Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother are vowing to re-open debate on a new casino at the Woodbine Racetrack.
Toronto city council overwhelmingly voted no last month to a massive new downtown casino. And in an unexpected move, council also rejected plans to expand the gambling floor at Woodbine, a narrow vote that left the site’s operator concerned for its future.
The Ford brothers said on their weekly radio show on Sunday that they will ask council to pass a motion this week to revisit having the racetrack in north Etobicoke become home to a casino. They need two-thirds of councillors on the council floor to re-open debate.
“We’ve got to bring it back to council,” Councillor Doug Ford said. “Some of the folks understand they made a mistake. This is about jobs.”
Councillor Mike Layton put forward the motion to oppose the downtown site. It passed 40 to 4. Mr. Layton also asked council to oppose expansion in the area that includes Woodbine, which passed in a 24-20 vote.
The Fords were among the most vocal supporters at city hall for a casino in downtown Toronto and at Woodbine. Rob Ford said on Sunday that all they need is another two or three votes to get the go-ahead for Woodbine.
“Hopefully, we can get all the people who voted against it to rethink it and give Woodbine a shot to have a full casino,” the Mayor said.
However, it is not clear whether there is enough demand for gambling to accommodate a new casino at both Woodbine and in Vaughan, north of the city. Vaughan council voted last month to approve a casino as part of a major cultural and entertainment complex.
Nick Eaves, chief executive of Woodbine Entertainment Group, has said the prospect of a new casino going to neighbouring Vaughan would “severely compromise” Woodbine’s ability to compete.
This was the third Sunday the Ford brothers took to the airwaves since U.S. gossip website Gawker and The Toronto Star reported that the mayor was allegedly caught on video smoking crack cocaine.
The Fords did not address the allegations directly on Sunday. But they repeatedly criticized the “mainstream” media – Doug Ford said the media would rather stake out his family rather than look at where the “real waste” is at Queen’s Park, referring to the governing Liberals’ deficit. He thanked the brothers’ supporters for their words of encouragement.
“You know folks, when you wake up and you get the you-know-what kicked out of you every day,” he said, “you go in and you talk to the hardworking common folk in this city [who] say, ‘keep going.’ That just recharges my battery.”
The brothers announced that they plan to hold a “Ford fest” for their supporters on July 5 in Scarborough, at a location to be announced later this week.
“Ford Nation’s going to be in full swing,” Doug Ford said.
The Fords also plan to host their annual BBQ this summer at their mother’s home in Etobicoke.