Waterloo regional council has voted to officially voice its opposition to bringing a gaming facility to the region, a vote that has now taken on considerable significance after Premier Kathleen Wynne signaled her dissatisfaction with the casino allocation process.
Regional council voted 10-5 Wednesday night in favour of a motion that formally declared opposition to a new casino anywhere in the region.
"I think regional council had a responsibility and a duty to say to the province what it thought about having a casino here in the region," said Regional Chair Ken Seiling, who tabled the motion. "And they spoke by a majority vote tonight to say they don't want one here."
The impetus from the motion came from a March vote by Woolwich Township council to try to work with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to develop a casino within its borders.
Seiling's motion was once considered largely symbolic. Under the current provincial rules, the Ontario and Lottery only needs approval from a municipality — such as Woolwich — not a regional government such as Waterloo Region in order to proceed with a potential casino development.
But the vote on Seiling's motion in regional council could be far more significant in light of comments made by Wynne in Waterloo Wednesday.
'I don't think there's enough clarity'
"I'm concerned about this," Wynne told reporters.
"I do think that this is a problem when you've got municipalities with overlapping jurisdictions and I don't think there's enough clarity on whose decision this should be," she said.
"I would certainly be asking the OLG to review this situation."
However, the premier stopped short of personally wading into the review process, urging the Crown corporation to come up with its own solution.
"I would be looking at OLG to come up with a systematic response to this because I think it is something we have to look at," she said.
OLG said it was not yet prepared to comment on Wynne’s remarks.
Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan, meanwhile, will continue the casino pursuit for now.
"Unless we hear differently from the province, we're just going to continue moving forward," he said.
Last May, OLG identified 29 "gaming zones" that cover every area of the province, asking prospective developers to submit proposals.
Kitchener council is expected to vote on Monday whether it wants to attract a casino to the city. Waterloo and Cambridge council have already said they are not interested in casino development.