It has been estimated that roughly 400 people showed up at Hamilton City Hall on Thursday, January 18 for the second of two public consultation sessions in the city regarding the contentious Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. idea of introducing a full-blown casino complex to Hamilton's downtown area.
A report by the CBC explains that the passionate crowd was made up of individuals both for and against a downtown casino. The City Council event, which was preceded by an anti-downtown casino rally, was at capacity.
Although the issue has proven to be a polarizing topic, onlookers that showed up to support their side on the issue were vocal, yet respectful, according to the report.
The article states that one of the panel members that was in attendance, McMaster University Economics Professor Hannah Holmes, stated that the implementation of a downtown casino would not make up for lost revenue in Hamilton, adding that, if anything, the casino complex would take money away from existing neighbouring businesses. She stated that a downtown casino would not bring 'new money' into Hamilton.
“Economies thrive when you can create new money," Professor Holmes was quoted as saying. "If you're just substituting money from one area to another area, that's not new money.”
As a video report by CHCH explains, some feel that the introduction of a casino complex would not hurt downtown, while others use their logic to say otherwise.
"I think it's positive," said Brian Miller, owner of Miller Shoes. "The casino itself isn't going to totally revitalize downtown, but it certainly can't hurt. Anything that takes non-traffic building space, in my opinion, is positive. So, I'm excited that it would attract more people to the core."
"People go to the casino, they eat in the casino, they stay in the casino and then they leave the casino, so I really can't see that it's going to be very important to the growth of the downtown area," said Beverly Zaruck, owner of I Fiori Flowers in downtown Hamilton. "It'll be great for the (casino) investors, it'll be great for the people that come down and visit it (the casino), but as far as urban renewal is concerned, and as far as the quality of life is concerned, I don't think it's going to add to it."
(With files from CBC and CHCH)