(Released April 30th 2019)
During the Sudbury City Council meeting on March 19th, 2019, staff gave
a presentation titled "Large Projects Update". In one of the
slides, staff declared that a casino is permissible in all C2, C5 and
C6 zones. Staff is ignoring the
requirements for public consultation for any "proposed site"
before establishing a casino in Ontario stipulated by
Figure 1: Slide from Large projects Update presentation.
The Law and "proposed site"
Casinos in Ontario are Ontario Government entities run by private
operators. Their presence in communities can have negative
economic and cultural effects. Ontario Reg. 81/12 requires public
consultation for each proposed gaming site to ensure
citizens are willing hosts of any given casino site. It is a legal
requirement that citizens (not only council) are willing hosts of any
proposed casino site. Many communities have said "no" to a
casino after completeing the public consultation process and the OLG
has publically stated that they will respect the results of the
community consultation process.
Figure 2: O.Reg 81/12 requirements for establishing a casino in
It is important to understand that in the planning world, proposed
site refers to a specific location. The actual location of a casino in a community is the prime determinant of its
possible negative (or positive) economic, social, or cultural effects.
Ottawa was in a similar position to Sudbury with its Rideau Carleton
Raceway Slots and solicited public consultation for their proposed
site and ultimately submitted the results to the OLG in Sept 2017
before proceeding to convert the Slots facility to a full casino.
In their submission to the OLG the proposed site is clearly defined. You can see their submission letter to the OLG
Greater Sudbury staff received a
letter from the OLG on Jan 2015 stating that the requirements of O.
Reg 81/12 had been met, yet this was years before Sudbury had a
proposed site for the new casino.
Was there any public consultation in Sudbury
regarding a new casino?
There was a
public consultation process undertaken in October 2012
regarding a new full casino, however, there was no specific
proposed site referenced. Instead, the city identified four
zones and asked citizens their preference for the location of the
casino. The open house was held on Oct 10th, 2012 and identified
the four zones as Kingsway East, Downtown, Four Corners, and the
existing Sudbury Downs location.
On Feb 26, 2013 a
staff report was presented to the council of that time, outlining
the results of the public consultation in 2012.
Figure 3: City Report -Summary of Public Consultation
The results were clear. A majority of citizens indicated a
preference for the existing Sudbury Downs location. Further, the Four
Corners and Kingsway East locations received minimal support.
(NOTE: An FOI request to the city requesting the
actual data and supporting materials from the public consultation
process in 2012 was denied. The city stated the information was
"lost". The OLG also refused to share the information.)
This conclusion was further verified by a
Chamber of Commerce Oracle Poll in the summer of 2013, sent to
1,032 of its members. It shows a clear preference for the Sudbury Downs
Location and minimal support for the Kingsway East location.
Figure 4: Chamber of Commerce verification of Public
Is present council aware of the
results of the public consultation?
On April 10, 2018, as council contemplated final approval of the
Kingsway location, councillor Fern Cormier asked city staff for a
summary of the results of the required public consultation completed in
2012. The video below covers both his question and the response
to watch 3:24)
Video 1: Staff statement on summary of public consultation.
The staff member responded with.....
"I think it is fair to say, and we certainly have characterized
this for proponents and the OLG, is that we put out four areas for
discussion and the community consensus I would say in terms of the
response that we received back was that the downtown was not an
appropriate location for a gaming facility."
He then concluded with.....
"Beyond that there were not really any overwhelming conclusions
The response by this staff member is deceptive. He failed to mention
the fact that the majority of citizens preferred the Sudbury Downs
location, and that the Kingsway East location received
Did the staff member actually read the staff report on the Summary of Public
Consultation? (Hint: He wrote it.)
Was council open to public
consultation during the planning process for the casino?
No they were not. The planning act requires council members to
remain unbiased throughout the planning process. This is to ensure
council can objectively consider citizen input to any proposed
development. The following video from November 22nd, 2018
demonstrates councils attitude towards public consultation for the
proposed site of the new casino.
to watch 4:26)
Video 2: Council denies public consultation during planning
Councilor statements include;
"The either, or, debate is finished, We are not debating the casino
"The casino issue is not before us"
These statements make it clear that members of council were not open to
public consultation during the planning process. Not one concern
brought forward, including the
Urban Metrics Report, was commented on, debated, or considered in
any way in the final decision. This demonstrated clear bias in the
planning process and is contrary to Ontario Planning Law.
The councilors contention that we already have a casino and it is
simply "moving" shows their lack of understanding of the implications
of the OLG's Casino Modernization Plan. The OLG Casino Modernization
Plan contemplates a significant change in the nature of gambling
through the addition of table games and may, or may not, involve a
change of location. Both the expansion of gambling, and the possible
change of location, are the reasons public consultation is required
under O.Reg 81/12.
Further, in a report
dated March 12, 2018, the city planning staff indicated ;
"This staff report will provide additional information with respect
these themes with the exception of socio-economic impacts, as the
socio-economic impacts of gambling fall outside of the scope of these
land use planning matters."
How can planning staff make such a statement when social and economic
concerns are required to be considered as outlined by the Provincial
Policy Statements and our own official plan, let alone the requirements
under O. Reg 81/12.
O.Reg 81/12 is clear that public consultation and a council declaration
must be made for any "proposed site". Sudbury did not have a
proposed site until June 10th, 2017, when the casino was added to the
Kingsway Entertainment District. The present staff and council position
that a casino can locate anywhere in the community ignores this legal
Council and staff are assuming the public consultation of 2012 is
sufficient to meet the regulations for any location, however, that
consultation showed a clear majority of citizens preferred the new full
casino be built at the existing Sudbury Downs site while the Kingsway
East location received only minimal support.
Council has been miss-informed by staff regarding the results of the
past public consultation that the city and OLG contend meet the
requirements of OReg 81/12.
Further, the "willing host" and "bias" issues are presently before the
LPAT tribunal. (It should be noted LPAT has yet to rule on a motion of
jurisdiction, which may force these issues to Superior Court.) To
grant a building permit for any location, temporary or not, would be
subject to revocation should the appeals be successful.
About the 2012/2013 willing host process and "Free"
There never was strong support for a casino in Sudbury, and during the
2012/2013 debate, council sold the casino to the public as a method of
possibly getting a free amenity such as a convention center or OHL
arena. There were many press articles like the one below where
councilors and the mayor claimed that a casino would come with free
public amenities to benefit the community.
Figure 5: May 2013 Ad
In her state of the city address in June 2013 the mayor re-iterated
the contention of amenities "at no cost to taxpayers". Following is
text from her speech....
Figure 5: Mayor "State of the City" address excerpt.
In a staff report to city
council dated August 12, 2013, staff made it clear to council that they
were not adopting any official position on the location of the casino.
Further, they stated they were simply seeing what "free" amenities
could be leveraged from prospective bidders. From the report.....
"Throughout the interactions with all private sector proponents, staff
have been careful to acknowledge that Council has not adopted an
official position on the question of the desired location for a new
facility. We have indicated that there is a latent interest in seeing
what amenities might be leveraged as part of this opportunity, either
directly or indirectly. "
In summary, the community was told there would be free public amenities
with any new casino. The casino proposed for the Kingsway Entertainment
District comes with no free public amenities, in fact, taxpayers are
subsidizing the casino through the biased cost sharing agreement.
This classic "bait and switch" was completed with no public