Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Council mulling casino question

Should Fort Frances be considered as a site for a casino?
That’s a question local voters may see on the ballot for the Oct. 27 municipal election.

Council agreed yesterday to the following question:
“Are you in favour of council for the Corporation of the Town of Fort Frances advising the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Corporation that Fort Frances may be considered by them as a site for the location of a new gaming facility (casino), the location of which within the boundaries of Fort Frances is to be determined?”
The decision to put the question on the ballot has not been finalized yet.
First, the public will be invited a meeting on Monday, April 14 (during the regular council meeting) to provide input.
If council so chooses, it then will vote to pass a bylaw to put the question on the ballot at its April 28 meeting.
Both Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig and Mayor Roy Avis noted this vote does not mean the town is going into the business of building a casino here.
Rather, it’s meant to indicate to the OLG that the town and its residents are open to being considered for being a site.
“I understand that you have to have a consensus from the community to even be considered for a location,” Mayor Avis said.
“So what we’re trying to do here is get a consensus going forward.”
He added there’s no guarantee the public will vote “yes,” recalling that in 1997, a similar vote was held and the majority of residents said “no.”
The matter has been “on the shelf” ever since.
“Now, with the economic downturn and what’s going on, we’re going to approach the residents; see if they’d be interested in that,” Mayor Avis explained.
If they vote “yes,” he said it will give council of the day the chance to move forward with the support of the residents should an opportunity arise.
“It’s an indication we’d like to get from the community,” said the mayor.
“At that point, then we know that we have their support if we were to move in that direction.”
Clerk Glenn Treftlin noted that even if the question is put to a vote Oct. 27, there’s several things that must happen.
First, at least 50 percent of eligible voters have to vote on the question when they fill out their ballot.
Secondly, at least 50 percent of votes being cast have to be in the affirmative (“yes”).
On a “yes” vote, council will pass a resolution giving the OLG permission to consider Fort Frances as a site for a new gaming facility (casino).
On a “no” vote, the town shall do nothing within its jurisdiction to implement the matter for a period of four years following voting day.

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