From City Hall: Casino Debate (UPDATED)

UPDATED (May 2013): The many hundreds of e-mails I received, along with the numerous individual conversations and discussions at community meetings were very helpful in determining that my stance against casinos reflected the views of the majority of my constituents.

By the time all of the information was available to members of Council, the vote was 40-4 against casino expansion in the City – and I believe even some of the 4 only favoured casino expansion at Woodbine and not in the downtown.

The one good thing that might have come from a downtown casino was a new convention centre facility.  I, along with the majority of members of Council, voted in favour of seeking assistance from other levels of government to help fund this initiative that would be a great boost to our local economy.

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UPDATED (Jan. 2013): The City of Toronto has launched a website for members of the public to obtain information, download materials and provide their own input.

You may wish to fill out the City’s online survey.

To add your voice to the conversation “in person,” you can attend the local consultation session in North York Memorial Hall, 5110 Yonge St –Saturday, January 12th from 1 to 4 PM.  At the session you will have a chance to discuss the issue, speak with City staff and provide input.

The City’s consultations will end on Janaury 25th.  The findings will assist City Manager Joe Pennachetti in preparing a report to Executive Committee on March 20th.

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Original Post (Dec. 2012): Later this year, Council will be deciding whether it wants a casino in Toronto, and if so, where. In the meantime, we will be listening to comments from members of the public.

I believe that a casino in a Toronto neighbourhood would come at a large social cost.  at the moment, there is little evidence to suggest that any possible economic benefit would be worth the negative impact on the cultural, social and economical wellbeing of the city and its residents.

Proponents of casinos argue that it would bring revenue to the city, but the amount of revenue is unclear at the time of this writing and there has been little analysis of the negative impact on nearby businesses, restaurants and cultural activities.

My view is that casinos, like black holes, pull in all the light and energy around them and give back nothing.  Look at the faces of people coming out of casinos and compare those with, for example, those coming out of a movie at the Toronto International Film Festival, or a concert at Massey Hall.

As always, I invite you to share your views by e-mailing my office.