After plans by the provincial government to bring a privately run gambling facility to one of five northern Ontario cities have been dormant for the last several years, last night the City Council in North Bay voted to have an old industrial property in the downtown area rezoned for a casino.

Unlike Sault Ste. Marie on the U.S. Canada border, and Sudbury, which have had casinos for years and voted enthusiastically for the province’s plans, North Bay has been more cautious. Last night, however, the Council voted to rezone the area known as the Kenroc site. Owned by the city and located on Lake Nipissing it has been empty for more than 20 years. Many development proposals for the site have come and gone during that time.

During the meeting, it was stressed by Council members that the vote is just the first step in the process and that there will be ample opportunity for citizens to voice their opinion about the casino prior to anything becoming official. Council member Mark King also made it known that in keeping with the “will of Council” he did move the item forward, but that “morally” he doesn’t support casinos. Deputy Mayor Sheldon Forgette, however, said that he “fully supports a casino coming to North Bay,” and looks “forward to that growth that it will bring,” as reported by CBC News.

In addition to the downtown waterfront property, the Council also wants a second city-owned property zoned for a casino; the “Mo-Ze-On-In,” a former strip club on Pinewood Park Drive.

Along with North Bay, Sudbury, and Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, and Kenora are among the five cities in northern Ontario, Canada that the province selected to receive a privately run casino. However, for years, the process has been stalled while the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) makes its decision as to which company will operate the northern casinos.

Plans to expand Ontario casinos were announced by the province about three years ago. And by the end of 2013, a private operator was to be chosen for the casino, however, the contract was never presented for bids.

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