A group called Casino-Free Sudbury said that it would appeal the decision for developing the ambitious Kingsway Entertainment District in Sudbury, Ontario. After heated discussions and long deliberations, in April, the City Council gave the casino and entertainment complex the green light, which would allow the construction of a modern gambling facility, several restaurants, a hotel, and a huge concert arena.
There have been many critics of the casino project, proposed by Canadian gambling company Gateway Casinos and Entertainment. But one of the most vocal opponents of the gambling expansion has been a group led by local entrepreneur Tom Fortin. The group, Casino-Free Sudbury, has its own website and fundraising campaign, in which it has raised more than CA$225,000. A portion of the money, however, has already been spent. Fortin admits they have already used around $120,000 for experts, two planning reports, and the UrbanMetrics economic report which concluded that the casino would have severe negative consequences for the local economy.
The anti-casino lobby has also warned multiple times to take the issue to court and now, Fortin says that the appeal will be filed by Monday, May 7. The case, however, is not going to court but to the recently established Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), which more or less acts as the former Ontario Municipal Board. According to Fortin, no development can be expected before September when a case management conference will likely take place and the two parties will be able to attend it. But he doubts that any decision would be taken at the conference and it would take another few weeks for a hearing to be held and concluded.
It could take up to a year for the Tribunal to issue a ruling, James McKenzie, LPAT associate chair explains. This means that the casino project may be delayed significantly and the planned opening for 2020 may be at risk. Pending further approvals and permits, the Kingsway Entertainment District endorsed by the Sudbury Council would be constructed on a 20-hectare vacant lot, owned by developer Dario Zulich. It would have a hotel, an events and concert arena, a large parking lot, multiple restaurants and bars, as well as a modern casino facility. Gateway Casinos and Entertainment is planning to invest $60 million into the casino, which would replace the existing OLG Slots at Sudbury Downs.
Opponents Unite against Kingsway Casino
The anti-casino group led by Fortin says they have received support from a large number of Sudbury residents and from 500 businesses from the area. Indeed, multiple companies and organizations such as the Sudbury and District Medical Society are supporting them, as seen on the website of the campaign.
The Casino-Free Sudbury appeal will also be joined by an “inter-faith group”, the campaign says, which includes around 40 faith leaders and representatives of different religious groups. In an open letter, the religious leaders said that gambling contradicts the ethical norms of society and that the proposed casino would have a negative impact – social and health-related, on the vulnerable communities living close to the casino site.
Medical experts have also expressed concerns regarding the risks of gambling addictions. Other representatives of the local community would also file appeals, according to Fortin. Among them is a large group who believes that the construction of the property would impact the water quality by polluting Ramsey Lake, the city’s major source of drinking water. According to them, the development of a parking lot would require the land to be treated with salt, which would go right into Ramsey Lake.