtown, with sudden overwhelming sprawl in the east end? We need our downtown strong for the next blossoming growth of our unique city. How do we protect the nature and character of Stratford? The heart of our city is not for sale. There are still things in life more valuable than money.
WHAT PRICE DEMOCRACY? LET'S STAND OUR GROUND.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

SHINING A LIGHT ON 'WALK AND ROLL'

A magical morning in Stratford today, Sunday April 11th, as Lakeshore Drive was closed to all cars from 6 a.m. till noon. This lovely event will happen again for the next two Sunday mornings.

This is quality of life! Another reason to fight to keep Stratford the way so many love her. We all need to say NO TO SPRAWL. Less car domination of our lives.... You could hear bird song instead of motors. And see a steady stream of families enjoying the safety and security of walking, biking, roller blading, pushing strollers without the dominating presence of cars.

One gentleman was walking down the center line of the road, with his dog and singing. A pleasure to see and hear.

One shy little girl was trying out her wings on her new bike - still with her training wheels but with such an open safe practice opportunity she will soon be able to loose the trainers and gain the freedom of her unmotorized wheels.

People out and chatting and walking on a spring morning. After noon - our downtown was alive and vibrant. Many thanks to movingON, Healthy Living Perth, Wendy McNaughton and all those who organized this life affirming community event. See you next Sunday and the Sunday after that too...

SHINING A LIGHT ON OUR SYMPHONY


Saturday night (April 10th) was a stunning evening of music. Our Canadian treasure, Louise Petrie, performed with The Stratford Symphony at Knox Church. Ms. Petrie was in Stratford between engagements at Carnegie Hall In New York - last week and Albert Hall in London, England - the next evening - April 11th! Just one more special night that makes the quality of life in Stratford so rare and precious.

Ms. Petrie is a powerful artist with an eloquent and extremely expressive voice. Vive la langue Francais! Her choice of songs poignantly elucidated the human condition.

Congratulations to Jerome Summers and his orchestra and to John David Sterne and Jamie Klassen for creating such a night.

I knew there was magic in the air from the beginning of the concert. In the first opening swells of moving music I looked up at the majestic windows of Knox Church and saw that there were other beings there enjoying the good vibrations... Against the soft peach light of the growing evening I could see the silhouettes of song birds huddled against the window frames. One bird couple appeared to be especially enjoying the concert as their wings fluttered in the air - love was in the air. Naturally - as the birds and bees....

A CHORUS OF CITIZEN'S VOICES

This blog is for the citizens of Stratford. A forum where we can raise our voices to protect our city from overwhelming sprawl. And a place to shine light on what gives our city such a high quality of life. Be Brave Stratford! With the community standing strong together we can either stop this destructive development or at least hold the corporation to their word of building a 'Store of the Community'. Our community. Send in your ideas of what a store of Stratford specifically would be like - a model for other communities fighting the same issues. If you would like to contribute ideas and writings please get in touch. SIGN THE PETITION and SEND THE BLOG ON! Thanks.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

If You Love Stratford featured in Stratford Beacon Herald

Decision coming down any day now. Read most recent Beacon Herald article here.

VISIONARY CENTER

Stratford has such potential to become a visionary center, a center of light in this era of over-consumption and environmental decline. We have a high quality of life. What is important? Friends, family, creativity, collaborative opportunities, robust local economy, health, nature... livable communities. Our downtown is still strong and we are working to make it even more vibrant. A gathering place. We have a wealth of artists and skilled people. We are located in a rich agricultural area. We can see positive growth with the coming of The Stratford Institute focused on culture and commerce in the digital era. I am looking forward to a strong Business Ethics component.

We can begin to celebrate and shine light on what makes Stratford special.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

PLEASE SIGN THE ABOVE PETITION TO PROTECT STRATFORD FROM SPRAWL

The Ontario Municipal Board decision regarding the future commercial development of Stratford will be announced soon. Please sign the above petition to protect our community's democratic rights.

The democratic, city council and citizen endorsed version of OPA 10 is needed to protect our local right to guide future growth and development in our city. If there is any doubt at all that the heart and core of our city would be endangered by Avonwood’s plan then it must be rejected. The simple truth? The overwhelming evidence of damage done to communities all over North America by the dominance of unregulated sprawl. This was the ‘elephant’ in the OMB hearings room.

I am proud that our city is taking pro-active measures to lessen the negative effects of sprawl on our crucially important downtown by enacting forward looking and protective commercial policies. In the vision of our city and planners, the downtown is central with a strong commercial area at each end of an east – west axis along Ontario and Huron. This is the idea of a three node commercial structure. It has symmetry and insures the downtown remains the central focus of our city. With all the positive directions possible for Stratford, the image of a great bird with two effective wings comes to mind as we soar into a bright future.

Compare this to Avonwood’s vision for Stratford: which is the commercial dominance of the east end of Stratford. This top heavy concentration involving a rapid, sudden and overwhelming increase of corporate big box and chain stores only in the east end will take over and eventually become the only option for shoppers in Stratford. Avonwood says it is important because Stratford will become a regional centre. Stratford already serves this role very well. Why would we endanger our important role as an international centre by weakening our core? We need our downtown to remain strong for the health of our local economy. The smaller chain stores that Avonwood plans for their development should be re-directed to the empty stores downtown. Canada needs Stratford to remain strong and healthy as a cultural, agricultural and digital media center. Stratford needs to lead the way as a visionary center.

"STORE of the COMMUNITY"

“STORE OF THE COMMUNITY”

In the ‘Stratford Wal-Mart Development Update’ flyer dated May 2005 under ‘The Facts’ you will find this statement:

“Wal-Mart hopes to create a Store of the Community with each location. Merchandise is chosen, people are hired, and buildings are designed to reflect customers, neighbors and the community on the whole.”

Let’s hold them to this statement. Let’s dream and visualize what a Wal-Mart that actually reflected the Community of Stratford would look like! Please add your ideas and comments.

In my opinion, Wal-Mart would first and foremost respect our City Council version of OPA 10 which protects our industrially zoned lands in the east end of the city and re-directs any new commercial developments that can’t be accommodated in the downtown core to the west end of the city where the city plans to grow in the future. This would give Stratford a ‘three node commercial structure’ where the downtown core remains central. Just as in the design of large commercial malls that have 2 large anchors stores at either end where the traffic pattern created benefits the smaller stores in the middle, the downtown would benefit and have some protection.

*Wal-Mart would use the architectural method of using an existing building fa├žade to keep the architectural and historical integrity of Stratford. It would be a modest sized store.

*Wal-Mart would build a modest sized parking lot behind the building and hidden from the main thoroughfare and fill it with many trees and plants.

*Wal-Mart would use the most up to date environmental building methods including solar power.

*Wal-Mart would allow the employees to unionize at a Stratford store.

*Wal-Mart would not sell dangerous products.

*Wal-Mart should reimburse the citizens and City of Stratford for the legal costs incurred in defending Stratford’s Official Plan Amendment 10 at the OMB.

*Wal-Mart should donate some of the land they hold in the east end of the city to create community garden plots.

*Wal-Mart should not sell products from off shore sweat shops.

*Wal-Mart should find local suppliers and pay them a fair price.

WHAT IDEAS DO YOU HAVE?

OMB APPEAL PROCESS

There are two potential appeal routes from any

decision of the OMB.

1. Request to review under s. 43 * of the OMB Act:

It must be filed within 30 days, absent

special circumstances.

2. Appeal to the Divisional Court, with leave of the Court, on a

question of law (i.e. pure legal issue). The motion must be served

within 15 days of the decision.

Needless to say, whether either route is viable in any particular case

depends on the circumstances and the decision itself.

*Contents of a Request A party making a request for review shall file notice of such request with the Chair within 30 days of the date of the Board’s written decision. Such notice shall include:

(a) the requestor’s full name, address, telephone, fax number, and e-mail address (if any);

(b) the full name, address, telephone and fax number and e-mail address (if any) of the requestor’s representative (if any);

(c) the requestor’s or representative’s signature;

(d) the reasons for the request;

(e) the desired result of the review (such as a change or alteration to the decision or a rehearing of the proceeding);

(f) any documents that support the request, including copies of any new evidence that was unavailable at

the hearing;

(g) an affidavit stating the facts relied upon in support of the request;

(h) a statement as to whether the requestor has or will submit an application for leave to appeal or judicial review to the court; and

(i) the prescribed filing fee (cheque or money order payable to the Minister of Finance).

How Big is Wal-mart?

I spoke with an employee of a Wal-mart in another city and she said to me: "you don't want to know about the meat department. Sometimes it stinks terribly". She also described how unhappy many of the employees are working there. Dead peasant life insurance policies???!? see #18.
HOW BIG IS WAL-MART? This should boggle your mind!! And scare you as well!
1. At Wal-Mart, Americans spend $36,000,000 every hour of every day.
2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.
4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target + Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.
5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people and is the largest private employer.. And most can't speak English.
6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the World.
7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger & Safeway combined, keeping in mind they did this in only 15 years.
8. During this same period, 31 Supermarket chains sought bankruptcy. (are we surprised)
9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.
10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are Super Centers; this is 1,000 more than it had 5 years ago.
11. This year, 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at a Wal-Mart store.. (Earth's population is approximately 6.5 billion.)
12. 90% of all Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart.
13. The value of product for Wal-Mart passing through the port of San Diego each year is a larger sum than 93% of ALL countries Gross National Product (GNP) ...and that is only ONE port ...one way that Wal-Mart gets it's stuff..
14. Of the 1.6 million employees, only 1.2% make a living above the poverty level.. (Interesting statistics eh, must be because they pay their employees so well)
15. Wal-Mart's head office is located and centralized in Bentonville. Due to this fact, there are more millionaires per square mile there than any place on Earth. (Wonder what merchandise they have it their friendly Bentonville Wal-Mart?)
16. The official U.S. Government position is that Wal-Mart's prices are no lower than anyone else's when compared to a typical families weekly purchases. That's the view of the statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) responsible for calculating the consumer price index (CPI).
17. 92% of everything Wal-Mart sells, comes from China. Another 4% comes from Chinese owned companies in the U.S. or in 3rd world countries. (Yes China is in charge here alright)
18. Wal-Mart and MOST large companies, take out life insurance on it's employees, without their knowing. If an employee dies, ALL the insurance moneys go to the companies. i.e. An employee making $18,000 per year, dies, and the company might make as much as $1 million. Most often these moneys, coming from what is commonly referred to as "Dead Peasant Life Insurance Policies", is paid out to executives as bonuses. (A common practice, unknown by the common man)
19. Wal-Mart now averages a "profit" (not sales) of $36 billion per year..
20. Let Wal-Mart bail out Wall Street. If not, consider shopping someplace else.

a *MUST SEE...


And this about family where the young wife died but Wal-Mart took the life insurance money:

A big thank you to C.R. for this reality check fact check about this corporation.