Julie Van Huizen, Ward 2

Please take a moment to read this very passionate plea from Julie Van Huizen that she submitted to her Councilor Jason Farr, the Mayor and City Manager Chris Murray.

Hi! I just wanted to thank you guys for posting citizen letters on this page. It's inspired me to write my own. At first, I was hesitant to do so, for fear I'd misquote some number or not have the data to back up my stance, but then I realized writing from my own personal experience with this city would likely be more effective (and honest). I've since emailed the attached letter to all our councils, Mayor Bratina, and Chris Murray. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

Dear Mayor Bratina and Ward Councillors,

I’m Julie Van Huizen, living in Ward 2 with my husband. While I work primarily in Ancaster at Redeemer University College as a graphic designer, I also spend a great deal of time doing freelance graphic design for businesses in downtown Hamilton. My husband walks to work at a real estate appraisal office downtown, on the corner of Main St. and MacNab St.

While neither of us were born or raised in Hamilton, we have come to love it. After meeting in university, and getting married shortly after, we made the decision to put our roots here. We bought a condo downtown, settled in, and may some day raise a family in this city.

While much has been said about the cultural and economic renaissance in Hamilton, we’re privileged to witness it at work. I see it every time I take on a project for a new small business in Hamilton. My clients range from mobile food businesses, clothing stores, music schools, and political think tanks, all of which operate in downtown Hamilton. Even in my work at Redeemer, I can see the next generation being primed to take their talents into this city. The students that study here are more aware and excited about the big city down the mountain than ever before.

I’m telling you all these things to remind you of how well my city, and your city, is doing. We are thriving - without a casino.

That said, we’re not blind the challenges this city is facing, despite all our progress. As my husband walks to work, he encounters more than a few colourful characters on his way. Many of these people are often dealing with addiction, or facing a hard battle with mental illness. These people are vulnerable.

With these two factors taken into account (the progress the city has made so far, and the hurdles so many of our citizens are still facing) I believe a casino would be absolutely detrimental to the betterment of our great city. To review:

-Casinos pull dollars away from local businesses.

-Casinos make their profit off vulnerable people.

For those two glaring reasons alone, I strongly urge the council to vote “No” to a casino in downtown Hamilton. Instead, allow this city to continue along the positive trajectory of the last couple of years, and avoid the terrible burdens a parasitic partnership with the OLG would place on so many.

Mayor Bratina, you appeared on CHCH last week and offered a few comments about the casino deliberations. You said something along the lines of this: “What does it tell people if we say no to a casino, but allow bingo halls and scratch tickets at every corner, as we already do?”

It was suggested by your tone that such a stance may appear hypocritical to outsiders, but that’s not true. Rather, that stance would tell people that you know when to draw the line. That statement would tell people that you know the world is not a black and white place, that it’s not “all or nothing”, that you understand the nuances of this city, and that you know when enough is enough.

So please, I urge you and the rest of the council: draw the line. Tell the “outsiders” that you believe in this city, so much that you don’t need to gamble on it. I’m sure Hamilton is strong enough all on its own, and I would hope that as our Mayor, you of all people would agree.

Julie Van Huizen, Ward 2