All bets off on Cornwall casino study

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – Council has voted down a potential study on whether Cornwall should be back on the map for a casino.

Council discussed the proposal by Coun. Brock Frost Monday night.

Frost believes a waterfront casino would be a secure and substantial employer for Cornwallites and would drive tourism in the city.

“I think we need to give it another chance. It’s not to re-lobby Ontario Lottery and Gaming but to better position the city should OLG change its mind and put Cornwall on the map,” Frost said.

Frost reminisced on his job as a blackjack dealer at the Gananoque casino, saying it’s good for tax revenue and a stable employer.

The provincial government had earlier had a moratorium on casinos and a provincial report several years ago had dismissed Cornwall as a potential Ontario casino location.

Economic Development Manager Mark Boileau said a couple reports in 2012 identified 29 zones “and we were not one of those zones.” Boileau said they lobbied to have Cornwall on the map.

“I think there is some additional information (since that time in 2012) from the Auditor General. Together with information from other departments, agencies, social services and perhaps others. We could provide that to you,” Boileau stated.

He suggested there could be more community involvement than was in the past when the idea was floated.

“Not in the zone…we were not even on the map,” Coun. David Murphy stated, recalling that the map in 2012 ended at Highway 416. “I like the idea…but they are moving casinos…not granting new zones. I like the intent but I can’t support it because we are putting the cart before the horse.”

“I have tapes of the public meetings (from the 1990’s) on the public meetings on a casino (in the ground floor of the civic complex)….it wasn’t receptive,” Coun. Andre Rivette said. “We’ve had the opportunity before but (because we didn’t want it) now we’re at the bottom of the list.”

Coun. Mark MacDonald suggested the municipality could regulate its own casino without the blessing of the OLG, which drew confused looks from fellow councillors. “How much is the local economy losing to the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino? I’d like to know that.”

The city does have lottery and gaming licensing but it’s overseen by the provincial government through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission.

Coun. Maurice Dupelle said he couldn’t support it because of the social implications of a casino.

Coun. Claude McIntosh, a self-proclaimed casino player, said this “entertainment for seniors (story) is bogus.”

Coun. Bernadette Clement said she would like to see some public consultant but “we’ve been down this road” and doesn’t believe the province is changing its tune.

Here’s how the councillors voted on a study about the legal and Cornwall casino:

  • Elaine MacDonald – no
  • Maurice Dupelle – no
  • David Murphy – no
  • Justin Towndale – no
  • Carilyne Hebert – no
  • Andre Rivette – no
  • Mark MacDonald – yes
  • Brock Frost – yes
  • Claude McIntosh – no
  • Bernadette Clement – no
  • Leslie O’Shaughnessy – no
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