A vote for a casino in Ottawa won’t automatically spell the end of the Rideau Carleton Raceway, a member of the city’s finance and economic development committee said Sunday.
While committee members will vote Tuesday on whether or not to support a new gaming facility in the city, Bay Coun. Mark Taylor wants racetrack supporters to take a deep breath.
“My understanding is that … if the go ahead was given and the (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation) started soliciting proponents, that the raceway would be able to be a proponent,” Taylor said.
But with much of the casino talk surrounding possible location in the city’s core, racetrack supporters feel they won’t be given a fair shake.
That concern pushed the National Capital Region Harness Horse Association to take out a full-page ad in Sunday’s Ottawa Sun asking those who are against a new casino to call their councillor and tell them they “oppose making downtown Ottawa look more like downtown Las Vegas.”
The ad cites a recent Forum poll which indicated three of five city residents are concerned about the threat to jobs at the racetrack should the slot machines disappear. The poll also showed 61% of residents would support expanding the gaming experience at the Racetrack by adding game tables and 59% oppose the province’s plan to build more casinos.
Attempts to reach the association for further comment were not immediately successful.
Beacon Hill-Cyrville councillor Tim Tierney, who does not sit on the committee voting on Tuesday’s motion, said he has received several messages from residents concerned about the racetrack’s fate.
Though not a gambler, Tierney said the racetrack is useful for hosting other events as well, including the Gloucester Fair, and said there needs to be much more discussion before anything is finalized.
“There’s just too many unknowns at this point,” he said.
While Tuesday’s vote is the next step in the process, Taylor reminded residents that voting in favour of the motion simply means councillors want more information.
“There’s a misconception in the public’s mind that what we’re voting on, essentially, on Tuesday is yes to a casino or no to a casino,” he said.
“I understand their concern (about the racetrack) but I think it’s a little unwarranted at this (point). Who knows, this could be a good thing for them. It could (bring) more gaming there, potentially.”
The vote at committee will be held at 5 p.m. to allow people who would like to make comments time to finish their work day.