The relations between the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation and the Province of Ontario have taken a took a turn for the worse. The First Nation is outraged by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s decision to launch a brand-new billion-dollar casino in the Greater Toronto Area. There are also plans to take further action and mediate with the local government.
It should be mentioned that in 2016, MSIFN, which owns Great Blue Heron Casino, agreed on terms with the OLG to ensure that the casino would be operated in a comparative manner to other government casinos in the GTA. Its revenue would be provided to the First Nation, as a way of supporting its development and services, such as the provision of clean drinking water.
No Without Consultation Again
In a press release, the First Nation remarked that it has agreed to terms with the OLG and the government with a shared understanding that the two will act in good faith and in accordance with the contractual obligations. Chief Kelly LaRocca stated that once more the government is acting without consultation and putting the Nation’s Great Blue Heron Casino at disadvantage.
She said that the tribe has been in discussions with the local government and OLG, on the matter for years, and they have finally reached the point of entering mediation in the coming months. The lawyer noted that the Ford government again chose to invoke its decision and ask questions later, which was an utter disregard to the First Nation and the Honour of the Crown.
OLG’s new casino would be located next to Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto and it would be titled Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto as it would be operated by Great Canadian Gaming. It was announced this week that it will open in the summer of 2023, and on top of a spacious casino floor, it would also feature a hotel, an entertainment centre, a new parkade, and more.
Ms. LaRocca continued by saying the First Nation will again focus on its good faith efforts on the mediation and will prepare for whatever comes next in line. Mediation between the provincial government of Ontario and the MSIFN in relation to the province’s action to date is on schedule to kick off this summer.
The relationship between the First Nation and the local government has been poor for a while, due to OLG’s Pickering Casino Resort launch in July 2021. Shortly after the launch of the new casino, the Nation claimed that the new property was a violation of the negotiated agreement for gaming in the Greater Toronto Area and it has repeatedly reminded the government about the issue.
Back then the MSIFN claimed that the Ford government has approved a regulation to allow the introduction of Picker Casino Resort, thus breaching the government’s agreement with the First Nation. The tribe’s casino and the Pickering one are about 50 kilometres apart. Ms. LaRocca claimed that the province has amended the Ontario gaming map to suit its own agenda.
Source: “First Nation Appalled by Announcement of New Mega-Casino in Toronto” PR Newswire, March 9, 2023