By petition a majority of councillors overturn the mayor and reinstate city council's casino meeting.
It was only yesterday that Mayor Rob Ford proclaimed proposals for a Toronto casino “dead.” In the wake of the province’s foot-dragging on the issue, and reluctance to commit to giving the city the $100 million Ford thought was a “fair share” of the gambling revenue any new facility would bring in, the mayor abruptly cancelled the special city council meeting that had been scheduled to debate the issue on Tuesday, May 21.
Twenty-four hours later, a majority of councillors have signed a petition that will overturn the mayor and reinstate the meeting, ensuring that council holds its debate after all. The goal: clearly vote the casino proposal down, rather than follow the mayor’s preferred course and hold off on making any decision at all. Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) called reporters together to announce the news late this afternoon. We haven’t seen the list of signatories, but he said the councillors on the list represent a range of political views on council, united by the desire to have a clear decision on the issue.
City council will meet as originally scheduled on Tuesday, starting at 9:30 a.m. The full text of Layton’s letter announcing the petition follows.
Keep reading: Toronto’s Casino Debate is Back On
Mayor cancels special meeting on a potential casino, saying the province is "wasting our time."
Breaking with just about every precedent of his mayoralty thus far, Rob Ford has decided to call it quits on an issue he’s championed rather than fight it out (and lose) on the floor of the council chamber: today he proclaimed proposals to build a casino in downtown Toronto “dead” and cancelled the special meeting of city council that had been scheduled for Tuesday, May 21 to debate the issue.
Seeking to overturn his cancellation, just minutes later several councillors said they were going to try and hold the meeting anyway. Those councillors, all opposed to a casino, aren’t satisfied with a cancelled meeting: they want to make sure the matter is well and thoroughly settled, and decidedly vote against the proposal. Officially, it won’t be dead until and unless they do.
Keep reading: Rob Ford Proclaims Toronto Casino “Dead”
There will be free pinball in the First Canadian Place lobby until 6 p.m. today.
WHERE: First Canadian Place
WHEN: Earlier today
WHAT: The main lobby of Canada’s tallest skyscraper looks like an arcade in a 1980s shopping mall today, thanks to 100 pinball machines carted in by the Stratford Festival as a promotion for its new production of Tommy—which, of course, is a rock opera, written by members of The Who, about a “deaf, dumb, and blind kid,” who “sure plays a mean pinball.” The machines will remain until 6 p.m. today, so there’s still time to go claim your turn at the flippers. No quarters are required; the games are free.
Council might need to decide on a casino without knowing how much money it would be bring in.
“The hosting fee, whatever number it is, is probably not the question that council has before them…It doesn’t seem to me, that whatever the number is, is going to matter much to their decision.”
—The provincial finance minister warning that Toronto city council may not learn how much the City would receive each year in hosting fees, if it decided to permit a new casino. Council is scheduled to debate and vote on whether to green-light a new gaming facility on Tuesday, May 21, and many councillors have said that their support for a new casino would be contingent on a substantial amount of new money flowing into municipal coffers—$100 million is the minimum most of them cite. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation sent a set of several potential revenue-splitting formulas to the ministry recently; Sousa said those options are still under review. Given his downplaying of the hosting fee, however, his remarks are likely to make many councillors even more concerned that they wouldn’t know what they’d be getting into if they decided to approve a casino in principle.
How one of the world's most conservative cities learned to love its mega-casinos. The trick: put government in charge, not developers.
Public Works looks at public space, urban design, and city-building innovations from around the world, and considers what Toronto might learn from them.
On May 21, city council will decide whether to move forward with the possible construction of a casino/resort/convention centre/shopping complex in Toronto. The meeting is the culmination of months of heated debate and Simpsons memes: on the one side, citizen’s groups, councillors, and most of the local media wringing their hands and thinking of the children; on the other, the Brothers Ford, would-be casino operators, and lobbyists pitching glitz and jobs with a whiff of monorail.
It’s widely expected that the vote will put a stake through the heart of the casino idea, even though no concrete plan has yet been proposed (the MGM back-of-a-cocktail-napkin concept notwithstanding). Questions about land use, traffic, crime, social issues, and general tackiness are understood to have swayed enough councillors to ensure the idea won’t be pursued any further.
On the small chance that council does decide to permit a casino, however, there’s a whole other conversation we must have about how it could, and should, actually operate. Allowing a casino in principle needn’t mean allowing any kind of casino operation in practice. At least one other major city, faced with concerns similar to Toronto’s, allowed casinos, but only subject to a range of measures that constrain their day-to-day management and ensure that they work the way the government wants.
Keep reading: Public Works: A Casino That Works?