More Controversy Surrounding Toronto Casino

Can Toronto’s city council approve a project while at the same time putting conditions on it? That’s the question that’s being asked by one real estate firm after the executive committee reviewed plans for the casino last week, and then approved those plans, but first saying that there were more than 40 conditions that had to be met first.

It was First Capital Realty, the real estate agency in Toronto that’s also a mall owner with major stakes in Liberty Village – one of the neighbourhoods critics have been saying will be destroyed should a casino ever be allowed into the city. First Capital is saying that the conditions placed on the approval aren’t consistent with the provincial lottery and gaming act. Others are saying it’s a grey area. It will be up to Queen’s Park to decide.

In a letter sent to Mayor Rob Ford and the executive committee on Monday, First Capital stated,

“A vote yes on a conditional resolution for a casino does not comply with provincial legislation and First Capital Realty is prepared to take all necessary steps to challenge that outcome.”

But the OLG has already agreed to comply with all conditions put forth in the conditional approval. And after OLG staff told city councillors that “they could work” with the current 43 conditions, councillors took the opportunity to heap even more conditions on them – a stalling tactic perhaps, to ensure that the city never sees the casino it so desperately doesn’t want.

While Mr. Ford has admitted that he hasn’t read the letter sent by First Capital, he also says that he’s only looking for his fair shot.

“That’s up to the province,” he said when asked about the controversy in question. “We have a proposal. All I’m asking council to do is move that proposal in front of the province and let them say yes or no.”

But one city spokesperson doesn’t think it’s such a grey area after all. Jackie DeSouza says that this project is just like any other. Council will give their recommendations and conditions, and OLG will have to meet them. If not, no casino.

“The OLG has agreed to implement commercially viable conditions in its procurement process,” she says. “The OLG would enter into a hosting agreement with the City, obliging the OLG to meet City conditions. If conditions are not met, Council can decide not to proceed.”

And that they just might. What do you think about having a casino in Toronto’s downtown core? And what do you think about the project being approved with more than 43 conditions attached to it?