By Marc Venema
Belleville city council is almost all in when it comes to the possibility of a casino coming to the city.
All councilors, with the exception of Jodie Jenkins, voted in favour of continuing to support a new gaming facility to be located within the city of Belleville.
Jenkins said he believes there should be some discussion before such a decision is made.
“I think the discussion needs to be had on what the impact is going to be on our economics in the local area and unfortunately no one else felt that,” Jenkins said.
Belleville and part of Quinte West were named a gaming zone by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation in May, meaning one of the two could possibly be home to a gaming facility if a private sector company chose to build one there.
Quinte West also voted in favour of a casino during their council meeting last week, leaving members of Belleville council anxious to have it built on their ground.
“The city would financially benefit from the casino,” Councilor Egerton Boyce said. “Whereas if it was placed in Quinte West, we would still have our residents using that casino but we would not gain any financial benefit from it.”
Mayor Ellis shared similar thoughts.
“The way OLG has done the zoning, if Belleville does decide to turn it down, Quinte West has accepted it, the location in Quinte West right now according to the OLG mapping is right across the road basically,” Ellis said. “So if Belleville decided we didn’t want it, you could stand in Belleville and hit the thing with a pitching wedge and still have no revenue.”
Ellis admitted that the decision might not please everyone.
“There’s money that people could spend on going out,” Jenkins said. “Entertainment, leisure, recreation, those are all potential dollars that are going to be diverted from our economy and into the casino and then when we get a fraction back we are going to pat ourselves on the back and say ‘look at the good job we have done’, and year after year, millions and millions are going out and we are getting a small fraction of that, it just doesn’t add up.”
The OLG is currently in the request-for-information stage. They’re currently hearing from potential owners and private sectors interested in opening a casino in the area.