HENDRIK OP’T ROOT ARCHITECT LTD.“THE ARCHITECT”
HENDRIK OP’ T ROOT ARCHITECT LTD’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE CASINO RAMA SELECTION
In the spring of 1992 the NDP Government announced the casino initiative. Since that time the focus of my company Hendrik Op’ T Root Architect Limited has been on casinos. I always had a special interest in hotels, resorts and casinos.
I endeavored to find out, learn, see about casinos, and I have seen, studied in part, about 50 casinos. In 1992, I made initial contact with casino operators. Presentations were made to the Mayor on October 21, 1992, of the City of Niagara Falls; on December 7, 1992 to the Committee of the Whole in Niagara Falls. On November 10, 1992 a presentation was made to the Ontario Government Casino Project’s team. On November 26, 1992 a presentation was made to the Mayor of the City of Windsor.
During this time I had the pleasure of being trained by gaming experts on many aspects related to casino design. The Northern star was created as a result.
All this prior to any RFP requests. Gaming in Ontario was still in its infancy.
Through a contract I became involved with, Bally Manufacturing Corporation (“Bally”), I was not selected to do the design of the Windsor Casino for the RFP (Request For Proposal). Moshe Safdie was chosen by “Bally”.
The reason was that my company was not known enough. I did work on part of the RFP as it pertained to the upgrading and renovation of the Windsor Raceway.
Again, I gained experience working with Bally.
“Bally” did short-list for the casino in Windsor. “Bally” did not win.
My relationship with “Bally” was re-established.
On September 21, 1993, I was asked by Bally to resubmit a list of architects for the RAMA casino and to submit a resume of my firm too.
I visited the RAMA site first on September 20, 1993 and met Mr. Ted Williams, the Administrator of the RAMA Reserve.
Bally invited me to come to Las Vegas and to study their in great details, and various sets of casino drawings were provided.
THE CHIPPEWAS OF RAMA FIRST NATION – “RAMA”
At the time of the visit I obtained all relevant boundary surveys from Kathryn R. Simcoe (RAMCOR). Ted mentioned at the time that a game plan was required to inform the community of the casino process by reputable persons.
Ted stated also that he was formulating his approach. I understood that an election at RAMA would be held on January 25, 1994. Norm Stinson was re-elected as Chief with a small margin.
The deadline for submission to the Independent Selection Committee chosen by the Aboriginal People was March 1, 1994. A couple of weeks before that date I was asked and selected to do the design (February 13, 1994). Within a couple days I made a presentation to Council and the Chief at the airport in Toronto. Bally attended as well, including their agent. The date was February 17, 1994.
I presented the outline “Conceptual Approach to the Design & Overall Approach” to the project. The “turtle” was a driving image in the design.
RAMA representatives were impressed and I obtained the go-ahead from all to proceed and finish the design in the next 10 days.
On February, 24, 1994 RAMCOR Developments provided me with plans of the “Ojibway Bay Master Plan” (Co-ordinator Joseph C. Snache). The design was presented again to all on February 26, 1994. Everybody was ecstatic (“Bally’s”, RAMA Councillors, Chief Norm Stinson, Ted Williams and Mark Douglas).
Early March 1994 I was requested to prepare and to make a presentation to Council of Orillia to explain the project. The design boards were exhibited, and liked quite a bit. (The boards did convince the Councillors). It took months for the Government/Aboriginal people’s representatives to complete the make-up of the Independent Selection Committee.
On July 7, 1994 the panel requested a presentation and site visit on July 14, 1994. On March 14, 1994 Ted Williams requested all the “duplicate” information boards (11 # in total). A similar set was prepared for the Aboriginal Gaming Section as the official submission.
(Within a couple of weeks). Ted needed the boards to take to surrounding reserves in order to gain their support.
On June 7, 1994 Ted noted that there was good public feedback. Proposal of RAMA would go to the P.A.C. (Planning Advisory Committee) of the City of Orillia and in two weeks to Orillia Council for endorsement of the RAMA casino proposal. The proposal was on Barrie TV.
On July 13, 1994 extensive meetings were held prior to the actual visit by the Site Selection Committee. I advised RAMA regarding the site route to take. “RAMA” called me the project architect. At the presentation Ted Williams, Norm Stinson, Mark Douglas and Ken Snache attended. The design boards were exhibited and explained. Some of the panel members approached me and stated they liked the design.
On July 29, 1995 the architect met with Kathy Simcoe, Jo Snache, Ralph Tulipano, and Mark Douglas re: interim casino in the existing industrial building. Because of the many infrastructure-related questions, the architect recommended to “Bally” to further investigate the services and document the findings.
The architect would discuss this further with Ted Williams.
On August 8, 1994 a report by P.A.C. (Planning Advisory Council) would go to Council of Orillia.
Around that time Ralph Tulipano came into the picture. Note that Ted Williams is head of the casino implementation team now. And Ralph Tulipano is in charge of the RFP and is called project manager. On August 26, 1994 Ted Williams was advised by the Selection Committee to expect questions by outside experts. (An Information Package of 17 faxes was received from Ted Williams.
Another problem came up, Council was disbanded by Order-in-Council of the Privy Council (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). The Chief and Council were requested to terminate all services.
An election at RAMA was held on September 6, 1994, re-elected were 3 incumbent councilors Ken Snache, Charles M. Snache and Arnold Ingersoll.
Margaret St. Germaine and Shawn Williams (Ted’s brother) were new councillors.
Lorraine McRae became the new chief. New Council ordered a plebiscite on the issue of the casino. Bally’s organized to have over 100 natives visit Foxwood Casino in the States. On September 20, 1994 the architect attended a public meeting on the issue (see minutes).
A very negative pamphlet on casino was received. On September 27, 1994 another public meeting was held. Hendrik made a presentation. All the boards were exhibited and explained. Questions were posed and answered. On September 21, 1994 Hendrik sent 150 colour copies of renderings for general distribution in RAMA. The vote was held on or about September 26, 1994. Three hundred eligible voters, the vote was 165 yes and 68 no. (Article Star, September 27, 1994).
On November 3, 1994 a short-list was announced.
On November 23, 1994 Ted mentioned that last Friday the Selection Committee met the community.
On November 23, 1995 Ted also said … “we got her”. Announcement was made December 5, 1995. RAMA was successful and a lot of TV coverage, newspaper coverage ensued. The design was unveiled, used, distributed, and shown.Winning Casino Rama Design