It’s a well-known phenomenon that money gets what money wants. And it takes a strong, dedicated and above all persistent system to if not stop it, at least keep it in check.
Take the proposed Toronto casino as one example.
Toronto no more needs a casino than it needs a giant Ferris wheel. It’s not like there are hordes of gamblers sick and tired of having to take free limo rides up to Rama, or luxury bus tours down to Niagara Falls. They aren’t petitioning the Ontario government to move their beloved palace of vice closer so that they can take the TTC there and back.
There are plenty of opportunities in this city to gamble. I know, I’ve lost more money than RIM betting on the ponies over the years!
But in light of this proposal, one wonders if whoever made the decision to remove the slots may have been influenced by something other than a deep abiding concern for the moral well-being of Ontarians.
The current plan is to place this giant casino/hotel/entertainment complex in the middle of the city’s other giant entertainment complex commonly known as the Ex. It follows the same logic as putting the Rogers Centre (née SkyDome) down there. Again the decision is not driven by the common person who will actually be using the facility.
I took my granddaughter down to the Dome to watch a Jays game years ago. We took the TTC. It was a fun trip getting down there, but when the time came to leave, she was exhausted and overwhelmed by the crowds pushing their way towards the subway, and I ended up carrying her all the way home. Never again. Cabs from then on.
The obvious location for all these mega-installations is Downsview. I mean, gee! you could build another Las Vegas Strip up there and still have plenty of parking. It’s TTC accessible, and I’m sure they could find the cash to build a high-speed rail link to the place … if they wanted.
But it’s obvious that whoever makes these decisions doesn’t want it there.
No, whoever wants a Toronto casino is betting that they will make lots and lots and lots and lots of money from it. Their thought is that by putting it on the Ex grounds they will benefit from a ‘consumer recognition’ factor, that people from all over Southern Ontario – those who can’t play the slots at their nearest race track anymore – will flock to the one place in Toronto that they are familiar with, and are willing to go to.
Another interesting example of money gets what money wants is taking shape on the Toronto islands. For years, the former mayor, David Miller, fought to keep the island airport for small planes, and fought to make the islands themselves quiet and less commercial.
But this is a different economic climate, a different, more business-friendly city government. Porter Airlines is petitioning to have the runway at Billy Bishop Airport extended out into the lake on one end, and the Toronto Harbour on the other in order to accommodate bigger jets. Air Canada is already pushing to get more flying time from the island as it is. This will only make their argument that much more persuasive.
Money wants a big downtown airport – if only to bring high rollers to the big casino just across the soon-to-be-bridged-or-tunnelled western channel. It’s going to take a lot of effort to stop these gravy trains.