Premier insists Durham Region casino switch is a win-win
The Premier of Ontario insists the latest twist in a controversial casino project in Durham Region will be best for all of the players involved.
Kathleen Wynne stresses that a decision to move ahead with the 'Durham Live' gaming project in Pickering will benefit Ajax, which under the current plan would see the loss of Ajax Slots and likely its adjoining quarter-horse racing facility.
"My understanding is that there will be some revenue sharing (with the town of Ajax) that will happen," said Wynne at a news conference on Thursday morning.
Great Canadian Gaming, the company picked by the Ontario Liberal government to operate casinos in the Greater Toronto Area, announced the move earlier this week.
An estimated 10,000 new jobs would be created at the new facility in Pickering, with workers at Casino Ajax making the switch to the Pickering operation when it opens.
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish opposes the move and argues that the provincial government has ignored research that he believes presents an expansion of Casino Ajax as the best option for gaming expansion in Durham Region.
"The Durham Live site needs, by some estimates, a quarter of a billion dollars in new transportation infrastructure to make it viable," Parish tells NEWSTALK 1010's Jerry Agar.
"Why that site would be chosen over Ajax is a mystery to me," he says.
Parish, who estimates his town would like roughly $7 million in yearly tax revenue, points out that some 1,700 jobs connected to the quarter-horse racing track in Ajax would likely be lost.
He says it would have a devastating impact on the economy in Ajax and the surrounding area.
Mayor Parish goes on to pledge to fight the Durham Live proposal at every turn.
In a written statement, Gavin Dew, the director of external relations for Great Canadian Gaming, calls the plans for Pickering's gaming facility, 'an historic opporuntity.'
"It will mean a capital investment of hundreds of millions in private sector dollars, and opportunities for our entire team currently based at Casino Ajax. For all of these reasons, our team is excited to move forward and we will be sharing more details as the project advances through the municipal permitting process with the City of Pickering."
Premier Wynne says it is her 'hope' that anyone left in the lurch by the casino switch will be able to bounce back.
"I understand that its been a contentious discussion ... the job creation that will happen as a result of Durham Live will benefit the whole region, not just Pickering," she said.