OLG Agrees To Review Waterloo Region Casino Vote

Written By Janice Doughtrey

A controversial vote in the Waterloo Region of Ontario is complicating the OLG casino consultation process.  The controversy reached the ears of the Ontario government at Queen’s Park, where both Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa asked the OLG to review how casinos are approved by municipalities.

Under the casino consultation guidelines, the OLG authorizes local city councilors to have final say on whether to approve or reject a casino proposal for their respective communities.  However, the Waterloo Regional council, which oversees matters that affect Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, and the outlying communities, issued its own vote rejecting a casino located anywhere within the region.  Waterloo and Cambridge rejected casinos on their own, and Kitchener holds its own vote on May 13.

But the township of Woolwich, which is located adjacent to the Grand River Raceway and the slot machines onsite, voted in favour of a casino within its community.  The regional vote seemingly overrules the local council, but Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan says under the status quo, the township will move forward in negotiations with the OLG.

Premier Wynne was in Waterloo this week, and addressed the conflicting votes by asking the OLG to review how it authorizes approval for casinos.

“I do think that this is a problem when you’ve got municipalities with overlapping jurisdictions and I don’t think there’s enough clarity on whose decision this should be.”

OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti later confirmed that the Premier’s comments were under consideration, and the organization is reviewing how to proceed within the Waterloo Region.