Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vaughan wants casinos banned from Toronto

TORONTO - Councillor Adam Vaughan wants what happens in Vegas to stay out of Toronto.

But hours after Vaughan hit the jackpot Tuesday by getting his colleagues on the Toronto and East York community council to urge staff to find a way to ban a casino from the city’s downtown, Scarborough community council voted to support in principle “the development of casino(s) in Toronto.”

Before the unanimous vote at Toronto and East York community council, Vaughan pointed to comments Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday made during Monday’s executive committee meeting.

Holyday said although he isn’t supportive of a casino “it’s in the wind here in Toronto” and it could yield money to fund public transit.

“That stimulated an immediate response about the fear that casinos would be popping up here, there and everywhere,” Vaughan told reporters.

The councillor for Trinity-Spadina (Ward 20) said casinos are an “absurd way to pay for things.

“And it hurts people; we know it hurts people,” Vaughan said, adding a casino could also hurt local businesses and local land values. “If we’re going to sell out Toronto, what are we here for?”

Councillor Paul Ainslie blasted Toronto and East York councillors for trying to ban a casino in their area and called Vaughan’s motion “bizarre.”

“You’re too good for a casino but I’m sure you’ll take the revenue for your roads and your transit and your parks,” said the chairman of the Scarborough community council. “You can’t suck and blow at the same time.”

Scarborough councillors voted 8-1 to support Toronto casinos in principle. Councillor Chin Lee was the lone opposing vote.

Gary Wright, the city’s chief planner, said Toronto’s zoning bylaws do not permit casinos.

“They are not a permitted use in any of the existing zoning bylaws,” he said. “Could that be strengthened? Possibly.”

But the province can trump the city when it comes to allowing a casino.

As it did in the case of Woodbine Live, the province can issue a ministerial zoning order allowing a casino on a property in Toronto.

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