The city of Toronto holds many stylistic features in each of the neighbourhoods that collectively make up the GTA. For residents and tourists especially, Toronto is most significantly recognized by its downtown core comprising unique buildings like the CN Tower, surrounded by the rest of downtown that is perpetually a construction site. Urban development continues throughout the downtown centre of Toronto year after year with many projects expected to revitalize older neighbourhoods and bring new attraction to some less popular areas of the city.
One such development is being coordinated by Oxford Properties Group, the real estate portion of one of Canada’s largest pension funds. It would be a $3 billion investment in property development called Oxford Place situated on Front Street just across from the Rogers Centre between Simcoe Street and Blue Jays Way. However the project is contingent on the approval of a provincial casino on site currently being debated at Toronto City Hall.
The casino and its hotel would be part of the site Oxford plans to use with executive vice president Michael Kitt calling the casino “a necessary and essential catalyst for the entire development” despite it only taking up about 10 percent of the allotted land. Without the casino Kitt hints the investment may not go ahead at all.
The casino would be operated by a private developer chosen by the Ontario government, working together with the City of Toronto and Oxford Properties Group if its proposed site is chosen for the casino. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has said it needs an answer from Toronto by the beginning of next year for the project to go ahead; although the Ontario government has added it will not pressure any community into accepting the casino.
However Toronto councilors seem torn on the idea and just this week, the Ontario legislature has showed it is not unified behind the proposal either. Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath has put forward a motion for a referendum on municipal elections in 2014, a motion that now appears to be supported by fellow Opposition Leader Tim Hudak of the Conservatives.
“Our position on the Toronto casino is very simple. Any community that wants to have a casino should have a referendum.”
With so much political weight being put on the casino’s development, Oxford Properties may need to amend its investment plans for Toronto’s core. Otherwise the city may risk losing $3 billion in development funds.