North Bay council asked to sign off on casino
City politicians will likely give a final nod to North Bay’s proposed casino during a special meeting slated for next week.
Two recommendations are on the agenda, including acceptance of the conditions that were set out in 2012 when the city indicated it would be a willing host to a gaming facility, as well as approval of a standard revenue-sharing agreement between the city and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Corp.
The city’s original resolution six years approving a casino was subject to a number of caveats, including negotiations, confirmation and acceptance of the would-be private-sector operator, revenue sharing, site location and derived community benefit.
Keith Robicheau, the city’s chief administrative officer, indicates in a report that will be presented to council during the Dec. 12 meeting that the recommendations are coming forward now in the interests of “closing the loop” on the conditions contained in that 2012 resolution in an appropriate and timely manner and being proactive about the standard Municipality Contribution Agreement that will be required between the city and the OLG.
“At this time, it is appropriate for council to review the conditions contained in Resolution 2012-539 and confirm and accept that they have been addressed,” states the report, which provides a brief summary of some of the relevant information related to those conditions.
That includes how Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited was named the private-sector operator and that two properties on Pinewood Park Drive have zoning that includes a casino as a permitted use.
The report also outlines how casino revenue is shared with host communities, beginning with 5.25 per cent of the first $65 million from slots and four per cent from table games.
Expected casino benefits for the community are also highlighted, including employment and supply purchases during construction, followed by more than 200 jobs once the proposed facility opens its doors.
The report notes there will be annual property taxes and that casino operations will involve purchases from local and regional businesses, suppliers and organizations that may result in additional job creation.
It also includes a reference to recent news reports that Gateway plans to spend about $31.3 million on the project, which includes a 37,000-square-foot building called Cascades Casino with approximately 14,100 square feet of gaming space, 300 slot machines,10 table games, a MATCH Eatery & Public House and a restaurant called The Buffet.
“At this time, it is not appropriate to speculate about the annual revenues and the assessed value of a casino. Similarly, this report makes no projections of the share of revenue and property taxes the municipality may receive,” states the report. “A prudent and fiscally conservative approach is to do so following completion of construction and after commencement of operations.”
The report also cautions about making assumptions about what community benefits North Bay may expect based on the data for other communities.
But it does not address some of the community concerns, such as gambling addiction and impact on local charities, that are often associated with a casino and which are sure to be raised by presenters during the upcoming meeting.
The No Casino North Bay group has been sharing information about the meeting, which starts at 5 p.m., on social media encouraging residents to attend and speak out.
Despite that group’s opposition, however, it seems likely that the two recommendations will be approved given widespread support for a casino in North Bay and scarcely any objections from those around the council table.