A new report released on Friday by the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) states that downtown Peterborough in Ontario, Canada would be hurt by a new casino on the outskirts of town. And representing over 400 businesses in Peterborough’s Downtown core, the DBIA says they aren’t having it.
The information contained in the DBIA’s 53-page report is the result of months of research of Canadian cities with casinos. Its findings indicate that the addition of casinos typically results in new investment in downtown areas, and concerns regarding an increase in crime are most often unfounded. The report argues that on a typical weekend, even if a mere 10 percent of casino patrons eat at a downtown restaurant after leaving the casino, that would still mean a 400 to 500 boost to those downtown businesses. It warns that if the casino is built on the outskirts of town as planned by the city council, people will be drawn away from downtown entertainment. That then would lead to the addition of new entertainment venues around the casino, resulting in a second entertainment district competing with the downtown district.
The report, much of which the DBIA researched itself, states that “There’s a reason why the official plan specifies that major entertainment should be clustered downtown,” according to the Peterborough Examiner. It goes on to state, “We have a number of major developers that rely on the city’s plan when investing in our community. If we’re going to host a development that will bring significant investment, let’s follow our plan and put it where it would have maximum benefit.”
The city and the Ontario Gaming East Limited Partnership (OGELP) are planning to develop and operate a new, multi-faceted entertainment property at The Parkway at 1400 Crawford Drive. That is why the report was written. A downtown location near Del Crary Park was suggested but was dismissed in favor of the Crawford Drive property. Preliminary approval for rezoning has already been granted by the Peterborough City Council, with a final vote scheduled for Monday. The DBIA, however, remains steadfast in its efforts to convince the City to consider a location downtown instead.
Lawyers, traffic engineers, and urban planners were hired by the DBIA to offer their opinion in the report. And the consensus appears to support the DBIA’s position and pokes holes in a report from the city staff that recommends building the new casino on Crawford Drive. Also included in the report, are letters from more than 12 downtown business owners who strongly believe that downtown Peterborough is the place for a casino.