Sudbury struggles to get past 'mixed feelings' on casino

Some Sudbury city councillors say it's time to take a stand on where they want a new casino to be built.

Councillors debate what they want to come along with a casino, and whether they should make that known

Some Sudbury city councillors think gambling should remain at the racetrack in Azilda. Others want to see the casino downtown or in other locations. The differences in opinion is stalling city council from taking a unified stand on the issue. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Some Sudbury city councillors say it's time to take a stand on where they want a new casino to be built.

The ultimate decision will rest with the province and the private casino operator it chooses to hire. But city council can weigh in with a suggestion — if it can agree on one.

For months, the province has been quietly going through bids from private operators. Once they select a winning bid, that company will then decide where in Greater Sudbury the casino will be built.

Coun. Frances Caldarelli said she thinks it'll be easier said than done for the city to state where the casino should go and what should come with it.

"Probably not very easy at all, because I think there's lots of differing opinions," she said.

Caldarelli wants to see the casino built outside of the downtown. Other councillors agree, but only if it's going to come with a hotel and conference centre.

‘In limbo’

Others, like Coun. Claude Berthiaume, want gambling to stay out at the racetrack in Azilda. But while he thinks council should take a position, Berthiaume said he doesn't think it'll mean much in the end.

"The OLG, the way they talk, they make it sound like we would have a lot of influence on the operators, but it's their money," he said.

Coun. Joe Cimino said he thinks it's best for the city to stay quiet until the province chooses the company that will run the Sudbury casino — as it would be better to have those discussions in private with the new operator.

"I'm weary of saying to the operators out there who have their bids in, if you come to town, we want you here," he said.

But Coun. Fabio Belli said he thinks the city shouldn’t shy away from passing a resolution.

"I think we're kind of right now in limbo," he said.

"I think we have mixed feelings among councillors about what exactly they want to see in a casino. Whatever it is in the community, I think we have to come out with a resolution saying what we want in a casino."

Other Ontario cities in line for new casinos have passed similar resolutions.

But unless re-zoning of property is required, the ultimate decision will not come before city council.

The casino operator is expected to be named by the OLG later this year.