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City council approves expansion of the Rideau Carleton Raceway

After 5 years, City Council approved the Rideau Carleton raceway expansion on Wednesday. Rideau Carleton Raceway

Ottawa will finally have a casino of its own now that Hard Rock casinos has received council approval Wednesday to expand the Rideau Carleton Raceway Casino.

In a vote of 18-5, council approved the bylaw amendment to 4837 Albion Rd., which will allow the casino to expand from its current 35 tables to 55, as well as add a 2,500-seat theatre, parking garage and nine-storey hotel.

Those in agreement with the casino believe that this will keep over $70 million a year in Ottawa’s local economy that is currently being funnelled into the Lac Leamy Casino in Gatineau.

According to the city, the project will see Hard Rock Casino Ottawa invest more than $318 million over six years. It is also expected that approximately 3,100 construction jobs and close to 900 permanent jobs will be added to the city’s economy. An area traffic management study will have to be done before construction can begin.

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Those who were against, such as Couns. Catherine MacKenney and Toby Nussbaum, believe that a limit on gambling tables isn’t enough. They believe a loophole was let to fall through the cracks when it comes to slot machines. Currently, in the amendment, there is no limit to the number of slot machines the casino can have on site, only gambling tables.

Another major concern brought up was the strain this expansion could put on Ottawa public health when it comes to problem gamblers.

According to Ottawa Public Health, there is a plan in place to help those who suffer from gambling addiction, but the bulk of the issue is dealt with by the provincial government. Mayor Jim Watson believes that it should stay that way should they risk the issue being downloaded to the city.

Province has 100 per cent responsibility for addressing problem gambling,” Watson said. “We shouldn’t support the province in this. They get the biggest cut from casinos.”

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According to the mayor, the city is still dealing with the Highway 174 project that was downloaded onto them by the Ontario Government.

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Infrastructure in the area has also been addressed and the casino has delivered a letter of intent to the city to work with them in future infrastructure projects in the area, such as Leitrim and Albion Roads, two major routes to the casino.

 

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