Council to vote on rezoning requests for proposed casino in southwest London

A rendering of Gateway's planned casino on Wonderland Road in southwest London. Gateway Casinos

Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited has rolled the dice, and now it’s up to London city council to decide whether or not to move ahead with a casino project on Wonderland Road.

The company has a pair of rezoning requests for southwest London on the docket at city hall on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Casino debate leaves city committee deadlocked

The requests ask that two spots on Wonderland Road between Wharncliffe Road and Bradley Avenue be rezoned for a casino.

The debate on whether to approve the requests has left a city committee deadlocked.

Those in favour include Mayor Ed Holder, who said London has a lot to lose if the rezoning isn’t approved.

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“We lose $80-million construction, we lose 1,000 jobs — 700 brand new — plus the indirect jobs nobody talks about,” he said. “Annually, we lose $4.5 million of OLG [Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation] revenue sharing, we lose $2.5 million of brand-new taxes.”

READ MORE: COSA and Ontario Racing support Western Fair, unhappy with London’s casino relocation

Holder also said surrounding communities had shown interest in the casino and added that he is optimistic full council will offer its approval.

“If it doesn’t, like any business, Gateway has a choice, and it doesn’t have to be London,” he said.

“To me, the doomsday scenario is that it isn’t London, and instead of being north of Highway 401, they go south of the 401.”

However, Ward 11 Coun. Stephen Turner, who voted against approving the request at the committee level, said the mayor’s doomsday scenario is far-fetched.

“Those neighbouring communities haven’t started any of this process yet so they wouldn’t be in the position to quickly execute on it. I think London is miles ahead with respect to the process that needs to be done,” said Turner.

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READ MORE: Gateway folds casino plans for Western Fair District, signs lease for southwest property

Turner feels more consultation is needed on one of the most nuanced issues facing city council.

“The City of London has bent over backwards to support Gateway. To just say: ‘Let’s give them whatever they want,’ I don’t think that’s quite appropriate,” he said.

“I think we need to look at it with a critical eye and make sure all the questions are answered.”

Full council will vote on the rezoning requests Tuesday.

Gateway operates dozens of casinos across the country, with its most recent opening in Chatham-Kent in mid-July.

—With files from Andrew Graham

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