Local Press Releases

Liberals’ decision to end casino referendums creating upheaval in Region

May 10, 2013

KITCHENER — Premier Kathleen Wynne’s announcement to review the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s expansion process is nothing more than attempt to cover up the Liberals’ lack of due diligence when they quietly revoked the regulation requiring local referendums to approve new casino development, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

“The Liberals have pit communities against each other in a desperate race to raise revenue as a result of their hasty decision to end mandatory municipal referendums to approve new casinos,” Harris said. “Since the 1990s, we’ve gone directly to the people for their approval, but in one fell swoop the Liberals ended that process in a cynical attempt to accelerate their OLG expansion plans.”

In May 2012, the Liberals quietly repealed a regulation, which required municipalities to hold a referendum before any casino development could occur. In place of referendums, the Liberals established a requirement that lower-tier municipal councils should decide whether to move forward.

“These changes have created a bitter battle between officials in our Region because, as the Premier admitted, there really is no longer any ‘clarity’ with the current process,” Harris said. “Instead of plotting new ways to siphon more money out of communities, the Liberals should have spent more time considering the implications of revoking the requirement for casino referendums.”

In March, Woolwich Township Council passed a resolution welcoming a casino even after a survey it had commissioned found that 62% of residents were not in favour of having one in their community.

All municipalities in the process have voted on the matter except for Kitchener, which is expected to turn the idea down, leaving Woolwich as the only council that supports casino development in the Region.

“Given the overwhelming opposition to hosting a gaming facility in our Region, both from local officials and the people, residents in Woolwich should have the opportunity to decide the ultimate outcome of this issue at the ballot box,” Harris said.