A casino will never net Toronto enough money to pay for public transit
Mayor Rob Ford was so sickened by the funding options
trundled out by Metrolinx to pay for public transit expansion that he pretended
to vomit when he heard them.
But Ford’s suggestion for new transit funding - a downtown Toronto casino - is so
deluded and out of touch that it makes me feel unwell.
Unlike some of my colleagues, I have been reluctant to tackle Ford on his many miscues. I’ve known him since he first came to city council in 2000, and I like him.
But from the day he was elected mayor, I thought he was in over
his head. To say a casino will provide Toronto with the cash needed to pay for the expensive
subways Ford wants to build proves it.
Despite clear signals from the OLG that the city’s cut from
a gambling hall will be less than $100 million a year, Ford still cleaves to
the wildly unrealistic numbers floated at the outset of the push to convince us
that we need a casino.
The province has already said that a single formula will be
applied to all municipalities that host a casino. Unless a new formula provides
every host city with a lot more money, Toronto
won’t get anywhere near the $100 million needed to persuade city council to
even consider approving a casino.
And that is unlikely, given Ontario’s own need for money,
the driving force behind the OLG initiative to shore up the declining revenues
it provides the provincial treasury by forcing a casino on Toronto.
The casino was not conceived to help out the city. The OLG
needs it for the sole purpose of relieving what it sees as a huge pool of
untapped suckers in the GTA of their money.
It will not part with a penny more than is absolutely
necessary to buy the acquiescence of Toronto
If it gives Toronto
more, it must proportionately give more to all other host cities. That means less
for the province, which did not start down this politically bumpy road just to be
Against this bleak backdrop, Ford pretends to puke at the
taxing tools to come up with the $30 billion needed pay for the massive transit
expansion proposed by Metrolinx, and says a casino is the answer.
At even $100 million a year, the city would need 30 years of
revenue to build one subway line. We’d need another dozen casinos to fund a
long-term plan to make public transit a viable alternative to driving across
the entire GTA.
Here’s an idea that is just as realistic: Why don’t we peel
a couple million off the city’s bankroll about once a week, take it to Woodbine
and try our luck on the slots, considered the worst in the North American gaming
industry for miserly payouts.
Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and win enough to build a