A planned meeting of the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) could have a packed house on Wednesday night if members of a group opposed to a waterfront casino at Lake Nipissing in Ontario show up.
According to the “NO casino at our waterfront,” Facebook event, which was created by Jaymie Lathem for the purpose of organizing a group to be a united voice at the meeting, 47 claim they will be attending and 88 are “interested,” in attending the PAC meeting where the committee will address the rezoning of two North Bay property’s. The area known as the Kenroc site, as well as a second city-owned property, the “Mo-Ze-On-In,” a former strip club on Pinewood Park Drive, would be rezoned from a C2 commercial zone to a C2 Sp., special, so that “Casino/Gaming Facility” can be added as a Permitted Use, according to North Bay News.
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 to bring a privately run gambling facility to one of five northern Ontario cities, North Bay has been more cautious. However, last month, the North Bay City Council voted to rezone the old industrial property. 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.
The rezoning, if passed by the PAC, would enable both properties to be available for use by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) for its Northern Gaming Bundle proposal. 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.
Citizens of North Bay have responded to the process by voicing their opinion against a waterfront casino in particular, and Lathem said, wrote the following on the group’s event page on Facebook, “Let’s make it clear that having a casino at the waterfront will hurt our downtown as an area that professionals would want to live, work and play in. Putting a casino in the Kenroc location would conflict with everything the recent Baylor report recommended.” Lathem notes that, “They make it very clear in the letter that they will ignore anything that anyone has to say on this topic after the meeting date.”
The possible rezoning resulted from inquiries regarding the availability of the properties by multiple proponents who have visited the city seeking out a possible casino site. If the rezoning happens, however, it’s not guaranteed that a casino will be built on the waterfront. Developers also have the option of choosing private parcels.