OLG to consider plans for Pickering Casino, Durham Live

Plans for Durham Live Pickering Casino approved, OLG to decide in September.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG) is in the throws of a substantial ‘modernization‘ plan. The goal is to accentuate and expand Ontario casinos to be “more efficient, more innovative and to increase return to the province”. One such expansion project has been keyed in for a new Ontario casino in Pickering.

Durham Live New Ontario Casino in Pickering

It was confirmed last week that the Pickering casino is a viable project. The Ontario Municipal Board stamped its seal of approval on plans for Durham Live. The proposal, composed by Pickering Development Inc., would bring a major, all-inclusive tourist destination to the city.

Durham Live Proposal

The proposal for the new Ontario casino and entertainment complex situates its location just inside the border of Pickering, in the northwest corner Church Street and Bayly Street. If all goes as planned, the complex will include hotels, cinemas, a restaurant plaza, film studio, performing arts center, water park and – hopefully – a casino.

The preliminary approval by the Ontario Municipal Board isn’t the final step before construction can begin, though. In order to include a Pickering casino into the plan, the OLG must first lend its approval to the project as well. The provincial gaming regulator is expected to deliver its decision on Durham Live sometime in September.

Support for Pickering Casino

The majority of city leaders are on board with the plan to build a new Ontario casino in Pickering. Spearheading the cause is City Mayor Dave Ryan. It’s been estimated that the development will generate anywhere from 7,500 to 12,000 employment opportunities, as well as an annual municipal tax boost of around $50 million.

“This isn’t just about a casino, it’s about a range of employment and tourism opportunities in an entertainment node that will benefit all of the region,” said Mayor Ryan.

Opposition to New Ontario Casino

On the other end of the spectrum, there are two major arguments against building a new Ontario casino in Pickering. One issue was raised by residents of the city, while another came from their neighbors in Ajax.

When Pickering first passed a zoning bylaw in February of 2015 that would allow for such a complex, residents appealed the decision. They felt it would have a negative impact on traffic and transportation. The Board, however, denied that claim, finding that the town was unable to provide sufficient reasoning.

The people of Ajax were quick to protest the Pickering casino plan, as well. That town already hosts a successful gaming facility, Ajax Downs. Quarter horse racing has taken place there for more than four decades, with an OLG Slots parlor added in 2006. Building a new Ontario casino so close to Ajax could clearly put a dent in their revenue.

OLG Will Have Final Say

According to Pickering’s mayor, the Ontario Municipal Board showed overwhelming support for Durham Live. “They categorically rejected each of the arguments put forward,” said Mayor Ryan.

The Board’s approval has “removed a question mark around the site,” he continued. Mayor Ryan is optimistic that the OLG will come to the same conclusion in September, when the final decision is expected to be handed down.

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