The Toronto casino debate earlier this year was an issue that divided Canada’s largest city into two equally boisterous groups. While the motion was eventually struck down in an overwhelming 40 – 4 vote at Toronto city hall, one city councilor is determined to reignite the debate.
Councilor Doug Ford, brother of embattled Mayor Rob Ford, believes the city should revisit the casino proposal for Woodbine racetrack. Speaking at city hall this week, Ford stated he believed Woodbine was unfairly lumped in with the vehement opposition to the downtown Toronto casino proposal championed by the OLG.
“Woodbine Racetrack ended up suffering because there was so much focus on the downtown leading to a ‘No casino anywhere’ vote result. Again, I’m just hearing and I could be wrong because council changes their mind, that people aren’t opposed to Woodbine.”
The OLG floated the idea of two casinos in the GTA, one in development for the downtown core and the other in one of the outlying regions of the city. Most of the debate, and the opposition was centred on the downtown proposal, and councilors ultimately heeded the call of constituents by voting overwhelmingly 40 – 4 against the casino, with one councilor abstaining.
But there was also a vote on the proposal for Woodbine racetrack, where the OLG already houses over 3,000 slot machines. The vote against the Woodbine casino was more divisive in a 24 – 20 tally, but effectively closed the Toronto casino debate for the time.
Following the votes, the OLG shifted their focus to other communities in the GTA. Vaughan was considered the region most likely to accept the casino, but councilors struck the proposal down in a very close vote last week.
Councilor Ford believes that with the OLG casino now shut out of the GTA, the Woodbine proposal deserves a second chance to stand alone without the affiliation with the downtown casino.
“We either wait a year until we can do that or we figure out another way of putting a motion on the table. A lot of people say they have no problem with Woodbine, so we’ll see what happens.”