After 13 months of arguing the pros and cons of the OLG proposed casino along the Toronto waterfront, city council appears ready to make its decision. Pro-gambling advocates in the city and on council, including Mayor Rob Ford, will be disappointed to see that most councilors are siding with the majority of the public in opposing the casino.
Toronto city council comprises 45 representatives, including Mayor Ford, who all are entitled to vote on each issue. A motion will receive majority approval when 23 councilors vote yes, and anything less means the motion will be defeated. The OLG and private gambling operators spent months lobbying councilors to vote yes on the casino proposal, but the overall feeling surrounding city hall indicates that lobbying was all in vain.
Although nothing is confirmed, city hall reporters indicate that 21 councilors are publicly admitting they will vote against the casino proposal next month. Contrarily, only seven councilors, one of which being Mayor Ford himself, are publicly declaring they will vote to approve the OLG proposal. The rest of the councilors remain undecided, but reports suggest two more councilors are leaning towards the no side of the debate. If those reports prove accurate, the casino will go down in defeat.
Maria Augimeri is one of the councilors who publicly declared this week she will vote against the casino. She mentioned pro-casino organizations extensively lobbied many councilors over the last few months, but feels most of her colleagues agree that the casino isn’t in Toronto’s best interests.
“I believe that the No side, for a casino in downtown Toronto, is around the 30 mark — 30 votes No.”
Mayor Ford and other pro-casino councilors remain confident that the casino proposal will pass, but undecided councilors are unwilling to share that enthusiasm. The casino hosting fees, which the Ontario government vowed will be lower than initial promises from the OLG, are insufficient enough for councilors to vote in favour of the gaming proposal.