After pandemic delay, work resumes on North Bay’s $31M casino

After months of red tape and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, shovels are back in the ground at North Bay’s casino site. (Alana Pickrell/CTV News)

North Bay is one step closer to opening its Cascades Casino after construction of the new facility resumed on Monday.

“We felt we were far enough along with this casino that it made sense to build it out and complete it,” said Rob Mitchell of Gateway Casinos.

Construction stopped for several months due to COVID-19 restrictions before the company closed the site completely for the colder months.

“Last November we able to pour the concrete floor and get all the rough-ins in for plumbing and for our cooking and electrical needs,” said Mitchell. “Then we shut down the site for the winter.”

The 39,000 square-foot casino was first proposed in 2019 and was expected to be open by mid-July 2020. Although an official opening date is still up in the air, construction resuming is a welcome sign for North Bay Mayor Al McDonald.

“Happy to hear that they’re going to complete the building because you’re always concerned when you know a project stops,” McDonald said. “The fact that they’re reinvesting in the city of North Bay just (shows) us that they have confidence and their interest in our city is still there and the fact that they’re going to make this big investment and create the jobs in our community.”

McDonald said revenue from the casino should be about $1 million to $2 million a year.

Between 150-200 jobs

"Also between 150-200 jobs, which will be good for our area," he said. "And third would be the tax assessment that we’re going to receive on the building, too. So right across the board, I think it’s good.”

Although behind the original schedule, Mitchell said once the casino is finally open, it will offer something for everyone.

“We offer not just gaming, but live entertainment and a unique dining experience, an outdoor patio so, you know, we’re cautiously optimistic going forward, but we’re very excited,” he said.

It will also have a Summit Bar, which will run the length of the casino floor and table games. Mitchell said although construction is underway, COVID-19 is still a factor.

“We may not be able to open the buffet and we may not be able to have table games operational,” he said. “That will all be determined by public health officials and the Government of Ontario. But the decision has been made to complete the casino so we will be ready when the government’s ready and when this virus and this pandemic is under control.”

The casino site comes with an original price tag of $31 million. However, McDonald said the city isn’t responsible for any of that.

“We do have to redo the intersection down there, but the casino’s investing in part of that infrastructure spend,” he said. “We are investing in the intersection to be fair, but it needed to be done anyways, but maybe not to the extent. So there is some costs to the City of North Bay when it comes to the infrastructure side. We’re hoping to partner with MTO on it, but at the end of the day, we still have a big build that’s going to create a lot of jobs for us.”

North Bay residents have until Friday to give their input on what that intersection might look like, but McDonald said likes the idea of a roundabout.