Councillors vote down downtown Toronto casino
Toronto councillors have killed the building of a downtown casino, a controversial issue that Mayor Rob Ford had recently suggested was unlikely to go forward as a result of provincial government waffling.
Councillors debated the casino issue on Tuesday at a special meeting that Ford had attempted to quash, as he didn’t believe the province was behind the project any longer.
But a majority of councillors signed a petition that allowed the debate to take place as scheduled.
During the debate, Ford repeated that Premier Kathleen Wynne does not want to see a casino in Toronto and again said there is uncertainty on what the future holds for gambling in Ontario.
"No one knows what direction Premier Wynne is going on in the gaming file," he said.
On Tuesday, the mayor had moved a motion to have council reject building a casino downtown, but support expansion of existing gaming facilities at Woodbine. But his motion was voted down.
Coun. Mike Layton had two motions carry, calling on council to reject both new gaming sites in Toronto generally, and also expansion at Woodbine.
"I'm pleased with the result," Layton said after the vote.
"We have been through a year of debate and deliberation with members of the public and it came across loud and clear that residents don’t favour a casino in the City of Toronto and that's reflected in the votes from council."
Councillors who had opposed the downtown casino appeared pleased after voting had wrapped on Tuesday afternoon. There were even a few audible yelps from people sitting in the gallery of council chambers.
Coun. Paula Fletcher said the result was what "thousands and thousands of Torontonians" had asked their councillors to do.
"We had petitions from 22,000 people in the city of Toronto. That’s pretty unprecedented," she said.
"So they said we don’t want gaming expanded in the city, we don’t want our economy on the backs of problem gamblers."
The city had learned in recent days that the province would not reward Toronto with anywhere near the $100 million that it had been seeking. Several councillors said Tuesday that was a factor in their decision-making process on the casino issue.
The mayor wasn't the only one pointing a finger at the province on Tuesday.
Following the vote, Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti said that the premier had wanted to defeat the casino and the province had refused to offer the city its fair share in a potential development.
"I've got a lot to say about how the province is treating this city. It's time that we demand for the respect that we deserve as a city," he said.