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Rest of Waterloo Region should have say in Woolwich casino, says Zehr
Regional councillors say they want a share in the proceeds of a potential casino in Waterloo Region.
Looking to expand their footprint across the province, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. says a municipality playing host to a casino could see $5 million in profits funneled to government coffers each year.
Woolwich Township has been the most active of Waterloo Region’s seven municipalities in pursuing a casino, holding one public meeting and sending out a survey asking residents for their thoughts.
OLG president Rod Phillips was in Kitchener on Thursday to meet with politicians and business leader. He says Woolwich wouldn’t need permission from the Region of Waterloo to build a casino, nor would it be obligated to share the profits.
Politicians in other cities disagree.
“Five hundred and fifty thousand people should have a voice in that decision, and not just a municipality,” said Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr.
Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan even with no revenue sharing, a casino would bring financial benefits to Waterloo Region.
“Fifty-six per cent of our taxes go to the Region of Waterloo … so the region would benefit if we did say yes,” he told CTV.
Between property taxes and development charges, Cowan estimates that the region would see about $500,000 from a new casino.
Waterloocity councillor Karen Scian says the social problems of a casino in Woolwich would extend outside the township, so other municipalities should get a say in whether the casino is built and where its profits go.
“All municipalities in Waterloo Region will be impacted. We need to talk about what it means for the entire region,” she said.
Cowan says any plans for a casino in Woolwich are too preliminary for politicians to be discussing revenue sharing.
“At this point, we’re too early in the game to talk about that,” he said.
“We’re not saying no at this point. We haven’t even agreed to the facility.”
Woolwich councillors will vote March 5 on whether they want to continue pursuing a casino.