Has public health’s opposition to new casinos given Mayor Jim Watson pause for thought?
It’s uncharacteristic for Watson to admit he hasn’t brushed up on a major city issue after being asked for insight. A Sun reporter tried to get his thoughts Sunday and I tried again yesterday afternoon, minutes before the public health board vetted, and ultimately accepted, the report. I touched base with his office last night to see if the mayor would comment, since the board endorsed public health’s opposition. But, nothing again. It doesn’t sound like the mayor intends to speak on the matter until the finance and economic development committee meeting Monday.
(Note: Five councillors on the health board — Holmes, Fleury, Chernushenko, Hobbs and Egli — voted in favour of opposing more access to gaming in Ottawa. Coun. Shad Qadri voted against.)
Watson obviously knows the crux of the health report. So, I surmise the mayor is thinking about his next move.
Which is, really, what this whole month delay has been for council. But the delay, in my opinion, is mostly related to how politicians plan to keep Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk happy while endorsing expanded gaming at the Rideau Carleton Raceway.
And now council has something else to deal with: Public health’s recommendation to be handed $350,000 of the city’s annual gaming commission from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., new casino or not.
It’s all rather uncomfortable.