The Toronto municipal election is heating up, with perceived frontrunner Olivia Chow officially entering the race to replace disgruntled incumbent Rob Ford. The candidates are discussing a variety of issues around the city in the hopes of standing out amongst voters to win the coveted mayor’s seat.
But one issue that may make its way onto the ballot box is the Toronto casino. The casino proposal was first drafted by the OLG, which considered Toronto the jewel in the crown of its gambling modernization strategy.
However, councilors voted overwhelmingly against the casino in a vote last May, with Ford and a few other close allies the only supporters of the plan. Since then, the casino debate has shifted to the background among key Toronto issues, but some residents and business advocates refuse to let the idea go.
Councilors are currently being lobbied by real estate and business development groups to vote in favour of the casino as a ballot box question. These special interest groups would benefit greatly from having the casino established in town, with the most popular destination at the grounds of Exhibition Place – the favoured location during the initial casino proposal.
Convincing councilors to put the casino on the ballot box may be a challenge. Adam Vaughan, a representative in downtown Toronto who was among the most vocal opponents of the casino, believes Torontonians are unlikely to want the issue on the ballot.
“The casino has about as much luck getting approved in a referendum as Rob Ford does getting re-elected mayor.”
Ford has said he prefers placing the casino as well as other municipal issues on the ballot. Chow has not addressed the casino, while other mayoral candidates have yet to voice their opinions.