Kingston Community Wants OLG Casino Put To Municipal Ballot

Written By Janice Doughtrey

The people of Kingston reportedly disagree with their city councilors voting to approve the OLG casino proposal, according to a new independent research poll.  The discrepancy has raised the voices of casino opponents who agree with NDP leader Andrea Horwath, that the casino proposal should be put to 2014 municipal ballots before any gambling licenses are approved.

A poll was conducted on behalf of the Thousand Islands Accommodation Partners (TIAP), which operates in the county of Gananoque, located in close proximity to Kingston.  The poll asked over 500 respondents in the Kingston area for their opinions on the OLG casino, and who should have the final say in the decision.  The poll was conducted in order to determine if Kingston city council has made the right decision in asking the OLG for more details about the casino.

The response was hardly flattering for the casino plans.  Over 40 percent of respondents said they were strongly opposed to the proposal, while another 20 percent said they were mostly opposed.  At the same time, almost 80 percent of respondents – including a large proportion of casino supporters – said they wanted the community residents to have final say on the casino decision on a municipal ballot question.  The majority of Kingston respondents are against giving city council the power to make the decision.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has repeatedly said the province will let Ontario communities decide if the OLG casino proposals are in their best interests.  However, NDP leader Andrea Horwath challenged the government on their statements by arguing that the only way to truly let the Ontario people decide is to put the issue to a municipal ballot in 2014.  David Coletto, who helped organize the Kingston poll, says given the results – calls for the municipal ballot will increase in volume.

“At this point, opposition to a casino is quite strong and is the majority view in Kingston.  If Kingston City Council approves a new casino and OLG obliges, they will both be going against the will of Kingston residents.”