Cavan Monaghan Township council made it clear Monday that its preference for a casino location is at the existing Slots at Kawartha Downs facility in Fraserville in the township.
“If you use common sense, the current location would be much preferred over any of the four locations proposed by the city of Peterborough,” said Coun. Jim Chaplin.
The city has come up with four possible locations for a new casino: The downtown near Del Crary Park; East City along Ashburnham Dr. or Lansdowne St. E. toward the intersection with Hwy. 7/115; near the intersection of The Parkway and Crawford Dr. in the south end; and just outside the city to the west at Hwy. 7 and Lansdowne St. W.
The township would be willing to talk to the city about the last site, which is in the township, but only if any agreement would not include the annexation of township land.
The site outside the city would see the township continue to receive some revenue from the casino, and the city would provide sewer and water service.
“I think to put it in the downtown is ludicrous,” Chaplin said. “I don’t think it’s going to help the downtown. Existing restaurants, I believe, would suffer. I think you would see restaurants closing in the downtown.”
“This is absolutely a step in the wrong direction,” said Deputy Mayor Scott McFadden. “The discussion is about making a casino more accessible. It will be more accessible to city bus routes, which is absolutely tied in to the most vulnerable sector of the community.”
“We have a 14,000-square-foot facility already,” Chaplin said, “with ample land around it for expansion, and I think if a private operator is coming in, that would be more attractive because there is an existing facility and it’s a lot easier to just build on to it than to rip everything up and tear down buildings and try to build something new.”
Cavan Monaghan has shared in the revenue from the Slots at Kawartha Downs since 1999, collecting more than $3 million a year as the host municipality.
Council also took issue with the claims that a new casino would create an estimated 600 jobs.
“It’s not going to create new jobs,” McFadden said. “It’s going to hurt the regional economy. The suggestion that 600 jobs are suddenly going to appear, keep in mind that’s 350 jobs lost in another facility 10 minutes down the road. And it doesn’t even speak to the devastation that is currently occurring in harness racing. So any suggestion that this is great for the region is ludicrous. It’s completely the opposite.”
McFadden also disputed the suggestion that the capacity for growth at Kawartha Downs is limited because of a lack of servicing.
“Ontario Lottery and Gaming is pushing that it has to be on municipally serviced land. That’s not true. Some of the biggest slots and casino facilities that already exist in Ontario are larger than Kawartha Downs. They are already on private services, and that’s not a limitation. We have to get beyond the concept that this municipality is over the barrel on servicing. It’s not.”
Council voted to receive a city report on possible casino locations, to continue talks with the city and to have township Mayor John Fallis and McFadden attend Tuesday night’s special city council planning committee meeting on the casino issue.
Township council also voted to ask the city to join an economic development advisory committee that would include representation from the township and the county.
NOTE: About 20 people have registered to make presentations at Tuesday’s meeting,
which starts at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board at 1994 Fisher Dr. City council is holding its meetings at the school board office because the council chamber at City Hall is being renovated.