Councillor Josh Matlow

Toronto Sun: City council poised for casino fight

April 10, 2012


Should Toronto roll the dice on a casino?


Councillor Michael Thompson said Tuesday he wants to put the casino question to residents in a referendum as early as this October.


“(The province) wants to deal with it now, so to wait two years from now, to continue to talk about it, who’s right, who’s wrong, I don’t really see what purpose it actually serves,” said the chairman of the city’s economic development committee.


Thompson suggested that if the Ontario government wants to put a casino in Toronto, they should pay for the referendum.


Councillor Adam Vaughan has a motion going to council Wednesday asking councillors to reiterate that there should be no casino in Toronto unless residents support one in a referendum. Vaughan — who is vehemently against a casino — wants Toronto’s 1997 referendum result rejecting a casino to stand.


“There has been a referendum, the people of Toronto have spoken and I think council is bound by that referendum,” he said.


Vaughan blasted any move to spend tax dollars on another casino referendum.


“We can barely find $2 million to keep kids playing sports in this city,” he said. Although he’s come out against a Toronto casino, Councillor Josh Matlow said a referendum would be “reasonable” and a “fair question” to ask residents in the next election.


But Matlow said a referendum should also ask about road tolls and other revenue tools they’d support to help fund transit — and even what transit routes should be funded.


“We could put casino, road tolls, congestion charges, (raised property taxes), a number of different options (to fund transit) and allow Torontonians to be informed about what each one of them means, the pros and the cons, and have a conversation about it,” Matlow said.


Councillor Mike Layton is gambling on council voting Wednesday to ask the province not to put a casino at Ontario Place.


“Cities gambling on casinos, it’s sort of like a gambler walking into a casino and expecting to win the jackpot, it just doesn’t happen that way,” Layton said.


Win or lose, Layton said he hopes the motion will lead to evidence coming forward on the impact that a casino would have on Toronto.


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