Sudbury city council was told last night it can play a major role in where a casino is built in the city and what comes with it — but that doesn't mean the city makes the final decision.
A new casino could transform Sudbury, especially if it came with a convention centre, new OHL arena or other items on council's wish list. But city councillors like Terry Kett say they feel the province might make those decisions without council input — and that the city hasn’t been dealt a hand in this decision-making game.
"How are you looking after us? I can see you looking after OLG and the Ontario government and a lot of money coming in for there, but how do we know you're on our side?"
That’s the question Kett asked the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission’s Jake Pastore.
Pastore told council that OLG will decide which casino company gets the contract, but Greater Sudbury can help to pair that developer up with a local land owner.
"What we're encouraging municipalities to do is actually play a bit of a match-making role," he said.
Pastore said the city can make it clear what kind of entertainment complex it wants, something that will help the OLG pick the right casino company.
"Be in a position to articulate what the position of council is," he said.
But that could be easier said than done.
Some councillors want gambling to stay in Azilda at Sudbury Downs, others favour the downtown and others say anywhere but the downtown.
Mayor Marianne Matichuk noted Sudbury wants more than just a place to gamble.
"What I'm hearing from people in our community — and also from councillors here — is that we want more than a black box," she said.
"We want value-added for our community."
That will all be sorted out, one way or another, in the coming months as casino plans are expected to be finalized by this fall.