Sudbury anti-casino lobbyists try to spark up dimming debate

Talk of a new casino coming to Sudbury hasn't become the divisive election issue many thought it would be.
North Bay city council has voted to have staff work towards re-zoning an old industrial property in the downtown to allow for a casino. (CBC)

Talk of a new casino coming to Sudbury hasn't become the divisive election issue many thought it would be.

However a group opposing to the expansion of casino gambling, especially into the city's downtown, is polling candidates on their views.

John Lindsay, who is with the No Casino Sudbury Committee, said the delays with the province's plans have seen the hot topic drop off the radar.

"So we're just trying to do our best to say 'OK, it's lying dormant for the time being, but something is going to happen down the road and are we prepared."

Lindsay said his group is hopeful a new city council will reconsider its resolution welcoming casino gambling to Greater Sudbury.

Similar motions were passed in Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay, which the province has also pegged for new casinos.

A long shot?

Meanwhile, a Sudbury businessman who made a pitch for the casino said he feels it's becoming a long shot.

Richard Diotte from the Citadel Group proposed putting the casino on property off of Elm Street in the downtown.

He says the province's casino plans are so stalled, that few council candidates are even talking about it.

"Because they don't even know if it'll hit their next four years."

Diotte has heard that anti-casino lobbyists are approaching candidates, but doesn't think much will come of it.

However, John Lindsay from the No Casino Sudbury Committee believes a new council could still reject a casino.

"We really think it deserves a second look and we know we're going to have a council composed of at least half new faces."

The province has repeatedly said that plans to build new casinos across Ontario — including three in northeastern Ontario — are not dead, just delayed.

But for one developer in Sudbury, the casino is off the books.

At a Sudbury city planning meeting to be held tonight, there’s a rezoning application for land out on the Kingsway. A year ago the developer applied to have the property re-zoned for a casino and amusement park — but has since dropped the casino from the project, which is now centered around a hotel and business park.

The developer couldn't be reached for comment.


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