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Dealtown Casino Hotel and Retirement Village Initiative

  • My response to CONNIE WOODCOCK story

     

    I was very happy to see that you ran the Connie Woodcock article regarding the current Toronto casino speculation.  I sure hope that Toronto will have a casino!  That would open the door for my proposed Dealtown Casino & Retirement  Resort in Chatham-Kent!

    Connie shared some facts about gambling but fell short on some of the key facts:

    1.    85% of adult Canadians gamble, not 65%.

    2.    She forgets that buying lottery tickets, playing bingo and betting on sports games, even among friends or on an on-line service is gambling.

    3.    She also failed to mention that the #1 gambling addiction has nothing to do with going to a casino, or sinners palace as many like to categorize them. In fact, the #1 gambling addiction in Canada and the USA is the purchase of lottery tickets which cannot even be purchased at most casinos.

    4.    Guess what the #2 addition is if you consider repeat playing of the game, win or lose? It is BINGO.  FYI, OLG reports that Bingo revenues are greater than parimutuel wagering.

    Now, back to the friendly topic of casino establishments.  Most casinos are entertainment centres where people go to eat, drink, enjoy entertainment, maybe stay overnight at the hotel, and YES (maybe) even wager a few dollars on the slots or table games.  The government is not picking the pockets of people who willingly visit the casinos! Statistically, the average resort casino visitor spends more on food, logging and entertainment than they gamble when they visit a casino.

    Chatham-Kent needs the 3,000+ jobs that the proposed Dealtown resort will bring to town!  It needs jobs that will bring our young college graduates back home.  It needs a housing boom to re-establish our retirement home equity. CK needs a good blood transfusion!

    It’s time for this community, its leaders, its people, its youth and its politicians to wake-up, get-up and speak-up or CK will keep on getting what it has been getting, which is Nothing!  No new jobs, more plant closures,  more people leaving town and oh YES, higher taxes for those of us who stick around!

    Speak up!

    Brian Keenan

    Chairman

    Dealtown Casino Initiative

     

  • 13 Feb 2012 Chatham Daily News CONNIE WOODCOCK QMI Agency

    Like it or not, Toronto will have a casino

    Editor's Note: This poll is not scientific and reflects the views of participating Internet users only.

    If it were up to me, there would be no more casinos opened in Ontario and we wouldn’t be loosening the rules for online gambling.

    I’d shut down the Windsor casino that has made less and less money since Detroit opened its own and the Americans needed passports to cross the border. I’d leave gambling strictly to Niagara Falls and a few First Nations.

    I don’t care how much money Ontario rakes in from casinos — nearly $2 billion a year. It’s too dangerous a pastime to encourage. For too many, it ruins lives and destroys families.

    Sixty per cent of us gamble and 3.4% of those are problem gamblers.

    All it does is give governments an easy way to pick their citizens’ pockets.

    I’m not alone in this. A recent poll showed that in Toronto alone, 50% of the population is against a casino in the city. Only 35% were in favour in the Forum Research poll while 15% had no opinion. Researchers claim that over the years more and more Canadians have become antigambling as we become more and more aware of the negatives involved.

    So why does it seem inevitable that a casino will be coming to Toronto in the very near future?

    For one thing, Ontario is about to dive into online gambling by letting you buy lottery tickets online and place bets from your iphone or your computer.

    For another, both Ontario and the city are desperate for new money-raising options.

    There’s an Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission report due soon that is reportedly going to recommend a Toronto casino as a way of helping to erase the provincial deficit.

    And what a coincidence. Toronto just happens to have two perfect casino sites — one at Woodbine Racetrack where the slot machines reportedly jingle as merrily as anywhere in the world and one at Ontario Place, which the government has just shut down for five years as it searches for ways to redevelop the site.

    Turn Ontario Place into an adults-only entertainment centre?

    Ontario Place has always been a tough sell. Even before it opened back in 1971, there were plenty of critics claiming it would never fly — and really, it never did, not in the way its builders expected. Facing hard times, the province got sick of losing $20 million a year on it.

    There was never enough to do or see, the food and drinks were pricey and seldom up to par in a city loaded with good restaurants. And there never was an easy way of getting there.

    It was supposed to be a jewel, a family place that would showcase Ontario. Instead it became another mistake by the lake.

    Putting a casino there might finally make it go, but does Toronto really want to send that message? Turn some of its finest waterfront into an entertainment venue dedicated to emptying the pockets of every visitor?

    Does Ontario want that? Visit us. Bring cash. Leave the kids at home.

    And of course, tourists aren’t the OLG’S main target. They want to make it easier for more Torontonians to gamble. No more buses to Niagara Falls. You can spend the savings on the slots.

    The best place for a Toronto casino has to be Woodbine Racetrack, where betting and slots are already available and where a billion-dollar redevelopment plan will put all kinds of entertainment, retail and recreational activities in one place.

    A casino would be a natural centrepiece — and for those of us who think casinos are eyesores, it would have the extra benefit of confining all the gamblers to one not-very-visible part of the city.

    Out of sight — and out of mind. As long as governments are dependent on gambling, you have to close your eyes because it’s not going away.

  • Shame, Shame, Shame on the Ontario Government

    Shame, Shame, Shame on the Ontario Government…

    “Maximize Profits” or NOT?

    Shame, shame, shame and who should we blame? Buzz words like, “maximize profits” are flying around Queens Park when at the same time billion dollar assists are being sold off by Ontario government for a fraction of a penny on the dollar.

    Let me share this with you!  The former Rideau Regional Center in Smith Falls, Ontario was sold last year by Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation (OILC) for the tidy sum of $100,000.  This 354 acre property was built with tax payer money in the 40’s and early 50’s. It has 50 interconnected buildings totalling over 800,000 sq ft.  The replacement cost with today’s tax dollars would exceed one billion dollars.  Do the math; the purchase price of $100,000 divided by the asset value today $1,000,000,000 which equals .00010 of a penny on the dollar and that is what was recovered from the sale of this asset. 

    Wait, this story isn’t over; OILC is now selling off a similar asset again bought with tax dollars in the late 50’s and 60’s and also worth about a billion dollars to replace today.  This time it’s a scenic 235 acre waterfront property with 29 interconnected buildings totalling over 650,000 sq ft of usable space. To make matters worse, these building had a face lift worth millions in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  We are talking about the former Southwestern Regional Centre (SWRC) in Dealtown Ontario.  Within weeks, the government that wants to “maximize profits” for us tax payers is expected to sell this property less than its Smith Falls counter-part.

    Let me share a secret with you, a third such property is also being sold off but maybe OILC will get more for it?

    I’ll explain why I care about saving the Southwestern Regional Centre from the wrecking crews.  In its prime which was not that long ago this self-contained resort housed over 1200 guests.  It is located far from the hustle and bustle of any big city yet only a 10 minute country drive from Hwy 401, the busiest highway in North America.  The resort is perched on the north shore of Lake Erie in the hamlet of Dealtown which is part of Chatham-Kent, one of the largest yet poorest municipalities in all of Canada.  Since the late 90’s, over 13,000 jobs have disappeared from Chatham-Kent and the closing of the regional centre by OG accounted for over 600 of those lost jobs.

    The current Liberal government has had six years to find another use for these three billion dollar facilities but couldn’t come up with any.  Infrastructure Ontario contemplated converting the Dealtown centre into a juvenile correction facility but instead chose to build a new one in Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan’s Windsor riding at a cost of $247M and leave the Dealtown centre to decay.  Maybe they offered these facilities to the federal government, or maybe not.  Coincidently a few weeks ago, the local newspaper reported, and I quote the Ontario Correctional Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur, that “With (a Federal Bill) C-10, it’s a very new real possibility of having to build a new 1,000 bed facility (in Ontario). And these new facilities cost over $900 million.”

    Now for the punch line, or whatever you want to call it,  there is a solution that would see the SWRC transformed into the Dealtown Casino Hotel and Retirement Village for a modest $200M and at NO COST TO ONTARIO TAXPAYERS.  It takes only two signatures to make this happen.  This first signature is needed to stop the sale of the property to a doomed demolition crane and tax payer funded solar farm.  The second signature would grant the Dealtown Casino Initiative investment partners a licence to operate a resort casino. 

    Those two signatures would benefit all of Ontario but more specifically the devastated community of Chatham-Kent. The facility proposed for Dealtown would be a modest 2/3’s the size of the Windsor, Rama and Niagara centres. It would have fewer slots and table games in comparison to the big casinos and will chase a totally different market. This single initiative translates into 1,985 direct jobs, 1,489 indirect jobs and according to the experts another 752 induced jobs which experts say area a result of labour income spending.   That is a total of 4,227 jobs; that is four thousand two hundred and twenty seven new jobs, give or take.

    In conclusion, let me share some basic math with our Minister of Finance, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and Minister of Economic Development and Innovation!  Those new jobs will generate $190 million of taxable income based on an average salary of only $45,000/employee.  That represents about $20M in income taxes not to mention what OG might earn on casino revenues.  Now that is “maximizing profits” on a two signature investment!

    -30-

    By Brian Keenan

     

    Brian Keenan

    Chairman

    Dealtown Casino Initiative

  • Chatham needs the casino more than Toronto

    Letter to Editor

    UNLESS otherwise noted, these letters are to be considered unedited. The opinions expressed in the letters and comments are those of the writers and not of The London Free Press.

    Chatham needs the casino more than Toronto...

    Billion Dollar Solar Farm OR a Casino Resort for Dealtown

    Chatham-Kent realtor, Brian Keenan the self-appointed Chairman of the Dealtown Casino Initiative (DCI) says, "The Ontario Government has a ready-made billion dollar site suitable for a casino and retirement resort, but maybe they don't want it discovered!" Instead, they are rushing to dispose of this asset for less than a tenth of a penny on the dollar of what it's worth to build today. In all likelihood this sprawling 235 acre Lake Erie waterfront resort property with its 16 mint-condition buildings totaling 650,000 sq ft of floor space will be sold this month for its scrap value. Once demolished, another tax payer subsidized Green Energy solar farm will be erected on the historic site if the deal is not stopped.

    Ironically, Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan who is on a mission to "maximize profits"passes by this stately resort every time he returns to his home ridding from his perch atQueens Park. The property in question is known as the Southwestern Regional Centre (SWRC) and it was built with tax dollars in the early 60s. At its peek, this self-contained resort catered to the daily needs of 1200 guests and employed more than 600 local residences. It is the newest of three such facilities in Ontario that were deemed surplus by OG and ordered disposed of. Last year the first of these billion dollar facilities, and a larger one at that, was sold for the tidy sum of $100,000 in Smith Falls to a developer.

    "We don't need a 235 acre solar farm on prime recreational waterfront real estate in Chatham-Kent!" says Keenan, who prepared a detailed plan to transform this stately facility into an appropriately named resort called the "Dealtown Casino Hotel Resort andRetirement Village". The plan would require NO TAXPAYER DOLLARS and would be built with $200M of investment capital from recognized leaders in the North American hospitality and gaming industry. It would ultimately employ 1900 workers from Chatham-Kent, Essex and Middlesex counties and generate another 1400 indirect jobs to service the resort and a further 700 induced jobs which experts say will result from the spending power of these workers. According to Mayor Randy Hope of CK, the idea received a "cool reception" when he presented it to officials at OLG.

    That is like the Ontario Government selling off Ontario Place to Samsung, its Green Energy partner, to build a giant wind and solar farm on our beautiful Lake Ontario waterfront. On the other hand, maybe that really is the government's plan? Could it be that the suggestion to put the Toronto Casino at Ontario Place is just a ploy to rally opposition to that idea in favour of another location like Woodbine Racetrack? That would certainly leave Ontario Place available for one of their Green Energy initiatives. For as you know, Ontario Place is already the home of the province's first wind farm.

    If it's a casino that the minister wants and needs to "maximize profits" then Dealtown is a better, a more logical and a more economical choice for its location. Those 3,000 new jobs are only a quarter of those lost in CK in the past decade; but they will be a start to a new life and a new heart for the community, not to mention the tax revenue and casino profits the Dealtown Casino Initiative will generate for OG.



    POSTED BY: Brian Keenan, Dealtown, Ont
    POSTED ON: February 12, 2012

  • Chatham News publishes Golden Goose or Dead Duck release

    Golden goose or dead duck?

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sir: Ducana Windows in Tilbury closed its doors Jan. 3. It's just another in a long string of dead ducks in the once-booming Chatham-Kent manufacturing economy. Later that week, The Chatham Daily News reported that "Agriculture trumps manufacturing" in Ontario and that the food industry is driving Ontario's engine. But Chatham also has more than its share of dead ducks in the food processing industry over the years and even more recently with the closure of a fruit processing plant in St. David's.

    Last November, I introduced MPP Rick Nicholls, MP Dave Van Kesteren, a host of Chatham-Kent officials and fellow Chathamites to a real golden goose. I reminded them that this municipality was once the home of one of Ontario's biggest full-service facilities, namely, the Southwestern Regional Centre (SRC), which I maintain is still Chatham's golden goose. Mayor Hope referred to the closing of this 1,200-bed facility as the biggest blow ever to Chatham-Kent's economy from both a job and tax revenue basis; and I couldn't agree more.

    You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see that agriculture, retirement living, tourism and gaming are the four cornerstones to bringing jobs back to Chatham-Kent. My Dealtown Casino Hotel and Retirement Village initiative targets three of these cornerstones, which is why I maintain it is the golden goose that Chatham needs.

    The SRC is comprised of 29 buildings, totaling 650,000 square feet on 250 acres of prime land in Dealtown on scenic Talbot Trail. It was a self-contained specialty facility catering to guests with special needs; but make no mistake, it was a resort and I contend that it can again become a thriving resort. My initiative proposes 100 retirement residence suites and 200 hotel rooms which cover off two of those afore-mentioned cornerstones.

    My proposal converts part of the old medical facility into a casino with supporting retail, dining and entertainment facilities. This transforms the facility into a destination resort and provides both the attraction and the jobs needed to run such a resort.

    Let me share some facts with you. I didn't make these numbers up; they are derived directly from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) annual reports and several recent economic impact studies dealing with gaming in Canada. The casino facility that is proposed for the Dealtown initiative is two-thirds (about 65%) the size of the Windsor, Rama and Niagara centres. It would have approximately 1,500 slots, 52 table games and a bingo hall. This translates into 1,985 direct jobs, 1,489 indirect jobs and, according to the experts, another 752 induced jobs which experts say are a result of labour income spending. That is a total of 4,227 jobs, give or take.

    Who controls the golden goose, you ask? OLG is the gatekeeper and to date their contribution to jobs in Chatham-Kent consists of only 84 direct, 63 indirect and 33 induced jobs associated with the Dresden Slots and Racetrack facility. This puts Chatham-Kent on the bottom rung of the 85,433 Ontario gaming industry jobs ladder. In other words, we have a whopping 0.212% of the total jobs created and sustained by OLG gaming initiatives.

    The problem is that this golden goose is about to be killed and only the folks at OLG and Queen's Park can save it. Mayor Hope ran the idea up the flagpole at OLG and to use his words, "They were cool on the idea." Sure, OLG can provide $83,800,000 as its share to help build the new $165M casino on Scugog Island! Sure, OLG can make significant investments to expand OLG Slots at Ajax Downs and OLG Slots at Georgian Downs and the renovations at OLG Casino Brantford. It's also nice that the City of Windsor and the City of Niagara Falls receive $3 million a year from OLG, not to mention a recent $5.5 million re-signing bonus payment to the Chippewa's of Rama. What about giving Chatham-Kent a little help?

    I have are several major casino developers interested in financing this golden goose. The $165 million to $200 million needed to renovate the SWRC is all private financing. The municipality might need to put up a few signs; but unlike the Capital Theatre goose, the Chatham-Kent taxpayers will not be funding this initiative. So what is the problem? Well, the SWRC is about to be sold for scrap and the property converted into a solar farm with a few new homes or even converted back into raw farmland. If the city officials, the Ontario government and the taxpaying citizens of Chatham-Kent let that happen, we will have another very big dead duck and nothing but a big goose egg for jobs.

     

    Brian Keenan

    Blenheim

     

  • Golden Goose or Dead Duck

    On January 7th, I release a letter to local media and members of parliament.

     

    Subject: Golden Goose or Dead Duck?

     

    Ducana Windows in Tilbury closed its doors this week! It's just another in a long string of "dead ducks" in the once booming Chatham Kent manufacturing economy! Today’s paper reports that “Agriculture Trumps Manufacturing” in Ontario and that the food industry is driving Ontario’s engine.  We’ve also had our share of “dead ducks” in the food processing industry over the years and more recently with the closure of a fruit processing plant in St. Davids.

     

    Last November I brought the Golden Goose to the attention of city officials and fellow Chathamites. This city was once the home of one of Ontario's biggest resorts, the Southwestern Regional Centre (SWRC) which I maintain is still our Golden Goose!  Mayor Hope calls the closing of this 1200 bed resort the biggest blow to Chatham-Kent’s economy from both a job and tax revenue basis; and I couldn’t agree more.

     

    You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that agriculture, retirement living, tourism and gaming are the four cornerstones to bringing jobs back to Chatham-Kent.  The Dealtown Casino Hotel and Retirement Village initiative targets three of these cornerstones, which is why it is the Golden Goose.  The SWRC was a self-contained specialty resort but make no mistake, it was a resort and I contend that it can again become a thriving resort. My current initiative would include 100 retirement residence suites and a 200 room hotel which covers off two of those cornerstones.  The proposed casino adds the third leg and would deliver the resort attraction and related jobs.

     

    You ask, “HOW MANY JOBS WOULD THIS GOLDEN GOOSE BRING TO CHATHAM-KENT?”  Let me share some FACTS with you.  I didn’t make these numbers up; they are derived directly from OLG reports and several economic impact studies on gaming in Canada.  The casino facility that is proposed for the Dealtown initiative is 2/3 (about 65%) the size of the Windsor, Rama and Niagara centres. It would have approximately 1500 slots, 52 table games and a bingo hall. This translates into 1,985 direct jobs, 1,489 indirect jobs and according to the experts another 752 induced jobs which experts say area a result of labour income spending.   That is a total of 4,227 jobs; that is four thousand two hundred and twenty seven new jobs, give or take.

     

    Who controls the Golden Goose you ask!  Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is the gate keeper. Their generous contribution to Chatham-Kent currently consists of 84 direct, 63 indirect and 33 induced jobs which represent a whopping 0.212% of the total 85,433 jobs created and sustained in the Ontario gaming industry.

     

    The problem is the Golden Goose is about to be killed and the only people that can save it are the folks at OLG and the Ontario Government.  Mayor Hope ran the idea up the flag pole at OLG and to use his words, “they were cool on the idea.”  Sure, OLG can provide $83,800,000 as its share to help build the new $165M casino on Scugog Island SW of Peterborough! Sure, OLG can make significant investments to expand OLG Slots at Ajax Down and OLG Slots at Georgian Downs and the renovations at OLG Casino Brantford.  It’s also nice that the City of Windsor and the City of Niagara Falls receive $3M a year from OLG, not to mention a recent $5.5M re-signing bonus payment to the Chippewa’s of Rama.

     

    I have are major casino developers standing in line to finance this Golden Goose!  The $165 to 200M (+ or -) needed to renovate the SWRC is all private financing.  The City might need to put up a few signs; but unlike the Capital Theater goose, the Chatham-Kent tax payers will not be funding this initiative. So what is the problem, you ask?  Well, the SWRC is about to be sold for scrap and the property converted into a solar farm with a few new homes or even converted back into raw farm land.  If the city officials, the Ontario Government and the tax paying citizens of Chatham Kent let that happen, we will have another very big “dead duck” and nothing but a big goose egg for jobs!

     

    Brian Keenan

    Chairman of the

    Dealtown Casino Initiative

    Bekeen@me.com<mailto:Bekeen@me.com>

  • Media Awareness Campaign Launched in January

    It was time to launch a media and political awareness campaign after being told that it was likely that the SWRC was being targeted for a solar farm by more than one group.  In addition, there were other groups seeking to purchase the property and demolish all the buildings for their scrap value.

    I simply didn't want to see this property sold before the Drummond Report was release because there was signals coming from the Ontario Government and OLG that the moritorium on resort casino's would soon be lifted to facilitate opening a casino in Toronto.

     

  • Proposal sent to Infrastructure Ontario

    on December 9th 

    As requested by the realtor responsible for the disposal of the SWRC, a submission that outlined the plan to transform the centre into the Dealtown Casino Hotel and Retirement Village was sent to DTZ for review by Infrastructure Ontario.

    In January we were contacted and asked to submit a best and final offer on a 27 page purchase agreement.  We were unable to meet this deadline since our proposal was contingent upon the approval of a casino in Dealtown and OLG was waiting until the Drummond Report was available before meeting with us formally. 

    However, at an informal meeting with Mayor Hope, they were "cool to the idea of a casino in Dealtown."

     

  • Another letter to Chatham Daily News November 11th...

    I sent another letter to the editor expressing my disappointment in the reader response to thye previous postings in the paper.  This letter was published in late December:

     

    Disappointed over lack of Dealtown casino support

    Posted 2 months ago

    Sir: There are three types of people in this world; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. Well the "wonder what happened" group can bask in the sun and rejoice because support for the Dealtown Casino Hotel and Retirement Village has not materialized.

    The watchers watched and the wonderers wondered while I attempted to make things happen. Apparently, Chatham-Kent doesn't need the 1,500 full-time good-paying direct jobs or the construction and indirect jobs also estimated at upwards of 1-500. Apparently, local merchants and suppliers won't miss the millions of dollars that casino and resort employees, and the thousands of tourists would spend.

    I am not one to throw in the towel, but a one-man band does not play loud enough to be heard in this Municipality. Maybe I've spent too much time living in cities that get fired up when opportunity come walking in.

    Cleveland sure jumped on the casino bandwagon with their Horseshoe Casino when 11,800 applied for the first 500 dealer and supervisor positions. The table games staff will be the largest single staff at that new casino, accounting for roughly a third of the casino's 1,500 positions.

    Maybe the 100 jobs at Navistar will materialize, and maybe not. Maybe, that 900,000 square-foot complex will find another use, and maybe not. One thing is for sure Chatham needs more of those folks who make things happen.

    I'm disappointed, yes. But have I given up? No.

     

    Brian Keenan

    Merlin

     

  • My next step was to meet with the Mayor of Chatham-Kent...

    It appeared that my Dealtown Casino Initiative was getting some attention so I setup a meeting with Mayor Randy Hope.  In preparation for the meeting I prepared this introduction letter and a full powerpoint presentation showing the proposed transformation of the 16 primary buildings into the new resort property.  This overview was the focus of the meeting.

     

    To:      Randy Hope, Mayor

                Chatham-Kent

    From:  Brian Keenan, Chairman

                Dealtown Casino Initiative

    Date:   Monday, November 07, 2011

    Subject:  Overview of the Initiative

    Thank you for meeting with me to discuss my initiative to transform the deserted and abandoned Southwestern Regional Centre (SWRC) into a premier destination resort location in Chatham-Kent.  The attached two memo’s will explain why I have elected to carry the banner for this initiative and how it will bring new jobs that it can bring to our community. 

     

    The purpose of this meeting is to solicit the support and assistance from you and your business development staff.  As you know, this property has been turned over to Infrastructure Ontario (IO) who retained DTZ Barnicke to arrange the open market sale of the SWRC.  The due date for submissions is December 9th, 2011.

     

    In one of my previous ventures, I worked with all the major casino operators in Las Vegas as well as many others in the USA.  The venture provided electronic advertising throughout the casino properties, and in so doing, I personally studied the layout and people flow of hundreds of casinos.  I woke up one morning recently and realized that one of the finest casino hotel and retirement resorts could be two miles from my home on Talbot Trail.  I think it was the DTZ For Sale sign that kick started this initiative.

     

    Let me share how I envision the existing buildings at the SWRC being transformed into a destination village.  It is my belief that the existing buildings can be renovated into a facility that is second to none in Canada; one that will cater to a more senior and retired group of people.

                                                                  

    I have attached the property diagram which shows the 650,000 sq ft of built space in 29 buildings.  Let me walk you through my initial vision of our new Dealtown Casino Hotel Retirement Village:

     

    Blue Building #7 would be transformed into the main entrance with the gaming center in the west wing, the administration would be on the upper floors of the centre tower.  The two floors to the east transformed into a much needed regional medical clinic.

     

    Green Buildings #9 & 10 would contain a Retail Shopping Centre on the first floor while the second floor will house the hotel convention and meeting rooms.

     

    Yellow Buildings #11, 12, 13 and 14 will be transformed as follows:  Building 11 will be a food court with a fine dining restaurant.  Building 12 will see the current auditorium converted into a movie theater with live show stage facilities.  Building 13 will become the fitness centre and gymnasium.  Building 14 which contains the current pool will be restored to it original beauty.

     

    Brown building #15, the West Pavilion, upper and lower floors will be transformed into approximately 240 hotel suites (20 rooms per wing per floor).  The upper and lower floors of the East Pavilion will be transformed into 120 Retirement residences.

     

    The project will require the sewage treatment plant on the south side of Talbot Trail to be restored to working condition.  I also envision a scenic boardwalk being built along the top of the bluff for the visual benefits of visitors and resident guest.  Public docking might also be added down the road.

     

    In summary, here are the things that you and your staff could do to add traction to my initiative:

    1.     The folks at DTZ and Infrastructure Ontario seem to be reluctant in providing the environment assessment information for the property.  I will need this for when I meet with the possible development partners.

    2.    I need the detailed floor plans for each of the buildings, not the mechanicals at this stage, just floor plans so that sizing can be confirmed.

    3.    I need a strong supportive letter from your office that will tell my two target development partners that they are not chasing a wild goose if they commit resources to do a feasibility study.

    4.    I need access to a city staff member who can assist in getting answers to other questions as we progress further.

    5.    Finally, I need political feedback with respect to the Ontario governments position and role in this venture.

    Brian Keenan

     

  • Follow-up Letter to Chatham Daily News that was not published...

    To:      Chatham Daily News- 

    Sent the same day as my first letter was published under the heading "Reader Suggests Casino For SWRC Property"

    From:  Brian Keenan             

    Date:   Friday, November 04, 2011

    Re:      YOU WANT JOBS?

    Letter to the Editor #2

    There is a whole lot of “downtown development” going on and “YES” it is good for Chatham but who is going to occupy this residential, retail and office space?  The answer is simple, people and business’ from somewhere else in our community.  In other words, this development is just shuffling the deck but not adding new cards to it.

    Did the Capital Theater generate new jobs?  No! Did it attract new businesses to Chatham? No!  Will the new downtown residences bring new people to Chatham or just move them around?  Will all the new office space and hotel facilities bring new business’ to town or just create vacancy signs in other parts of town?

    I recently returned to Chatham after 40 years of living and working in places like, Toronto, Mississauga, Chicago, Tokyo, San Diego and Las Vegas.  The first thing I noticed was that the city had not grown, the downtown was dead, the factories were vacant and the high school graduates were leaving for university or collage somewhere else, never to return to Chatham because there are no NEW jobs.

    Yes, other cities in Ontario have suffered as well but does that mean nothing could be done? NO!  Our local leaders, and I don’t just mean the people at city hall, could and should, have done more.  When the automotive related jobs left Chatham did the leaders over the years do everything they could have to keep and bring new agriculture plants to Chatham Kent? NO, they even let that golden goose get away despite the fact that we are in the heart of Canada’s agriculture heartland.  O’ yes, our agriculture community does bring jobs to Southwestern Ontario, from Mexico, from Jamaica and from who-knows-where!

    Yes, the wind and solar energy development throughout Chatham-Kent has brought temporary jobs to our area although many of those are also from out-of-town or not permanent in nature.  Did we get any of the mega-plants that are bringing jobs to other cities in southern Ontario? NO! The problem is we think that City Hall is responsible for bringing these opportunities to town.  Yes, they have a big role in these the job creation and business retention initiatives but so do our other city leaders.

    A couple of our local business leaders and you know who they are, have invested their hard earned money into the downtown development initiative, as has an out-of-towner visionary more recently.  Why, because they see the opportunity and the potential for profit.  Thank God for capitalism!

    Can we all do more?  YES!  Do we need to be millionaires to be part of every solution? NO!  What we need to do, and that includes the small players like me and you, is to start using our combined brain power to make things happen.  I know what this means because in my 40 years away from Chatham, I made and lost millions of dollars as the founder and champion of many new ideas, like the International Computer Orphanage, like Bekeen Disaster Recovery, like Canada Computer, like SignCast and the list goes on.

    Recently I decided to become the “born again” visionary and entrepreneur that I once was. The creators of the once popular nationally syndicated Global Television series, Everybody’s Business, Kenneth Barnes and Everett Banning, once labeled me a visionary in their book “Money Makers! The Secrets of Canada’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs.”  These authors rightfully labeled me a visionary in their book.  They said that “Visionaries are sometimes, idealist; often they seem impractical, even a bit eccentric, as they push and pull the marketplace far beyond its present bounds.”  It’s been a while since that book was published and several ventures from the one that sparked their interest to write about me in that book.  In some ways I kind of wished my visionary days were behind me, but I guess it must be in my blood because I can’t stop coming up with these crazy or not so crazy ideas.

    I need to make a living and survive in these tough economic times, like everyone else.  I hope that selling real estate will cover that base!  But I owe it to myself, to my family, to my friend in Chatham, to use my many talents and vast experience to help bring NEW jobs to Chatham Kent.  To kick start this creativity, I have appointed myself the Chairman of the Dealtown Casino and Retirement Village initiative.

    Yes, I think the Southwestern Regional Centre is the perfect place to be transformed into a casino and retirement village.  Think about it; it’s already built and less money than what was thrown at the Capital Theater could kick start this initiative.  Think about it; the old regional center provided 600 full time jobs because it ran 24 by 7, 365 days of the year, just like a casino would.  The 235 acre property and 650,000 sq ft of buildings is already built and it is perfectly located to draw people from Kitchener to Kingsville.  Add a spacious RV park on the property and you will draw folks from all over to this waterfront oasis.

    I could go on and on as to why this is a great opportunity for Chatham Kent but this is not the place.  What I do ask is that you voice your opinion on this initiative and ask yourself if Chatham Kent could use 600 to 1000 new jobs, jobs that will bring our kids back home, jobs that will be created to support this facility, jobs that could replace those lost at Navistar, jobs that can fill those new condos and offices in downtown Chatham.  I need your help and support to make this happen and I need it now.

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  • Why I started the Dealtown Casino Initiative (DCI)

    On October 23, 2011 I had a "Wakeup Call" and sent the following comment to the Editor of the Chatham Daily News.  It was subsequently published as a letter to the editor.  This was the starting point of my DCI campaign.

     

    Letter to the Editor

    Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired of the way thing are going for you personally, for your family and friends, for the millions of unemployed in Canada and for whatever other cause you can think of?

     

    Well, I am also and I’ve had it with this down and out felling!  This is the day that I become the born again visionary and entrepreneur that I once was. The creators of the once popular nationally syndicated Global Television series, Everybody’s Business, Kenneth Barnes and Everett Banning, once labeled me  a visionary in their book “Money Makers! The Secrets of Canada’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs.”

     

    After many years and numerous leading edge business ventures, I returned to my roots, Chatham, Ontario where I was born and raised until my early twenties when I set out to make my fortunes.  Newly married in 2006 to the love of my life, Jo Ann, and living in Las Vegas where every day is exciting, I fell victim to a mild stroke.  Fortunately, I was later diagnosed as having Parkinson which in comparison is a blessing.  Nevertheless, health care in the US is a financial nightmare and in 2007 it drove me back Chatham, both sick and broke.

     

    After a year of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to get off my butt and do something that everyone kept telling me I would be good at, namely selling real estate. It took nearly a year to get licensed but finally I got my ticket and was asked to join Chatham-Kent’s leading brokerage, Royal LePage Peifer Realty. I went from rookie to the top ten in three years and that brings us to today, give or take a whole lot in-between.

     

    The authors of Money Makers rightfully labeled me a visionary in their book.  They said that “Visionaries are sometimes, idealist; often they seem impractical, even a bit eccentric, as they push and pull the marketplace far beyond its present bounds.”  It’s been a while since that book was published and several ventures from the one that sparked their interest to write about me in that book.  In some ways I kind of wished my visionary days were behind me, but I guess it must be in my blood because I can’t stop coming up with these crazy or not so crazy ideas.

     

    I live on Talbot Trail just west of the hamlet of Dealtown, so appropriately named.  Every day I pass by a 300 acre facility, commonly referred to as the Southwestern Regional Centre.  Opened in 1961 this provincially operated facility housed developmentally disabled adults in an institutional setting. Originally designed to accommodate children under 10 years old it was the last massive institution built in Ontario for the treatment of the mentally disabled. In 1966 there was a resident population of 1,200 and a staff of 600. By 1979 the resident population had been reduced to 620 as changes in policy emphasized the use of smaller home like facilities. Later the centre shifted to serving adults and senior citizens.  The facility closed in 2008 following the government's decision to move from institutional based services to a community based approach.

     

    Since closing, the facility and park-like property has fallen victim to neglect, vandalism and weather.  I call it a “crying shame” and a good example of how the government of Ontario under all leadership waists money.  There were rumors over the past few years that the facility would be brought back to life as a correctional institution, a seniors retirement centre and even a theme park but nothing ever came of these ideas.

     

    Remember where I lived before returning to Chatham? Yes, I lived for half a dozen years in “Sin City” Las Vegas where there are more casinos than any other city in the world.  So it was only natural for me to think that the best use of the closed Southwestern Regional Centre was for a casino.  Add to that a seniors housing facility and a RV park and the old lady has a new face.  Where better to locate Chatham-Kent’s first and only casino, but in “Dealtown!”  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist or even a visionary to arrive at this conclusion.

     

    I discussed my idea of a Dealtown Casino with some forward thinking Chathamites  who like the idea but say the government would never support such a venture because it made too much sense!  Why would the government want to support an initiative that would, could and will bring 600 to 1000 full and part time jobs to a municipality with 14% unemployment?  Why would the government want to stimulate the economy of Chatham-Kent which just lost its biggest employer; especially after they spent millions of dollars of  tax payer money in a failed attempt to keep it alive.

     

    I have never been one to walk away from an idea when people said it couldn’t be done.  If no one else will carry the flag or should I say “Roll the Dice”, I certainly will! With that said, I have named myself the Chairman of the Dealtown Casino Initiative (DCI) and will gladly invest my valuable time to bring this idea to life in our community.  Please share your thoughts with me on this initiative.

     

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