The Town of Ajax has been taking its fight to keep its casino to court, and the community is paying for it in more ways than one.
Ajax has not only lost its latest case to try to save the slots at Ajax Downs — it is now covering the legal fees for the City of Pickering and Durham Live. The town has agreed to pay Pickering $30,000 and give $27,000 to Durham Live, totalling $57,000.
In June, Ontario’s Divisional Court dismissed Ajax’s application for leave to appeal the Ontario Municipal Board’s decision to give Durham Live the green light. The proposed complex is set to be anchored by a resort casino.
“This appeal was required to protect the Ajax community from significant traffic impacts and other matters associated with the new Durham Live Mega-Casino Resort,” reads a statement from Rachael Wraith with the Town of Ajax communications team.
Ajax lawyer Jeffrey Robles says a payout like this one is common in many corporate cases. “The rules provide for the successful party to be entitled to an award for costs from the unsuccessful litigant,” he said.
Files obtained from the Town of Ajax state that the total cost of the leave to appeal process is $98,600 and that to pursue this case, Ajax went over its 2018 legal-fees budget by more than $20,000.
Many Ajax residents Global News spoke with say they are frustrated that their tax dollars are going toward this case.
“I think that should be something that they need to pay out instead of something that is done by us,” Paula Clark said.
“If they lost, they should pay out of their own pockets,” said Conner Kaljuvee.
But, Shaun Collier, the regional councillor for Wards 1 and 2, says it was worth putting up a fight for the town’s casino.
“We had to defend that asset,” Collier said. “What we’re talking about is a $7-million-a-year asset to the town in revenue in the Ajax Downs, and we have to protect that.”