Communities in the surrounding GTA defined their positions on the casino proposals this week. The city of Markham, following the lead of councilors in Toronto, rejected the casino, but Vaughan councilors voted in favour of opening negotiations with the OLG.
Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua remained relatively quiet on the casino file ever since the OLG announced its modernization strategy in March, 2012. The focus of the OLG’s expansion plans was to develop a casino in downtown Toronto, provided city councilors approved the motion. Last week, Toronto council voted overwhelmingly against the proposal, which opened the door for other communities in the GTA.
Bevilacqua put the casino file to a vote, and the majority of councilors agreed to the proposal. Following the council vote, Bevilacqua issued a statement identifying Vaughan’s goals in regards to the casino.
“Council’s decision reflects our commitment to becoming a key economic development driver of the GTA by creating jobs, encouraging investment and pursuing opportunities that will enhance our quality of life and standard of living.”
The file included two proposed locations for the casino. One location in consideration is the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, which would undergo redevelopment to host the casino in a similar manner as the Toronto Metropolitan Centre if the casino had been approved.
The other location is at Jane Street, located near the off-ramp of Highway 407, which will become one of the newest extensions of the Spadina subway line across the GTA. The subway is scheduled to open in 2016, and Vaughan councilors see merit in establishing the casino near a location that is convenient for gamers across the GTA.
However, the final decision on the location lies with the Ontario government. Premier Kathleen Wynne, admittedly not a gambling enthusiast, confirmed the OLG modernization strategy will continue as planned. But she also stressed the government will make its decision on a location based on the recommendations of city councils, including in Vaughan.