No Casino Toronto victorious as Toronto City Council votes “No Casino”
May 21, 2013
Toronto — A gruelling campaign launched by No Casino Toronto that remained focused on the facts and true to its grassroots beginnings more than a year ago can claim victory in defeating a proposed casino in downtown Toronto. A large majority of city councillors rejected the idea outright at a special council meeting today.
“The people have spoken loud and clear and a majority of councillors agree with the overwhelming public sentiment that a Toronto mega-casino is not where we want to take our city. We can do better,” said Maureen Lynett, co-founder of No Casino Toronto.
The campaign elicited a tremendous outpouring of public support that ranks among the biggest acts of civic engagement in Toronto’s history:
- A petition presented at council today included the names of 22,000 Torontonians opposed to a downtown casino
- An unprecedented coalition of faith leaders of all major religions spoke out in unison against the expansion of gambling in the GTA
- Social media activated widespread support and volunteerism
- Business leaders from major Toronto companies opposed a casino
- The Rotman School of Business at University of Toronto provided evidence-based research against a casino for downtown Toronto
- 3000 lawn signs were placed throughout the city
“We are so grateful for the willingness of so many Torontonians who spoke out against a casino and who committed many hours volunteering,” said No Casino Toronto co-founder Sheila Lynett.
No Casino Toronto was launched in the spring of 2012 by three women to oppose the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission’s aggressive attempt to spread gambling throughout the province and specifically, the stated goal of locating a mega-casino in Toronto. Numerous cities in the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario have also rejected the government agency’s entreaty to accept a casino in their jurisdictions, including Markham, Richmond Hill, Oakville, Burlington, Kitchener, Cambridge, Barrie and Collingwood.
“The OLG positioned this as a race among cities to win the prize of hosting a casino when in fact it turned out to be a race to the bottom – which loser city was going to be stuck with all the problems that are clearly linked to casinos, from preying on the most vulnerable to gutting local businesses, to the presence of organized crime,” said the third co-founder, Peggy Calvert.
The grassroots campaign had the hallmarks of a David versus Goliath battle, where citizens mobilized against the deep pockets of the Ontario Government under the direction of a previous leader, numerous Las Vegas casino operators and other interests.
“It went on longer than anyone expected,” affirmed Maureen Lynett after battling the casino for over a year. “We’re glad to see it over and especially gratified Torontonians, who already voted against a casino in a referendum some years ago, remain strongly opposed today.”