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Woolwich residents speak out against proposed casino
A group of Woolwich Township took their concerns about a proposed casino for the area to township council Tuesday night.
Calling themselves ‘Concerned Citizens Against Gambling,’ the group of seven said they would rather pay higher property taxes than see a casino in their community.
“My concern is for the social impact a casino will have,” said resident Bob Allison.
A horse track and slot machines were suggested for the township in 1999, but community outcry sent the facility to Elora instead.
Many of the same residents who spoke out against gambling last time say they haven’t changed their minds in the time since.
Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan says he’s yet to make up his mind on whether a casino would be a worthwhile venture for his community, but he would like to learn as much about it as possible as the township grapples with a $63-million infrastructure deficit.
“Initially the reason why we started discussing this, other than the fact that the OLG has approached us, is that we said ‘We have a huge infrastructure deficit, so let’s look at economic development,’” Cowan told CTV.
Woolwich has the second-lowest property tax rate of the seven municipalities in Waterloo Region.
But with the community’s population growing by 27 per cent over the past 10 years, Cowan says the city needs to look at either tax hikes or substantial economic development to keep pace.
A staff report looking at the financial and social impacts of a casino will be presented to township councillors in late January or early February, along with the results of a community survey mailed out to residents.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. says a casino could bring in around $4 million in annual revenue for a host municipality.
Wilmot Township has also been approached OLG about potentially hosting a casino. Councillors in Cambridge voted against pursuing the idea.