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Duly Quoted: Paul Godfrey on a Downtown Casino

OLG chair says casinos shouldn't go in residential neighbourhoods—which is why it's fine to have one downtown.

“I live in a residential neighbourhood. It has what I would describe as either single-family homes or townhouses or places where people live. But I wouldn’t describe all of downtown as a neighbourhood. Downtown has stores and offices and places of entertainment and restaurants.”

—Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Chair Paul Godfrey to the Globe and Mail, in an attempt to clarify remarks he made during a speech to the National Club on Tuesday [PDF]. Among his comments: “I gotta tell you, I wouldn’t want [a casino] in my neighbourhood, but at the same time you’re not putting it in a residential area.” Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) quickly condemned those remarks in an open letter to provincial finance minister Dwight Duncan, writing: “These [downtown] communities deserve not only to be recognized by your government and its appointees, but their rights and quality of life deserve the same consideration as Mr. Godfrey’s neighbours and friends.”

Of the locations currently being considered for a Toronto casino, three—Exhibition Place, the convention centre, and the Port Lands—are close to a substantial number of homes or planned residential growth, although not perhaps in a form Godfrey recognizes, since they are primarily condos rather than single family homes.

The first public consultation meeting about a potential casino takes place tonight at City Hall.

CORRECTION: January 21, 2013, 12:07 PM This post originally listed Ontario Place as a possible location for a Toronto casino. It has been changed to Exhibition Place.


  • Anonymous

    I don’t want a casino downtown, or anywhere else for that matter. But come on, Adam Vaughan: people who live downtown should not be expecting it to look like Pickering, and you should absolutely not be encouraging that kind of sentiment.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think he was saying that at all. Godfrey has clearly no idea just how many people live downtown because they aren’t living in bungalows or duplexes.

      • Anonymous

        Vaughan wants downtowners to play the NIMBY card to block the casino. I’m saying the cure is worse than the disease. It doesn’t matter how many people live downtown, because downtown is not a “residential” neighborhood — which is exactly why downtowners live there.

        Again I’m opposed to the casino, and it should not be built anywhere in the city, much less downtown. But we have enough trouble with NIMBYism in this city.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t think NIMBY really applies here. We aren’t talking about a condo building two or three storeys higher than the designated limit, or a wind turbine beaming cancer into people’s ears, we’re talking about a major overhaul of neighbourhood commerce, transit, infrastructure, and activity, occupying an entire city block.

          It doesn’t matter why people choose to live downtown, but that doesn’t mean Godfrey can lump a sprawling casino-hotel-conference-centre-theme-park-cineplex under the category of “offices and stores”.

  • Anonymous

    It’s just not right to shoot children. So we should shoot the OLG instead.

  • Ben

    I think the Convention Centre is a poor location because it’s already over congested, but I see nothing wrong with Ontario Place or the Port Lands. No one lives near Ontario Place, and the Port Lands is an industrial area. What am I missing? You could still put up condos around the casino, it’s not a problem if people are aware of the casino at the time of purchase of their condos.

    • Anonymous

      Aren’t the Portlands meant to be redeveloped as residential neighbourhoods? (Or am I thinking of somewhere else in the area?)

      • CaligulaJones

        Please. With the council, pretty much anything that has been “meant” can be “unmeant”. See: bike lanes, the Gardiner, public housing…

        • Anonymous

          Wasn’t this recently hashed out, with the Brothers Ford trying to cram a Ferris wheel and mono rail in, and Council telling them to take a hike and re-affirmed the plans for the Portlands?

          • CaligulaJones

            I think you are referring to a Simpson’s episode with a high-speed train. Or maybe its just me, I do flip around the tely a bit.

          • WhiteBox

            monorail. MONORAIL. MONORAIL!!

          • vampchick21

            Sadly no, he’s not. However, you’ve now put the thought in my head that Doug Ford got his idea for the Portlands by watching that episode of The Simpsons and I’m surprised he didn’t add an elevator to nowhere and a giant magnifying glass into the mix.

          • vampchick21

            Oh Gods…..they watched the Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns built a casino….didn’t they?

    • kroberts

      Ontario Place and the Portlands are being redeveloped to include more green space for downtown residents – and that’s what they SHOULD be – spaces for EVERYONE to enjoy. We don’t need a concrete eye sore meant to keep people in all day taking up space near the water.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s what Godfrey said to the Star:

    “Perhaps my definition of a residential neighbourhood is different. I wouldn’t put a sports
    stadium like the ACC in the middle of homes in Swansea or strike up a skyscraping hotel on the Danforth. But those things fit well in a vibrant downtown and are accepted by the people that choose to live there. We at OLG believe the same can be said of a major gaming entertainment centre …”

    Another possibility: perhaps a sports stadium and a skscraping hotel fit well in a vibrant downtown and a casino fits well nowhere. It’s the obvious conclusion. No one wants one unless it’s far enough away to be someone else’s problem.

    It’s the residents of suburban neighbourhoods that get to choose what is appropriate there. But somehow Godfrey thinks that downtowners should leave it to ignorant OLG suits to decide what fits in well in a vibrant downtown?

    • iamrobfordsaneurysm

      We obviously have no clue, we’re apparently so stupid that we’ve been living in non-residential neighborhoods all these years, who knew?

  • Anonymous

    Portlands is perfect – it also supplies depressed gamblers with a nearby location to easily drown themselves. Jobs are created in the new harbour body dragging unit. WIN WIN

  • Christopher Paul Dart

    There are loads of places in the inner suburbs that aren’t neighbourhoods, either. Comstock Road (Google Map it) is not exactly single family homes.

  • kroberts

    I live downtown (on Ossignton Ave.), I live among stores and restaurants and entertainment locations such as art galleries and small theaters and bars. These are welcome in my mixed neighborhood because they bring vibrancy and life to an otherwise “residential” looking neighborhood.

    I also live close to a CAMH center full of drug addicts and mentally ill people. I live a short bus ride away from Ontario Place and the EX/Convention Center and so do these already at risk individuals – there should not be a vice like a casino anywhere near there… for the good of EVERYONE in the city, especially those in the south west.

  • Dinah Might

    “I don’t cook a turkey in the microwave; I cook a turkey in the oven. Therefore, I can also cook this elephant in my oven.”

  • WhiteBox

    It’s not NIMBYism if I don’t want a casino in ANY neighbourhood. They are bad for the neighbourhoods around them and they are bad for society as a whole.

  • Wally

    We get it Godfrey, you’re rich and don’t have to live with the plebes, thanks for throwing that in our faces.