Special council meeting Thursday
Niagara Fallsview Casino
A special council meeting has been called for Thursday to discuss the city's continued concerns about Ontario Lottery and Gaming's modernization plan.
“We've gone on record with having serious concerns with modernization, the way it's being rolled out, and serious concerns of up to 1,400 jobs being in jeopardy (at the casinos in Niagara Falls),” said Mayor Jim Diodati.
“We've done a couple of public meetings and rallies and gatherings (opposing the plan) - we've met with the provincial government, we've met with OLG, and (Thursday's meeting will be about) next-step endorsements from council.”
Council is also scheduled to deal with a funding grant application for this year's New Year's Eve concert.
Up for consideration will be a bylaw to authorize the execution of transfer payment agreement with the provincial government regarding funding support for the annual show in Queen Victoria Park.
Diodati said although it's only June and New Year's is not at the top of the public's mind, planning for the popular event is happening now and any grant-funding applications should be submitted as soon as possible.
When it comes to the OLG issue, despite the province already saying no, some Niagara politicians continue to call for the termination of a request for proposal to select new operators for Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino.
Politicians have already held rallies in front of Fallsview Casino and at Queen's Park, as well as a town hall style meeting at the Gale Centre, to voice their displeasure with OLG's modernization plan.
Some Niagara politicians, including Diodati and Niagara Region chairman Alan Caslin, continue to tout a third-party study which questions whether the province’s plan for gaming modernization, including an RFP to select new operators for its two Niagara casinos, could result in up to 1,400 job losses in the region.
The study, commissioned by the city through its business development office last year, also questioned whether both casinos will continue to operate following modernization.
At about 4,000 jobs, the two Niagara Falls casinos form the region’s largest employer.
In April, Diodati and Caslin sent a joint letter to Finance Minister Charles Sousa asking the RFP be terminated, a request the province declined.
Diodati and Caslin feel the province’s goal of maximizing provincial revenue would undermine the original objectives of Casino Niagara when it opened in 1996, including job creation and economic development for the city.
Diodati said the city was also “assured” by OLG it would be part of the process for developing an RFP, which hasn’t materialized.
OLG expects to announce the successful service provider in the summer of 2018.
A press release issued in April stated there will be no further communication by OLG about the request process until a winner is announced.
The city’s two casinos are currently operated by Falls Management Group on OLG’s behalf. Last year, OLG notified the company it would not extend its contract past its current term, which ends July 10, 2019.