Public consultations to be held over proposed casino
Toronto residents will get the chance to give their input on a proposed casino, after the city’s executive committee approved a series of public consultations on the controversial gambling and entertainment complex Monday evening.
The committee decided to launch the consultations after a lengthy meeting chaired by Mayor Rob Ford.
Ford has openly supported the casino, which he says can bring millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the city.
A report by city manager Joe Pennachetti released last week states Toronto could see as much as $27 million generated annually from an entertainment complex in property taxes alone. A standalone casino is expected to generate up to $10 million.
The report also estimates the city will reap between $0.8 billion and $2.4 billion in new construction spending, as many as 7,300 new jobs.
The profit to the city from leasing or selling land for a casino is pegged at $250 million and an estimated hosting fee between $32 million to $168 million could be generated yearly.
The report looked at three potential locations for a downtown casino including the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Exhibition Place and the Portlands.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has so far refused to say what the final benefit to the province would be, stating that it cannot give an estimate until it knows where the casino will be located.
“Until we know the location of the facility, it’s really impossible to speculate,” said OLG president Rod Phillips.
However, not everyone at city hall is on board with the casino proposal and some councillors and residents have asked for a referendum on the issue.
Coun. Adam Vaughn told reporters Monday that the OLG is demanding too much of the city.
“We ask OLG and they say ‘Agree to the casino first and we’ll tell you what you get later,’” said Vaughn. “You wouldn’t make that deal on any issue affecting any part of your life.”
Meanwhile, city residents continue to have mixed feelings over the proposed casino.
“I think it could bring in more revenue for the city, I think it’s great,” said one female resident. “If people want to gamble then let them.”
One male resident told CTV Toronto he opposes the idea.
“I’ve seen too many people lose their houses … so many things because of gambling. It’s just no good,” he said.
Pennachetti’s report also included findings from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, who said with a casino will cause an increase in problem gambling, which affects about 0.2 per cent of the population.
During Monday’s meeting, Dr. Nigel Turner, of the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, pointed out that three per cent Ontarians, and 11,000 in Toronto, suffer from a gambling problem.
Since the OLG Head Paul Godfrey and Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced plans last March to generate an additional $1.3 billion in annual revenue through the creation of a privately built gambling venue in the Toronto area, a number of casino resort companies have expressed interest in running the facility.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Colin D’Mello