Mayor Rob Ford is ratcheting up the pressure on undecided city councillors as his 13-member executive committee sits down to debate the merits of a multi billion dollar resort and casino complex being proposed for the downtown core.
During an impromptu appearance at a rally held by pro-casino labour leaders Monday morning, Ford urged his supporters to call their councillor and demand an answer on whether they would support a casino.
“We have to get this done folks. Call your councillors and say I need an answer. The waffling is over. We know which way our team is going and with all the other councillors it should be a no or a yes,” he said. “If it is a yes thank them very much and if it is a no than I guess that becomes an election issue and there is an election in October, 2014.”
Ford has publically lobbied in favour of allowing a casino to be built, suggesting that such a facility would create jobs and pump up to $148 million in annual revenue into city coffers.
Not everybody has proven willing to bet on a casino, though.
In fact, the Toronto Star reported last week that just six other councillors out of 45 have decided to vote yes on the file while 22 others say they will vote no and 16 others remain undecided.
“This is our first step in getting this casino here and getting the good paying jobs that I have been harping on since day one,” Ford said Monday morning. “We are talking about 10,000 permanent jobs and 7,000 good paying construction jobs that the unions need.
Speaking time may be limited
There are 207 Torontonians who have signed up to give Ford and his colleagues their two cents during today’s meeting, but they may not have much time to do so.
A motion will be presented by Ford at the outset of the meeting that would cap the time allotted to deputants at three minutes and adjourn the meeting at 8 p.m. sharp, whether everyone who signed up to speak has been granted an opportunity to do so or not.
The executive committee will then reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to question city staff and make a final decision on whether to put the casino issue on hold or send it to city council for a vote.
“I really don’t think it is to the benefit of the city or any government to benefit from activities that are to the detriment of its citizens,” deputant Andrea Dawber told CP24 Monday morning. “It’s incredibly exploitive.”
Last week, City Manager Joe Pennachetti released a neutral report outlining 43 conditions that the city should place on a new casino development should they allow one to be built.
That report, which will form the basis of today’s meeting, said that city staff could support a casino provided that it is part of an integrated complex that includes convention centre space.
Mayor hopes to avoid marathon debate
Ford’s motion, which also limits councillor questions to one minute, appears to be an attempt to avoid a repeat of a marathon 24-hour executive committee two years ago, where hundreds of Torontonians showed up to voice their displeasure with a number of planned budget cuts.
Anyone who is not given an opportunity to speak will be allowed to submit their remarks in writing for consideration.