Will Woolwich Township Choose Values over Business Sense Again?

ImageThe recent Woolwich Township public meeting regarding the possibility of a casino in the township certainly did not disappoint – but it was a much shorter meeting than I had expected.   My old ‘friends’ from the OLG certainly didn’t disappoint either.  There were numerous grammatical and/or spelling errors in their PowerPoint presentation, demonstrating the OLG’s professional standards.  Makes me so proud of our government. 

And let’s not forget the speakers after the OLG presentation.  There were about 10 speakers, one of which I couldn’t tell if he was in favour or against.  I’m not sure if it was his presentation skills or the fact that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed.  I also discount the first speaker as he wasn’t even a resident.  He was a retired addiction counselor who had just recently written a book on some facet of addiction and made sure that the audience knew the book was available for sale. Did someone say conflict of interest or was that just ringing in my ears?  

Regardless of the remaining 8 or so speakers, I would say that it was about a 60%-40% split on the issue, sixty being against.  However the arguments on the ‘con’ side certainly weren’t a repeat from the early gambling debates.  Remember them?  It went something like this:  ‘there will be prostitutes’, ‘there will be soiled adult diapers in the parking lot’, and ‘our children will be exposed to drugs and criminals’.  Even today, those arguments are ridiculous, especially since none of them ever happened! 

This time the arguments, mainly from retired pastors, involved the question of “what values do we want to have in our community?”  This is a pretty good question – if it was posed to a pastor, but this question was asked of our municipal councilors.  So when did the issue of ‘values’ become part of the job description for a municipal counselor.  I thought I elected these folks to handle the ‘business’ of the township, to manage the bottom line of the township, to match my tax dollars to the essential services of the township.  I thought there was a fiduciary obligation with the municipal councilor position.  I don’t need the municipal councilors to tell me if abortion is right or wrong, or to tell me if homosexuals are bad people or good people, or if drinking beer makes me a bad or a good person, or if eating meat is right or wrong or if owning a gun is right or wrong, etc.   If the casino in Woolwich Township is legal and it helps the bottom line of the township, then give it the green light to go in Woolwich Township.  Will that decision demonstrate that Woolwich is full of a bunch of hypocrites?  Absolutely, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone.  If the previous gambling/slot decision that was made by Woolwich council about a decade ago, was based on the fiduciary issue, rather than the moral one, Woolwich would be 16 million dollars richer and they’d be merely agreeing to an expansion of a legal operation.  And I wouldn’t be anticipating a tax increase.  Not to mention the fact that the not-for-profit Woolwich Agricultural Society wouldn’t be up the creek, outside Woolwich Township, without the proverbial paddle.  If I’m to believe the recent development in the Rideau-Carlton Raceway situation (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/11/23/ottawa-casino-not-at-rideau-carleton-raceway.html),  the Woolwich Agricultural Society and Centre-Wellington Township are missing more than just a paddle.  It looks like they might be missing the entire body of water!  Regardless, I’m just hoping for more opportunities for public meetings on this topic.  With the American election over, I’m always looking for the next best form of cheap entertainment.    

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Will Woolwich Township Choose Values over Business Sense Again?

  1. I like your post. I do not think that a casino will mean immediate evil and destruction of our township. However, I do not support a Casino within the Region of Waterloo based solely on an economic argument. Casinos drain the economy of local shops and businesses similar to large box stores. The entertainment dollars spend in casinos do very little to benefit the local economy. The revenues from the casino are also based on whatever the government feels is the appropriate formula which can change at any time. Just look at our friends in Elora, they just about lost the whole operation just recently signing a short term deal. If the casino is build in Woolwich, I can assure you that the Elora slots will close after the municipality there becomes dependent on them.

    You also state that Woolwich would be richer by 16 million if they decided to build the slots here. This is also no true and look at what the raceway lands were used for. Hundreds of homes. Homes that pay a property tax that is controlled by the municipality. I believe that this is more sustainable development then a provincially run casino.

    For more information noWRcasino.com

    • hoosierincanada

      Matthew,

      I appreciate your comments. I am very familiar with OLG as I was a part of the Grand River Raceway ownership when the slots came to Elora so I know that OLG is going to ensure that the Waterloo Region is going to be serviced – and it will be very close to Woolwich, if not in Woolwich so my primary argument is that it’s going somewhere and Woolwich is going to have to pay for the negative impacts so why not have the revenue to offset those negative impacts as well.

      As far as Elora being dependent on the money, I agree that they became dependent but if Woolwich earmarks the revenue for non-operating expenses (as they propose to do), then the likelihood for ‘dependence’ is less. The finances of Woolwich are at a point where a large influx of cash is required to handle capital expenditure deficits and the only other source at this time is a large tax increase. I’m not a fan of that – especially considering the services and benefits that I get for my tax dollars now.

      As far as the Raceway, when the slots came in back in 2003, the Raceway was told to reinvent themselves in order to gain a newer/younger customer base and thereby taking steps to becoming self-sustaining, without the slot revenue. That didn’t happen. The Elora Raceway is operated almost identically to the way it was operated in Elmira and therefore hasn’t improved its market base and/or become any more likely to be self-sustaining. If the product that is provided by the Raceway isn’t demanded by the public, it’s time for it to move on or should I say move out.

      Again, I appreciate your point of view and if the question before me were to be, am I in favour of a revenue stream that is based on gambling or not, I would state that I would prefer a revenue source that isn’t gambling. But, pardon the pun, that horse is already out of the barn.

  2. 🙂 The horse is out of the barn indeed.

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