Ford: Casino deal 'dead' without $100M a year for city
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford took a firm stance on a proposed downtown casino, stating that without a guarantee of at least $100 million a year in revenue for the city, the deal is “dead.” But under a new funding formula, the city would get around $53.7 million a year.
Speaking to the media Thursday afternoon from City Hall, Ford said a special debate on the issue -- scheduled to take place next Tuesday -- is being delayed until June 11 because the province has not come forth with a funding formula detailing how much the city would reap from hosting a casino.
He said Premier Kathleen Wynne has not been clear on Ontario’s commitment, despite the city’s near-daily request for specific revenue-sharing information.
In March, Wynne warned the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. against cutting Toronto a special deal in terms of hosting fees, saying it would not be fair to Ontario’s other municipalities.
But on Thursday, Ford said he would not consider the casino otherwise.
“If the province won’t agree to that $100 million, then folks the deal is dead,” he said. “We’re not going to carry on with the casino debate.”
“I will not ask council to go through a very divisive and gruelling debate next week to approve a casino that the premier is no longer interested in,” Ford continued, adding that he has asked the city clerk to reschedule Tuesday’s meeting until the next council meeting in June.
“At that time I expect to recommend that council simply receive the city manager’s report for information and take no further action.”
The mayor, who has been a vocal proponent of the casino, said he is not “married” to the idea of a casino and never campaigned on the issue.
He added that it was the province who asked the city to consider hosting a casino a year ago, and since then city staff have put in hundreds of hours of work looking into the issue.
Ford said the casino revenues would’ve been put towards transit infrastructure, Toronto Community Housing repairs and improving local parks and community spaces.
Ford’s remarks came hours after Finance Minister Charles Sousa confirmed that the OLG had given him a revised revenue-sharing formula for cities that host gaming facilities.
Sousa initially would not say when the details of the new formula would be released, but CTV Toronto’s Paul Bliss confirmed with the minister that under the new agreement, the city would get around $53.7 million a year.
Earlier on Thursday, Sousa said Toronto should not decide on the issue based on how much money it would bring in, but rather on if it wants a casino or not. He said he wasn’t prepared to give Toronto a “huge hosting fee” at the expense of other municipalities.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Natalie Johnson and Paul Bliss and files from The Canadian Press