Column: OLG, City of Ottawa and Casinos

There is a lot of Casino talk around Ottawa these days.  Many of you may recall the debate in the 1990’s about whether or not the former City of Ottawa should put a casino on Sparks Street.  At the same time, the City of Gloucester was moving one step ahead, permitting the installation of Slots at the Rideau Carleton Raceway.  A few of the folks around back then are looking to revisit the debate and are again looking to have a casino downtown.  The problem with that is that it would come at the expense of the Rideau Carleton Raceway and its 1,000 local jobs.

The real issue here is the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) and their "modernization" plans.  Their plans call for one gaming facility per each of their 29 zones across Ontario.  Of course, they created the "Gaming Zones" and when browsing them it is pretty clear that the goal will be to close rural facilities in favour of opening new facilities in urban cores.  This is clear in Kitchener/Waterloo, Milton/Georgetown, Kingston, and right here in Ottawa.  The OLG has even said publicly on multiple occasions that they want their gaming facilities where the people are and it doesn’t take more than a short drive down Albion Road to see how the OLG can use the "where the people are" argument against Rideau Carleton.  In my mind, the OLG desires a casino in downtown Ottawa and I’m not sure how much say we really have in that.

At City Hall though, the story is that this is just the beginning and we will be consulted on the location and then the final decision will rest with us.  Personally, I do not trust the OLG to pursue anything but a downtown casino.  It is for this reason that I cannot support any current motions regarding a future gaming facility in Ottawa.  The OLG was less than committal in their desire to consider RCR as an option for a future casino expansion and they did not rule out any zoning amendment appeals should Council vote against their final proposal.  To be clear, I am not against the idea of a casino in downtown Ottawa but I am against closing the RCR as a means to get one.  Anyone who knows me knows that I hate being wrong, but in this instance, I would be more than happy for the OLG to prove me wrong in the end.

Mid-Term Town Halls

The town halls are continuing this week with the previously announced meetings in Manotick and Beckett’s Landing.  Next week, you can find me in Ashton at the Christ Church on Thursday, October 18th from 7-9pm.

Scaring is Caring at Saunders Farm

A year ago, a good friend and colleague of mine, Allan Hubley, lost his son.  Since that time, Councillor Hubley has worked closely with the Youth Services Bureau to raise awareness and promote acceptance.

Please join Jamie's family and friends as they Celebrate Acceptance at the "Scaring is Caring" event at Saunders Farm.  The Saunders Farm family will donate $5 from every admission ticket sold either pre-sale online or at the admission booth at the farm on the 12th of October, with proceeds going to the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa.

The event will be held from 6:00pm to 10:00pm at the farm located at 7893 Bleeks Road in Munster.  If you can’t make it out, please go to the Saunders Farm website and help honour Jamie’s memory by making a donation to the YSB Foundation.

9-Run-Run

9-Run-Run is Ottawa's Emergency Services' Run in support of Do It For Daron (D.I.F.D.) and The Royal's Youth Mental Health Awareness Study & Early Intervention Research Project.  Thanks to the overwhelming support of race participants and the community, the 2011, 9 RUN RUN raised $25,911.11. More information is available at www.9runrun.ca

As a heads up to motorists, the event will take place in the morning of the 20th on the following Rideau-Goulbourn roads: Stittsville Main Street, Flewellyn Road, Munster Road, Fernbank Road, Jinkinson Road.  Feel free to cheer on the participants as they go by and be cautious when driving these roads next Saturday morning.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact me at 613-580-2491 or by email at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca.