“It’s like watching an episode of The Simpsons, quite frankly. Although I think Mayor Quimby actually has more integrity.”
- Councillor Adam Vaughan following Mayor Rob Ford’s announcement cancelling the casino debate
The Fords will know when to fold ‘em when it comes to a Toronto casino.
Councillor Doug Ford made it clear Thursday if city council rejects a downtown casino in the next few weeks, Mayor Rob Ford’s administration will walk away from the issue.
“We’re going to try (to win the vote),” Ford said, looking ahead at what appears to be an uphill battle for the pro-casino forces at council.
But Ford stressed if council rejects pushing ahead on a downtown casino the mayor won’t campaign in 2014 on reopening the issue.
“Once it is done, it is done,” Ford said. “We move on, continue running the city and just move on.
“If the councillors don’t want it, very simple, we aren’t going to do it.”
Regardless of what side you are on in the casino debate, Ford’s comments make the stakes of the looming council vote that much higher.
City Hall is gearing up for the great casino debate in the next few weeks. Three of Toronto’s ex-mayors – David Crombie, Art Eggleton and John Sewell – have teamed up to tell Mayor Rob Ford and city council not to bet on a casino.
Here is the letter they released today (full disclosure – Art Eggleton seems to have provided it exclusively to the Toronto Star yesterday):
January 30, 2013
The Mayor and City Councillors
Toronto City Hall
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
We are former Mayors of Toronto who believe that it is not in our city’s best interest to establish commercial casino operations in Toronto.
In the years we served in office, we saw countless proposals that proponents said would bring the city big revenues, many jobs, and much prestige. And some of them did, but beware the sales pitch. The numbers don’t always add up, and we think that is a real possibility in this case. Revenues can be inflated and costs such as police services and traffic congestion underestimated. In fact, extensive research in the U.S., carried out by Earl Grinols, professor of economics at Baylor University, indicates that for every $1 in benefit, there is a cost of at least $3. These costs are reflected in infrastructure costs, higher regulatory expenses, additional policing and criminal justice costs, and larger social welfare expenditures.
A Canadian study by the RCMP in British Columbia has also linked increased crime to casino gambling, noting that “members of organized crime also use casinos for criminal purposes such as loan-sharking and money laundering”.
And how will local businesses in and around the Casino be affected? According to some studies, not too well. Casinos want to keep you in the building, not roaming to outside restaurants and other establishments in the community. They have their own restaurants and shopping facilities to keep you inside. In Atlantic City many restaurants have closed near the casinos, leaving a few pawnshops and cash for gold stores.
It has been suggested that a casino shouldn’t be in a residential neighbourhood. But look at downtown Toronto and almost anywhere else in the city. Condo development is putting residential communities everywhere.
The social costs of gambling must also be taken seriously. It preys on the poor and those vulnerable to addiction. Problem gambling is already an issue. A commercial casino in Toronto will make it that much worse. Studies indicate that where casinos go, so go increases in poverty, homelessness, gambling problems, suicides, drug/alcohol addictions, and crimes by those feeding their habit. Not only are the gamblers affected but so are their families, their kids.
Toronto is not about to become another Las Vegas, a tourist gambling destination. And we wouldn’t want it to. Much of the casino revenues are likely to be generated locally by taking away from other games of chance and lotteries. There are already enough gambling opportunities. We say enough is
enough. Governments shouldn’t be expanding gambling opportunities as a means of balancing their budgets. A commercial casino operation is not in Toronto’s best interest.
David Crombie, John Sewell, Art Eggleton
“It’s about city building, it is about extending the city down to the water’s edge. It’s not about casinos and Ferris wheels and you know, you feel like you’re living through an episode of The Simpsons half the time. Can we have some real city building here instead of Googling “fun cities” and taking a look at Ferris wheels and silly stuff that sort of makes a headline but doesn’t make a city.”
Councillor Adam Vaughan reacting Monday to news the city is looking at revitalizing Exhibition Place and the key to it could be a casino
Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina Councillor Adam Vaughan (Photo by Mark Tarnovetsky/Toronto Sun)
Councillor Adam Vaughan has made no secret of his opposition to a casino in Toronto.
As the topic of a Hogtown casino flared up again today with Mayor Rob Ford voicing his support for the idea, Vaughan came out swinging, stressing Toronto doesn’t want a casino.
Here’s Vaughan in his own words:
“We don’t want it, we don’t want it downtown, we don’t want it in the city and we don’t want it on the waterfront.
“I’m not interested in turning my city into a casino at the expense of every small business, every restaurant, every bar, every entertainment facility. I’m not willing to gut the local economy to make some multi-national rich and the province a little better off while the city is left to deal with the bankrupt businesses, the street crime and the broken souls.
“It is just not the way to build a modern city and any part of the world you go to where there is a casino, you have a dead neighbourhood. I’m not killing any neighbourhood in Toronto.
“And I will stand up to the province, the mayor or anyone else who thinks casinos are a good idea.”
Anyone smell a 2014 election issue?
Councillor John Parker won’t double down on a Toronto casino.
The conservative councillor and sometimes ally of Mayor Rob Ford sent out an op-ed to his constituents today about a Hogtown casino and why he won’t support it. According to the note Parker attached to the e-news blast, the op-ed was requested by a local paper but didn’t run.
I’m not sure who turned it down but here is the always eloquent deputy speaker in his entirety:
A casino for Toronto? No thanks.
by John Parker, City Councillor, Ward 26 – Don Valley West
Why begrudge Toronto residents a local venue at which to pursue the thrill and joy of pouring their money into flashy machines with bright lights and tumbling images of fruit?
The answer lies in the motivation of those who propose a Toronto casino. It is not to provide residents with a recreational outlet; it is to take their money away from them.
Which itself wouldn’t be a bad thing at all if every casino patron were guaranteed to be a disciplined player with money to burn – if each one was a character out of a James Bond movie with wealth to spare. But we know that gambling has an evil dark side. We also know that its victims are those least equipped to stand up to it or cope with its consequences.
The problems with gambling are so notorious that they have acquired clinical names: Tolerance (the need to risk more and more to obtain the same “high”), Withdrawal (as with an addiction), Chasing (risking even more in order to recover previous losses), Bailout (turning to friends and family to cover losses), etc.
I claim no expertise, but I have seen enough of the inside of a casino to know who lives there: For every patron enjoying a harmless evening out there are others who are not there to have fun. They are there to change their lives by hitting the lucky jackpot.
We also know that for every lucky winner there are thousands of losers. Many lose far more than they can afford to part with.
We also know that it is more than the players themselves who are victimized. It is their families as well. Ultimately it is their communities and the city in which they live.
It troubles me in particular that, whenever a casino is proposed for Toronto, it is promoted on the basis that it will give our economy a boost. Think of the tourist dollars! Think of the hotel and restaurant trade! Think of the business for our shops!
In a city as large and enterprising as Toronto, God help us all if our economy has slid so low that we have to turn to a casino to help pull us out of our slump. Let’s hope we have not run out of better and more productive ways to pay our bills.
Let casinos flourish in vacationlands at least a day trip away. Keep them out of the town I am trying to help look after.