Ottawa’s plans for a casino in the region are proving to be a controversial stance as lines are being drawn both in support for the casino and support against the casino. Naturally there would be debate and disagreement from some residents and policy groups in the area; some advocates would like the proposed sight of the Rideau Carlton Raceway to remain as is, while others would like the casino idea scrapped entirely.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Studies would like city council to do a thorough review of what the costs and benefits of hosting a casino in the area will be; specifically how it will affect local businesses and problem gamblers in the area. The think tank, which is traditionally right-of-centre, is making its case before Ottawa city council meets on Wednesday to vote on the next process of establishing a casino; last week, a Finance and Economic Development Committee voted in favour of asking the OLG to seek potential operators, with council’s approval now needed for the proposal to be ratified.
Mike Patton the Policy Centre’s director of provincial and municipal affairs, says that council can’t rush into this decision without getting a thorough, detailed analysis of the ramifications. He says political influence should not be interfering with council’s ability to do their jobs for the city of Ottawa.
“I think councilors are being pressured by both the mayor and Queen’s Park to hurry up. There’s no compelling reason that this has to happen this week.”
Patton encourages council to take the time for other development ideas to be brought to life, including whether a casino established further from the Raceway might be of greater benefit to the city. The Raceway was reported to have earned the city over $4 million in 2011; Patton says because this income will continue to come in, it won’t hurt to take the time for a proper study.
Patton also says that while his organization is traditionally conservative, they are not pushing for a rejection of the casino; simply an extended review process to make sure the right decision is made.
“Let’s get the results of the study first, look at the results, then vote.”