Toronto casino referendum on the table, Duncan says
'Imagine an anchor that could create a golden mile,' finance minister says
Ontario's finance minister wagers that a casino along Toronto's waterfront would be a cash bonanza, and he's willing to lay the odds in a referendum.
Dwight Duncan, enticed by revenue-generating potential, envisions a massive entertainment complex anchored by a casino along the lake.
"Forty-odd flights will leave Toronto this week to go to Vegas or Atlantic City," he said.
But those gambling dollars could instead be poured into the local economy.
"These are not the days of Bugsy Siegel. These places have some of the finest shopping, restaurants, convention facilities, park spaces, open spaces," Duncan said.
"Imagine an anchor that could create a golden mile on Toronto's waterfront."
The minister said he's not alone in seeing the potential for a large complex anchored by a casino at the waterfront, adding he has heard "expressions of interest from a number of other municipalities in the GTA."
Concern about 'dead neighbourhoods'
As far as a casino goes, Mayor Rob Ford is all in.
"I'm up for anything," Ford said. "If they want to put it at Ontario Place or anywhere else, I'm open to the idea."
But the issue is a divisive one in council.
Two motions opposing plans for a casino will be tabled next week, and Coun. Adam Vaughan said he's noticed a disturbing urban trend linked to casino developments.
"Any part of the world you go to where there's a casino, you have a dead neighbourhood," Vaughan argued. "I'm not killing any neighbourhood in Toronto, and I will stand up to the province or the mayor or anyone who thinks casinos are a good idea."
In a 1997 referendum, Torontonians rejected a proposal to build a permanent casino in the city.