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canfield oct 4

Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield weighs the options

In a 5-2 vote, Kenora city council voted in favour of an application for a casino. After the vote, Mayor Dave Canfield explained his decision.

"I can't vote against it," he said, noting the support from residents.

During public meetings, there was strong support from the chamber of commerce, economic development commission and business owners in the city. They all spoke in favour saying the city would benefit from a destination type of development anchored by a casino. Councillors Ron Lunny, Rod McKay, Louis Roussin and Charito Drinkwalter also voted in favour of the motion.

Councillors Rory McMillan and Sharon Smith opposed the resolution. McMillan said nobody was opposed to growing the economy. However, he echoed the words of presenters, who said there had to be better options.

"Is this the way to grow our community. Is this the vision for our community?" McMillan asked.

casino vote oct 4

Councillor Sharon Smith voices her objections

Smith had similar concerns. She said Ontario's lottery corporation was losing money and the existing model was broken. Her research said 36 per cent of revenues in the province were coming from the problem gamblers.

"If that model's failing elsewhere, why would it succeed  in Kenora?" she asked.

Councillor McKay said tourism has to replace forestry and mining, as the city transitions from a resource economy.

"If we say 'Yes,' we'll have a long-term tax base," he said, noting the opportunities for retaining youth in the community.

Councillor Roussin said he wasn't convinced by the research on the issue, which he considered to be mostly subjective.

"I cannot make decisions based on subjective opinions," he said.

Councillor Drinkwalter said it was a matter of individual choice, rather than a moral decision. She emphasized people could decide not to gamble. She also referenced the presentation by Dennis Wallace at the public meeting last month, where he described the vision for a destination that would include a conference centre and hotel, along with the casino.

The city's press release reads as follows:

Council Considers Kenora a Potential Casino Host Community:

October 4, 2012 – Kenora – After months of public consultation and special consideration, Kenora City Council has agreed to the next steps in considering Kenora as a potential casino development at a Special Meeting of Council held today.
This development is a unique opportunity for Kenora which will create jobs, generate an added attraction for visitors to Kenora and establish annual revenues for the municipality through casino shares and land tax.
The City held extensive public consultation through their portal, public deputations and meetings along with surveys. The City saw an unusually high response to the request for public feedback and Council carefully reviewed and considered each comment that was brought forward.
Considerable review has taken place to discuss the social and economic impacts resulting from casinos. Council is confident that with the strong partnership and leadership from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) any social issues will be monitored and managed through reputable programs the OLG mandates. The OLG has been acknowledged as a North American leader in Responsible Gambling (RG) and its prevention, research and treatment. The City is committed to working with the OLG, Ministry of Health and local addictions service providers to review the existing addiction services within the City including prevention, awareness and treatment and ensure that adequate and accessible services are provided for within the community.
Council has been assured that the City will see minimal impact regarding policing costs and public safety issues. The casino would have a separate enforcement unit with a 24/7 presence. This unit would be fully funded by the Province, with no financial impact to the City, and there would be no changes to the complement of officers for the City of Kenora as a result of the Casino development.
Today Council is not considering a stand-alone casino development, but a destination entertainment and tourism venue that includes a provision for high level accommodations and convention centre capabilities. This is an addition to Kenora that has been absent and as we continue to build our brand as “North America’s Premier Boating Destination” we continue to give visitors another great reason to visit, shop, dine and stay.

For more information:
Strong reactions at casino meeting
Casino presentations on-line

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