Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Dangers of Unlicensed B&B's

We haven't written a Blog post in quite some time, but in light of what is going on in the B&B industry right now we felt that it was time to try to spread the word. Currently the world is facing a sudden outbreak of private residences listing their homes for rent on sites like Air BnB. Stratford is no exception. Unfortunately many of these newly listed B&B's are not adhering to local licencing requirements. B&B Licensing was implemented in Stratford in 2005 to eliminate dangerous or shoddy accommodations. With this new booking and rental trend it is evident that we as a city are at risk of returning to the problems we rectified in the past. These unlicensed properties are not only breaking city by-laws of licensing and zoning, they are also not meeting parking, fire safety, insurance requirements, and business licensing requirements as set out by the city as well. Travellers wouldn't book to stay in a hotel that didn't meet fire code regulations so why would you stay at a B&B that isn't meeting those same requirements? Understandably like uber taxi's, and other new on-line business trends this is a huge and difficult problem. The city of Paris France is now in the process of taking AirB-B to court as their city has the most unlicensed properties being advertised anywhere in the world. Stratford is in a rather special situation because it has an existing B&B licensing requirement in place, much like the city of San Diego. Last August a judge sided with the city of San Diego and a local resident of that city was fined nearly $25,000 for operating a bed-and-breakfast establishment without the necessary permits. Furthermore there is a common misconception as to who requires a licence in our city. Stratfords city bylaws clearly state “ACCESSORY GUEST ROOM means a habitable room intended for sleeping accommodation, with or without meals, that is provided for a fee and that is clearly incidental, secondary and subordinate to the single detached dwelling within which it is situated.” The bylaws continue by saying “No person shall use a building or operate as an Accessory Guest Room, Bed and Breakfast establishment/or Guest Home unless they hold a valid licence issued by the City of Stratford pursuant to this by-law.” So that means anyone renting out a room in their house for money requires a licence. Should there be an accident, or heaven forbid a fire in one of these unlicensed properties who would be liable. The individual home owners insurance would be declined because the home was being used as a business. AirBnB does cary insurance for properties that list with them, but in the fine print on their site it states that properties listing on the site must comply with local laws and licensing requirements. So once it comes to light that the property is unlicensed in a city that requires licensing their insurance coverage would be defunct as well. Recently the City of Stratford has published adds to remind citizens that there are existing bylaws and licensing requirements in Stratford, and that if they are found operating a B&B or guest house without a licence they are potentially at risk of a fine of $5000 as set out in the city bylaws. SO guests....... Please be wise. Before you book a B&B please ask if it is licensed or at the very least insured. B&B's are a wonderful way to travel, but please be safe.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stratford Summer Music 2013 - Highlights not to be missed

Summer Music is Stratfords other festival and each and every year they provide an amazing lineup of world renowned musical entertainment. Last year the acclaimed Gramaphone Magazine listed this festival as one of the top twelve summer music festivals in North America alongside major players like New York. The festival runs July 15 to August 25. After listening to a presentation by Artistic Producer John Miller here are a few highlights that should not be missed. Recently a group of Canadian Jazz icons got together to perform at a fundraiser. They soon discovered that one of the things they all had in common is that they had all been awarded the Royal Order of Canada. This group now calls themselves Canadian Jazz Legends of the Highest Order and they will be performing a cabaret at the church restaurant. Tickets are $85 including dinner, or $40 for the show only. A group of young opera performers that have been touring Ontario by bicycle will be giving several pay what you can performances at Revel Cafe. Acordian player Joseph Macerollo will be doing a concert series at Rundles Restaurant featuring selections from his time working with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Edith Piaf. Miller is also very excited to present the Vienna boys choir this year. He states that it is very rare for this choir to do multiple performances in one location. Now in their 600th year the choir is one of the oldest and most renowned choirs in the world. On July 30 the choir will be joined by internationally acclaimed Canadian tenor, Michael Schade. Miller states that anywhere else in the world a ticket to a concert of this caliber could cost hundreds of dollars, but at this festival it is a steal of a deal at $50. In a tribute to composer Murray Schafer who will be celebrating his 80th birthday during the festival there will be a repeat of his Music Wilderness Lake. In this work 12 trombones play a haunting melodic conversation on the shores of the Avon and sunrise. This is then followed by an aria sung from a canoe by soprano Brooke Dufton. A few years ago we took our guests down to see this performance and it was breathtaking. It is probably one of our most memorable experiences in Stratford and we would highly recommend you experience it for yourself. Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay will also be performing. These young people play instruments built from recycled trash. There story is amazing but it would take me pages to tell it all so please click on the links below to get the details. Recycled Orchestra video 1 Recycled Orchestra video 2 For a complete list of events or for ticket information please visit the; Stratford Summer Music Festival website

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tommy Rocked Our World

Unfortunately we are really behind in terms of our theatre attendance this year, but last Thursday night we started our season off with a bang. The very first note of this years production of Tommy makes the entire audience levitate out of their seats and from that point on you spend the rest of the first act on the edge of your seat trying to take it all in. If you liked Des McAnuff's "Jesus Christ Superstar" two years ago this production is that one time ten. The opening segment of the production is a master class on prologue. They manage to tell you the entire back story in a matter of moments without any dialogue. BRILLIANT! For us there were several standout performances. In his Stratford debut Robert Markus plays a stunning Tommy and he is sure to make a lot of young ladies swoon. Kira Guloien brings a an element of warmth and understanding to the role of Mrs. Walker. Jewelle Blackman is hot, hot, hot. Steve Ross plays the icky uncle very well, and finally welcome back Mr Paul Nolan it is great to see you back in Stratford. Nolans role in this production is the polar opposite of his role as Jesus but he plays it with total conviction and that is one of the many reasons why we love him. Some criticisms we have heard is that once again like J.C.S. it was too loud, we never thought that at all, it might have something to do with where you sit so choose your seats wisely. Besides you are going to see a Rock Opera by the Who you should be expecting loud. Also some patrons say the video wall is too distracting. We felt that it was a great modern update to the production. It is as if the video scenery is another dimensional layer to the production and I saw it as the back up ensemble to the entire show at times quite literally. So needless to say get your tickets soon because this one is going to be a hit people. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Weight Wathchers Petit Fours

I haven't made a blog entry in some time, but I thought that this waas worth telling people about. For Christmas Ross gave me a Petit Fours Pan, yes it seems like an odd gift, but I actually asked for it. With the Oscars coming up we are planning to have a few friends over so I decided it was time to put my new pan to work. Thinking about our guests that are on weight watchers I also wanted to make a sweet treat that was low in points so I decided to try something new. If you are on weight watchers you may have heard of a recipe that uses a cake mix and a can of diet soda! Yes you read right. I decided I would try this in my Petit Fours pan, crazy I know but if it works it will be amazing. So as I said the recipe is just a cake mix and a can of diet soda. The pan directions said to use cooking spray and flour so I did that liberally. Then I filled each cup 3/4 full of batter. Place in a pre heated oven at 325 for 25 minutes or until they are starting to brown. Let cool, and then carefully remove from pan. The batch of batter made forty-eight petit fours so they only work out to one point each. So I wont feel bad dusting them with a little icing sugar, or you could do cinnamon or cocoa for no extra points. I just think this is a little wild. Hope you enjoy them. P.S. I also tried a chocolate batch, but didn't like the marks that flowering the pan left on the cake. So I tried just using a lot on non stick spray and they came out wonderfully

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald Performs at Hughson Hall

We had the opportunity to host one of Ross' former students Michael Bernard Fitzgerald for a small concert. Twenty friends attended this intimate concert, It was a lovely evening and we all enjoyed the performance. Thanks to Michael, Jess, Andrew & Josh for sharing their talents with us.


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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Locals Know - Jesus Christ Superstar



Both Andrew Lloyb Webber and Tim Rice have made the treck to Stratford to see this production, and now that we have seen it we know why. Yes all the hype is true. This is a huge hit and you shouldn't miss this one. Webber was quoted as saying the show is “very probably the best acted performance of the show I have ever seen.
Paul Nolan & Josh Young do an outstanding job in carring the show. The strength of this production seems to be infectious because the rest of the ensemble carries the show with equaled strength of the leads. This show has a very fast tempo and drive. There are no pauses required for audience approval. There was so much energy on this set it seemed like the cast would have delivered the same performance even if there was no audience in the seats.

The set of this production is amazing. It isn't a lavish Shakespearean set, but a high tech set that one would expect to see at a rock concert. How this set is used, manipulated and worked is in itself a Tony award winning performance. The transitions and set changes are awe inspiring. The sense of speed, angst and purpose that carried every transition was almost palatable. The updated costumes and choreography were also a plus.


Act 1 flew by so quickly we thought it was minutes.

Yes I will admit it, I am gushing. Simply put, GO SEE THIS SHOW.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Locals Know - The Merry Wives of Windsor


Last week I had the pleasure of seeing the Merry Wives of Windsor with a dear friend. I asked her if she would be so kind as to write us a review. She did such a wonderful job, and I agree with her whole heartedly. Therefore I will post her review in its entirety.

Yay for good friends and good theatre.

The Merry Wives of Windsor was a scrumptious, and unexpected, treat! And one of the best performances by an entire cast that I can remember. Each player was equally as good as the next, and honestly, the word "good" doesn't do them credit; they all performed exceptionally well. In fact, it's difficult not to rave about every one of them, but I'll endeavour to pick out a few highlights:

First, it's interesting to note that this is one of the only plays that Shakespeare set in London and, I believe, the only play that he wrote entirely in prose, which explains why MW is extremely accessible (meaning, easy to understand), because it is not riddled with poetic dialogue. Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth asked the bard to write a play about her beloved character, Falstaff, and that in this play the fat knight should be in love. Oh, and the play must be ready in two weeks! The result: a rich comedy -- a precursor to the modern-day sit-com -- full of farcical moments, and ridiculous characters!

Geraint Wyn Davies captures the character of Sir John Falstaff so completely, you quite forget that he's not a real person! And Davies imbues this delightful character with a warmth that is undeniable. You are drawn into his delusion that, although obese and quite unattractive, he can attract and seduce two lovely married women by sending them an ill-written love letter (the same one to each). And as he endures humiliation after comedic humiliation, you grow to love the fat knight more... and more.

Equally impressive performances are given by the "Wives", Lucy Peacock and Laura Condlln, who capture the wit and high spirits of their characters, drawing you in to their delightful scheme to undermine the would-be seducer, Falstaff. Their complicity is tangible, and you are caught up in their glee as each plot unfolds to repay Falstaff for jeopardizing their honour, and insulting them by sending identical letters!

Although the entire cast shone, it would be unfair not to mention Tom Rooney's absolutely delicious portrayal of the outrageously jealous husband, Master Ford. To learn whether his wife is indeed being unfaithful, Rooney's character disguises himself in foppish clothes and a ridiculous wig; it's a pleasure to watch as Rooney escalates his character's manic jealousy scene after scene, with superb comic timing. If you saw his performance in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", you will understand; Tom Rooney has a superlative talent for comedy.

Nigel Bennett is also hysterically funny with his almost unintelligible French accent, and Christopher Prentice does a great job of bringing Master Slender's stupendous stupidity to life!

I could go on and on and on... each character was played so well, it seems unfair not to mention every single one of them! Suffice to say that MW is a wonderful, funny play, very easy to understand (even for those who aren't fans of Shakespeare), and ideal for any age! Even the high school students who filled most of the audience the day I saw it were laughing... and at the right spots!