Toronto gives green light to Woodbine casino plan

The Toronto Star reported on April 26, 2018 that Toronto City Council approved a plan to put a casino at Woodbine. I moved an amendment to require a child care facility be part of the deal along with stronger enforcement of community benefits. You can view the full article below or at the link here: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/04/26/toronto-gives-green-light-to-woodbine-casino-plan.html

Toronto gives green light to Woodbine casino plan

Deal includes $5 million for a daycare with flexible hours to serve locally hired workers.

City council has given the go-ahead for a casino in north Etobicoke, under conditions including a $5-million investment in daycare for local workers who will be hired under a community-benefits agreement.

Councillors approved the beefed-up benefits agreement Thursday in the second day of debate on the matter, and also approved the zoning of the Woodbine Racetrack expansion as recommended by the Etobicoke and York Community Council.

The vote put a cap on council’s 2015 decision to allow the Ontario Gaming Greater Toronto Area Limited Partnership to expand gaming at the racetrack, so long as it offered community and social benefits.

Those benefits were to include significant local hiring, both in construction trades (10 per cent) and at the casino itself (40 per cent), as well as services and benefits to mitigate the impact a casino might have on the community.

This week, council added to those. The development must now provide a $5-million daycare, that will operate on extended hours to match those of casino workers. Council also strengthened language requiring best efforts to hire a minimum 10 per cent from local and equity-seeking populations. Labour representatives will sit on an advisory working group. And council tightened up accountability measures to make sure that all the community benefit requirements are honoured.

Rosemarie Powell called the final package “a win for the community, 100 per cent.”

“If we had let the conditions go as they had been imagined in 2015 we would not be here today,” said Powell, a Rexdale resident and executive director of the Toronto Community Benefits Network.

“We are so proud to see councillors standing up for the community of Rexdale. To see that labour has a seat at the table… and childcare? That’s come up over and over again, it comes up as really important.”

Deputy Mayor Ana Bailao moved to put a price tag on childcare, and to more strictly enforce other community benefits. She said it was vital to make sure the casino raised the community up.

“There is a mega-operation being built in this part of town so we have to think how do we ensure that we bring benefits to this part of the city,” Bailao said.

“This is a very strong foundation, and we’re going to be able to build on this foundation for the future. There will be other community benefit agreements.”

Councillors spent Wednesday evening and Thursday morning looking over the deal – and, in some cases, expressing buyer’s remorse.

“If we were acting with real integrity we wouldn’t be supporting gambling here,” said Councillor John Filion.

“We know that gambling sucks the life out of communities. For some people it can be soul-destroying. If we’re doing this, then we’ve got to extract every community benefit we can get.”

Councillor Michael Ford maintained that the casino expansion would be a lifesaver for Rexdale.

“When I look at this project as a local councillor, I don’t look at it as a casino, I look at the full master plan of what we want to do with the city’s northwest,” Ford said.

“It leverages investment – economic investment — for years to come. This is very important to the wellbeing of the people of Rexdale.”

Do you like this post?

Pulse

  • Ryan McGovern
  • Pawel Kuzemczak
  • Darrin Cohen
  • Deniz Lim-Sersan
  • Harvey Consky
  • Marcio Ferreira
  • Carol Lai
  • Alexandra MacLennan
  • Ingrid Mayrhofer
  • Bc Batty

Ryan McGovern just joined.

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.