Toronto councillors prepare as casino debate nears end

Toronto city councillors will hear a report from the city manager later this week on whether or not to build a casino in the city. That will be followed by a vote next month.
The debate over whether to build a casino in Toronto is nearing an end. 1:59

The debate over whether to build a casino resort in Toronto was front and centre at city hall Tuesday — and so was the woman who managed to stop a similar development in Vancouver.

To help push the 'no' message Sandy Garossino, who helped stop a casino in Vancouver, was in town to offer her advice about the negative effects.

"What we are seeing now is a turbo-charged industry that is just a giant milking machine of the population," she said. 

Garossino led the 'Vancouver No Vegas' movement and came to Toronto to explain how she stopped the mega-casino from coming to Vancouver.

"We got a unanimous vote at Vancouver City Council three months after everyone told us it was a done deal," Garossino said.

Toronto City Council hasn't made a decision yet but it seems many councillors and city leaders have already decided which way they will vote.

"We should be very skeptical of the numbers, some can be too good to be true, some in fact are false and have no basis," said Coun. Mike Layton. 

Former Toronto mayor David Crombie is against the casino as well.

"They use numbers that are, well, fantastic. They are fantastic numbers because they are not believable," said Crombie.

The casino industry has pushed hard.  All of the big Vegas players have made flashy pitches for a casino at either the Metro Toronto Convention Centre or on the CNE grounds.

"Has there been a lot of pressure? Yes," said Jennifer Keesmaat the city's chief planner.

"Because what is being proposed is extremely significant and could have big impacts.  So we want to do our due diligence, so there aren't any unintended outcomes." 

So far one of the few consistent supporters of a downtown casino has been Mayor Rob Ford.

"I've always said id support a casino if it brings in good paying jobs. If it's going to bring in $200 million a year absolutely, I'm voting for it." 

The casino debate is now in its final stage. 

The city manager will present his recommendations next week.  That will be followed by a full council next month.