In Canada, a lobby group opposed to a plan that would bring a casino to the small Ontario city of Peterborough has reportedly stepped back as an official party to the legal battle against the envisioned development due to funding concerns.

According to a report from the Peterborough This Week newspaper, the No Casino Peterborough organization is against a move by the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation that would re-zone land on the outskirts of the city of some 79,000 people so that operator Great Canadian Gaming Corporation can relocate its nearby Shorelines Slots At Kawartha Downs to the Peterborough area.

“This was not an easy decision for our members,” Sheila Nabigon-Howlett, spokesperson for No Casino Peterborough, told the newspaper. “We still firmly believe this planned casino development is a looming disaster economically, socially and environmentally for Peterborough. As ordinary citizens, we do not have the deep pockets of city hall or the Downtown Business Association or [Shorelines Slots At Kawartha Downs] and [the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation], so we must find another way to keep up the fight and we will.”

Nabigon-Howlett told Peterborough This Week that members of No Casino Peterborough intend to address the social and economic costs of the planned casino along with its previously overlooked environmental consequences as individual participants.

A two-day Ontario Municipal Board pre-hearing into the re-zoning issue is scheduled to start on January 24 followed by a full three-week proceeding from May 8 with Nabigon-Howlett declaring that officials had additionally disregarded provincial regulations and local consultation procedures.

“We are not giving up our fight,” Nabigon-Howlett told Peterborough This Week. “We want to protect our community from the social and economic costs of a casino and will remain a voice for the many people in Peterborough whose objections to this planned casino development the mayor and council refuse to listen to.”

A November survey commissioned by the Mississaugas Of Scugog Island First Nation and conducted by Ottawa-based Abacus Data found that 76% of Peterborough residents were against the envisioned casino while 74% believed that a full environmental assessment should have been part of the planning process.

Nevertheless, Nabigon-Howlett told the newspaper that No Casino Peterborough has found it extremely difficult to compete with the wealth of expert testimony and legal advice required for the long and complex fight to stop the planned casino development. She explained that funds previously raised through a crowd funding campaign would continue to be used towards fighting the project but that the group would be willing to return any individual donations following its change of direction.