By Tyson Leonard
Quinte West council has voted in favour of hosting a potential gaming facility.
The vote passed 9-3 during Monday’s council meeting. Mayor John Williams voted in favour, while councilors Bob Wannamaker, Terry Cassidy, and Jim Harrison voted against it.
The vote now means the city will send a letter to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation stating Quinte West is interested and willing to host a gaming facility.
Mayor John Williams stressed throughout the meeting that the decision does not guarantee Quinte West a casino.
Williams said he hasn’t had anyone contact him looking to invest in a casino in Quinte West. Williams said it’s probably because the current area available for a casino is small and out of the way.
Currently only a portion of Quinte West, north of the 401 near Wallbridge-Loyalist Rd is part of the OLG zoning area.
On June 18, council passed a motion asking the OLG to expand its gaming facility boundaries to include the entire city of Quinte West. Williams said he expects to hear a decision from the OLG sometime in September.
Before the vote a few people spoke out against a potential casino due to concerns of a rise in gambling addictions and loss of business and jobs from current Quinte West businesses.
“Any job gains Quinte would benefit from would be lost from the downtown core,” said Maria Slack.
Slack tabled a petition of 300 signatures from residents of Quinte West and the surrounding area against the casino.
Cassidy said council should listen to the residents who spoke at the meeting.
“There are potentially bad things that could happen that are not quantifiable in dollars and cents,” said Cassidy.
Harrison agreed and said even the potential benefits are not set in stone.
“There is no guarantee we are going to receive a cent,” said Harrison.
The details of any financial payout a gaming facility would have to provide the municipality are under review by the OLG.
Councilor Leslie Roseblade supports a gaming facility in Quinte West.
“We need good paying jobs,” said Roseblade.
Councilor Paul Kyte noted that earlier in the night Belleville voted in favour of a casino.
“If we don’t have it in Quinte West, it will go next door to Belleville,” said Kyte.
Referring to a potential rise in gambling addiction, Kyte said it wasn’t his responsibility to babysit people.
Councilor Jim Alyea also said its not council’s job to tell people when and when not to gamble.
“I don’t think you can legislate common sense. We can’t be a big brother to everyone,” said Alyea.
Williams said OLG is responsible for any social programs needed.