A Hamilton city councilor is feeling the heat for remarks he made about the downtown core not being “a part of anyone’s neighbourhood”. Ward 8 Councilor Terry Whitehead, who previously argued for a Hamilton Mountain public consultation forum on the casino, riled more feathers last week in discussion with downtown social activist Matt Jelly about the casino. According to Jelly, Whitehead said he “should move to the mountain” if he is so adamantly against living near a casino, which has fueled claims that Whitehead is disconnected with Hamilton residents he is supposed to represent.
The OLG has proposed a casino for the Hamilton community, preferably in the downtown core defined as the encompassed area of Queen Street east to Wellington Street, and Hunter Street north to Cannon Street. Whitehead has expressed his support for the casino proposal especially in the downtown region. However, his remarks that “downtown is heavily subsidized by all taxpayers” and all taxpayers entitled to opinions on how a casino could “continue to drive taxes down” for the entire community. He also mentioned that over 50,000 community residents leave Hamilton to gamble in other jurisdictions, proving casinos have been accepted by Ontarians and that Hamilton should keep money from local residents in the community.
“It is here in Ontario and I be damned if the other communities benefit at our taxpayers’ expense.”
However, Jelly says reports from the public health officers of Hamilton and Toronto that warn of residents becoming addicted to gambling by living in close proximity to a casino should not be taken lightly. Jelly was particularly angered by Whitehead’s statement that people shouldn’t live downtown if they are against a casino, and that “downtown has more people working there than living there”. Jelly says this kind of flippant attitude to the downtown area will discourage people from living in the core, and allow crumbling infrastructure to continue.
Hamilton has been given until February, 2013 to vote in support or against the casino proposal, but the community is evenly divided on the idea, and Whitehead’s comments have exposed an even greater divisiveness between upper and lower mountain opinions.