Representatives from the Woodbine Entertainment Group have not been resting on their laurels since addressing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's Executive Committee on Monday.
In a continued effort to publicize the importance of Woodbine Racetrack as a positive and important gaming entity in the Greater Toronto Area, Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley addressed the Etobicoke York Community Council.
The scheduled council meeting featured a pro-WEG motion put forth by Etobicoke North Councillor Vincent Crisanti. As an article by insidetoronto.com explains, the motion asked councillors to show their support for a full casino at Woodbine Racetrack in principle.
Crisanti’s motion states, in part, that, “It is imperative that Woodbine Racetrack remain a viable and robust operation... notwithstanding the discussion of a casino in downtown Toronto, EYCC should stand with Ontario’s horse-racing industry, local residents and community partners and support the continued viability of Woodbine Racetrack.”
On Monday, WEG officials addressed Mayor Ford's Executive Committee in an effort to get the city to allow casino expansion in Woodbine Racetrack's gaming zone (C2). "We need the support of the City of Toronto," WEG's vice president of Corporate Affairs, Jane Holmes, told the committee.
“Woodbine racing has meant a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to the people who work on the backstretch... from the hotwalkers, to the grooms, exercisers, veterinarians, and blacksmiths,” Hawley told the EYCC. “Woodbine means a lot to a lot of people’s lives and a lot of people’s livelihoods. If Woodbine didn’t exist, where would they all go? This is all they know.”
One of the issues opponents of expanded casino gaming have cited is a large spike in crime in host areas, although, according to Supt. Ron Taverner of 23 Division, this has not occurred in terms of Woodbine Racetrack.
“There are approximately 16,000 visitors a day to Woodbine, with virtually no interruption to the community,” Taverner said. “With that number of people and that large an operation, there’s virtually very little crime and crime impact in that community, which speaks to the operation that is currently looking after the Woodbine Entertainment area and the security measures they’ve put in place to date.”
“This is about supporting a business at risk... it’s about supporting the great charitable work Woodbine does, it’s about preserving jobs," said Crisanti, adding, "it’s also about the sustainable revenues to the City of Toronto to the tune of $20 million every year.”
(With files from insidetoronto.com)