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A Tale Of Two Councils

Published: August 22, 2012 3:51 pm ET

Last Comment: August 23, 2012 9:57 am ET | 4 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

With the Ontario Liberal Government having promised this week to 'upload' some municipal costs to the provincial books, many people are saying that city officials will now be under political pressure to accept the Ontario Liberals' terms for the controversial gaming modernization plan. That being said, recent decisions by City Councils to support or not support local horse racing facilities in their jurisdictions couldn't have drawn a more varied portrait of the future.

A report by the Hamilton Spectator has explained that Hamilton City Council is united in putting the future of gaming at Flamboro Downs before that of an expanded gambling facility closer to its urban centres.

The article contains a list of nine local Councillors that are pro-Flamboro first and foremost. Councillors Brian McHattie, Jason Farr, Bernie Morelli, Sam Merulla, Tom Jackson, Scott Duvall, Terry Whitehead, Lloyd Ferguson and Judi Partridge all make it perfectly clear via their comments in the Hamilton Spectator story that they stand by their local horse-racing industry and the facility which has done nothing but produce revenue for Hamilton.

A common theme has come from the aforementioned Councillors; that being: 'Sorry, Flamboro comes first.' Various quotes from the Councillors in question appear below.

  • “I am against a downtown casino, or any casino other than the current Flamboro slots facility.”
  • “I, along with every other councillor, voted in favour of the motion that said despite any future discussions, Flamboro is our first priority."
  • “I support retaining Flamboro slots and horse racing. I presently see no merit to a downtown casino. I will support a referendum and any additional public dialogue to alter my current position.”
  • “I believe it is imperative that council stand by the resolution unanimously supported to protect Flamboro Downs and the local farmers and groomers in the horse race industry. We must also eliminate the notwithstanding clause of the resolution and establish a referendum and moratorium on the process of any casino being located outside of Flamborough.”
  • “I stand by council's decision to support Flamboro Downs and looking forward to the ‘reps’ from OLG and Great Canadian Gaming Co. appearing before GIC in September.”
  • “I’m still committed to Flamboro, but I would look at other options only if (it closed). Then I would consider other options, but only after a referendum.”
  • “Council has clearly, unanimously voted on Flamboro Downs as the priority location to support for a casino/slots/race track."

In contrast to the support and hope for the future of Flamboro Downs in Hamilton, the exact opposite is happening in Sudbury, home of Sudbury Downs.

According to an open letter by Sudbury Downs President Patrick MacIsaac printed in The Sudbury Star, City of Greater Sudbury Council on August 14 adopted its economic development department's recommendation to welcome a casino to the area with no preference of location, thus essentially leaving Sudbury Downs, a loyal contributor to the fabric of the area for years, to fend for itself against long odds.

MacIsaac wrote, "Council's decision effectively means the end of horse racing in Sudbury. Why will this happen?"

"City council must make decisions to guide the economic development of our community. The question is whether their decision in this matter was made with full knowledge and appreciation of the facts and consequences," MacIsaac continued. "It is disconcerting that the city's economic development report did not indicate to council the negative consequences of their recommendations. The report failed to mention, and council failed to recognize, that the adoption of the report would destroy the horse racing industry in Sudbury."

MacIsaac went on to say, "The City of Greater Sudbury had an opportunity to support the local horse racing industry, local jobs, and local economic development by simply taking the position that the city's preferred location for a new casino is an expanded facility at Sudbury Downs," which it did not do.

When weighing the decimation of the local horse-racing industry to unknown pluses from a new casino project elsewhere in the are, MacIsaac rhetorically asked, "Can this really be called 'economic development?'"

(With files from the Hamilton Spectator and The Sudbury Star)

August 23, 2012 - 9:57 amI personally hope that every

I personally hope that every municipality in Ontario votes against a casino.I am working very hard in my city by talking to every member of council and attending every public meeting explaining how Slots at Racetracks being replaced by Casinos will kill the horse racing industry.Actually,a few are listening.

August 23, 2012 - 12:19 amHamilton City Council gets

Hamilton City Council gets the high five for supporting Flamboro. Every little bit helps.

August 22, 2012 - 9:41 pmOnly mentions slots not

Tom Kelly SAID...

Only mentions slots not continue of racing plus slots ...too many political moves to end ten racetracks?

August 22, 2012 - 8:33 pmI have been critical of

Randy Young SAID...

I have been critical of Sudbury Downs Management in the past ... mainly due to sporadic access to Telewagering as a result of contract disputes ... and their unwillingness to provide account wagering to Northern Ontario - which I understand is now available.

Mr Macisaac, however, is right on with his comments to the Sudbury Star. It's very unfortunate that the Sudbury City Council is not supporting him.

Sudbury Downs is the only Horse Racing Track in Northern Ontario and is, unfortunately, a good distance from other major centers (Sault Ste Marie - 200 miles, Thunder Bay - over 600 miles). You would think being the only track in such a large area that they would be a logical candidate for expanded gaming ... but as we've seen, LOGIC is not a word that applies to the OLG or the Liberals.

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