The decision as to whether a casino can be built in Kingston may ultimately be decided by residents if a current bill at Queen’s Park is passed.
Monte McNaughton, the member of provincial parliament for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, tabled a private member’s bill in the spring that would make it necessary for a municipality to hold a referendum before a casino can be built.
Bill 76 has gone through first and second readings, and has made its way through the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.
“Everything has been done,” McNaughton said. “We just need to vote.”
The committee, however, hasn’t been struck since the summer recess.
McNaughton crafted the bill after hearing repeated concerns about the Liberal government’s planned expansion of gaming facilities.
“I think the (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation) and the government need to slow down and really consider the local impacts,” the Progressive Conservative MPP said.
The government’s expansion of gaming facilities is a “cash grab,” McNaughton feels.
“(Premier Dalton) McGuinty’s gung-ho to build these casinos because they’re strapped for cash,” he said.
“I think, according to OLG’s numbers and the Ministry of Finance, that they’re wanting to raise almost $3 billion a year from casinos. I think, before they take that much out of the economy, there needs to be some kind of process, and, in my opinion, there needs to be some sort of process, and a referendum, in my opinion, is the right one.
“Other than that, leave the gaming facilities where they’re at, because at least (in) those communities, they’ve been there for a long time.”
McNaughton said he thinks the referendums about casinos should be held at the same time as municipal elections so that it wouldn’t cost taxpayers.
The next municipal election in Kingston takes place in 2014.
“My bill does not specifically say that’s when the referendum would be held,” McNaughton said. “That would be up to the minister and the municipalities, I guess, to work that out.”