By Michael D. Lipton, Q.C., Kevin J. Weber, and Jack Tadman
As we first reported in January, the movement towards a Toronto casino continues to move forward. As we anticipated, when Ontario's Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan, first publicly aired the concept, resistance in Toronto has begun to coalesce. Since the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) released its Strategic Business Review in March, politicians have begun to stake out their positions.
The most public arena of debate has been on Toronto City Council, where suburban councillors and Mayor Rob Ford have lined up in favor of the casino, but downtown Toronto councillors have been vocal in their opposition.
The Strategic Business Review and the OLG chairman indicated a commitment to building a casino in the Greater Toronto Area, which does not necessarily mean that it must be built within Toronto city limits. The first choice of the OLG and the provincial government appears to be to locate a casino on Toronto's Lake Ontario waterfront, with the site currently occupied by the closed amusement park area at Ontario Place being seen as the prime location.
On April 10, 2012, Council considered two motions put forward by councillors opposed to the casino concept. A motion introduced by Councillor Mike Layton, who represents the ward that includes the prime Ontario Place location, would have required Council to send the provincial government a message advising that Council desires that Ontario Place remain as "a public space for families and all Toronto residents to enjoy." The other motion put forward by Councillor Adam Vaughan stated that no casino be built in Toronto city limits unless a referendum indicates approval of the plan. Both motions failed to achieve the two-thirds vote of Council required for them to be brought forward for immediate open debate before Council.