Nearly half of Toronto’s city councilors entrenched themselves firmly against the OLG casino proposal only days prior to Mayor Rob Ford’s casino sub-committee meeting. The sub-committee is debating the conclusions laid out in a city staff report released earlier this month, and recommendations at the committee will then pass onto the entire city council for a final vote. But with opposition mounting, Ford indicated he will take the motion to the polls if the final vote is against the proposal.
“It’s either no or yes. If it’s a yes, thank you very much, appreciate your support for creating 10,000 good-paying jobs. And if it’s a no, then I guess that becomes an election issue.”
The casino sub-committee is a two day meeting that began yesterday, and will conclude after a final debate today. Over 200 people, including community advocates, casino lobbyists, and union workers registered to speak at the committee hearing. After the committee took a break for lunch, Ford, after walking face first into a camera, suggested he will put the casino on the next municipal electoral ballot in 2014 if council ultimately rejects the proposal.
However, even Ford’s most loyal supporters on council question the mayor’s determination to reignite the casino debate next year. The OLG extended the deadline for Toronto to make its decision until this spring, but OLG chairman Paul Godfrey confirms there won’t be another extension. If Toronto does reject the proposal, Godfrey says the OLG will partner with another community surrounding the GTA.
Councilors on both sides are seemingly exhausted by the debate, and admit to simply wanting closure. Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong believes residents won’t tolerate if council decides to drag the debate out for another year.
“I think the residents of the City of Toronto want us to have a full debate, make a decision and move on.”
Ford continues to actively support the casino, proclaiming the 10,000 good paying jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for the city are worth the OLG gaming facility.