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Ford attends meeting to back downtown casino

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford looks through the displayed material at the latest Toronto Casino Consultation held in the gymnasium of the Etobicoke Olympium on Jan. 14, 2013.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Toronto's casino consultation moved to Etobicoke on Monday night, with Mayor Rob Ford making his first appearance at the public information sessions and highlighting the potential benefits of a downtown casino.

Mr. Ford arrived about 40 minutes into the consultation session, the third of five public information events that will be held.

When he spoke with reporters, the mayor said there's much to like about the project.

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"I've been very clear. If we can create 10,000 or more good-paying, union jobs and bring in revenue of $200-million, which they're projecting, I just don't see how people can say no to that," he said.

"That's great in so many ways."

Though the mayor used the $200-million figure, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. has projected hosting fees in the range of $50-million to $100-million.

The mayor also took another swipe Monday at city councillors who, he said, hijacked the first public consultation session last week.

At that event, Councillor Gord Perks climbed on a chair and apologized for the meeting's format. He said people had told him they weren't getting a chance to speak with and hear from others. Mr. Perks and fellow Councillor Adam Vaughan invited attendees into another room to discuss the project.

The city manager said changes would be made to the remaining sessions and they were apparent Monday. In addition to the open-microphone session, there was a formal presentation to open the event.

There was a wide mix of opinions on the project.

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Ted Mansell, executive vice-president of the Service Employees International Union Local 2, was among those to speak in favour of the project.

Dennis Hassell, who showed up in a Darth Vader costume, said the casino was a bad idea. He held a sign that said, ironically: "I support the mega casino and other death stars."

"I think it's a bad idea," he said of the casino in an interview. "It's making it too easy for people to spend, spend, spend."

He said he was asked to leave the event because signs were not allowed inside.

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