Woolwich will press on with casino plans, mayor says
Cowan calls outrcy from across the region against gambling 'a vocal minority'
Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan says his township will press on with its plans to pursue a casino despite outcry from opponents throughout the region, who he dismisses as "a vocal minority."
"Definitely in cases when you have something like this, you hear the vocal minority," Cowan told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Thursday. "I don't think at this point, we'll be reconsidering our decision," he said.
Woolwich town councillors voted 4-1 in favour of welcoming a proposal from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to build a casino with 1,200 slot machines and more than 50 card tables in March. Since then, public consultations in Kitchener and Waterloo have prompted many citizens to come out against the idea of casino development.
Meanwhile, Regional Chair Ken Seiling plans to push forward a non-binding resolution at an upcoming May 8 meeting of regional council. If passed, the region would formally voice its opposition to a proposed casino in any of its six municipalities.
Under provincial rules, OLG only needs approval from a municipality, not a second tier regional government in order to proceed with a potential casino development. That makes Sieling's motion largely symbolic.
Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan says the casino and resolution by Seiling are two separate issues.
"We're in a two-tiered system. We have an upper-tier and a lower-tier and I think we have to respect that. So it does seem a little heavy-handed," he said.
Citing the example of the Grand River Raceway in Elora, Cowan said he remains convinced that history will one day show Woolwich town councillors have made the right decision in welcoming a casino to their community.
"It's not like we don't have one, we've had one operating for over ten years and we haven't seen the effects that a lot of people feel we're going to feel and see," he said.