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.

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