Downtown BIA to Survey Members on Casino

By RTH Staff
Published December 21, 2012

In January, the Downtown Hamilton Business Improvement Area (BIA) will survey its members on the matter of a potential downtown casino before taking an official position. According to a newsletter distributed this morning, the BIA does "not take lightly our obligation to ensure our voice properly represents the collective whole."

The BIA will survey its members via letter mail, email and telephone to get a comprehensive, representative response. "The BIA will then issue a public statement based on the opinions of our membership."

The BIA represents over 180 property owners and 430 business owners in the area bounded by Queen Street, Cannon Street, Wellington Street and Hunter Street.

Downtown BIA Map (Image Credit: Downtown BIA)
Downtown BIA Map (Image Credit: Downtown BIA)

Recently, a group of small businesses in downtown Hamilton and on James Street North submitted a letter to the City's Gaming Facility Proposal Sub-committee to express their opposition to a casino.

The letter reads in part:

As downtown business owners, we believe the impacts of a Casino would be neutral at best and possibly negative. Many people have acknowledged that while challenges remain, our downtown has turned a corner, helped significantly by the contributions and investments of many small businesses.

It has not been shown that a Casino will have a broad positive impact for the pre-existing businesses in the downtown core, nor will it advance our goal of attracting a vibrant mix of new businesses to the downtown.

It concludes:

We know that bringing tourists in for a few hours is not nearly as reliable as bringing in more residents who will live, work and play in our downtown core for a few years or decades. The day-to-day sustainability of the downtown small business community is largely reliant on achieving that goal, a goal that is directly at odds with the placement of a new OLG facility in the core.

The Hamilton Arts Council has also formally taken a position against a downtown casino. Its policy statement echoes the concerns of the small business owners:

A project as disruptive as a casino not only places the future of our arts infrastructure and the health of our most vulnerable downtown residents at unconscionable risk, but also contradicts the Secondary Plan for downtown Hamilton, a plan which cautions against the impulse towards large, simplistic intervention:

In fact, experience across North America suggests that Downtown revitalization most often results from a collection of seemingly modest actions by individuals, small businesses and community organizations.

In this manner, the statement continues:

What has been achieved to date through private investment, public dollars and immeasurable amounts of sweat equity is a cultural renaissance that invites meaningful participation in downtown Hamilton.

This was achieved by no single monolithic act or institution; rather, the arts grew in partnerships like the monthly Art Crawl, which invites visitors to explore the arts from one storefront to the next and engage freely in shared public spaces.


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By 1984 (anonymous) | Posted December 28, 2012 at 11:01:17

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By Dane (registered) | Posted January 04, 2013 at 17:38:03

Any results?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 07, 2013 at 16:43:41

Here is the text of the survey:

2013 Downtown Hamilton BIA Survey on a Casino in Downtown Hamilton

1. Are you a business owner/manager or property owner in the Downtown Hamilton BIA or both:

  • Business Owner/Manager
  • Property Owner
  • Both
  • Neither (If you are not a business or property owner within the Downtown Hamilton BIA you do not need to proceed further with this survey)

2. How would you describe your position on the City of Hamilton’s proposal to support a possible location of a gaming facility in Downtown Hamilton. Are you:

  • Strongly in favour
  • Somewhat in favour
  • Neutral/don't have an opinion
  • Somewhat opposed
  • Strongly Opposed

3. If you are in support of the establishment of a gaming facility in Downtown Hamilton what are your top 2 reasons (check your top 2)

  • A gaming facility may bring more tourists to Downtown Hamilton
  • Residents who wish to go to a gaming facility won’t have to go out of town for this type of entertainment
  • A gaming facility would be a source of new revenue and taxes to help pay for City services and new projects
  • A gaming facility would create employment opportunities for local residents downtown
  • A gaming facility may attract investors and new businesses
  • Other (please specify)

4. If you are not in support of the establishment of a gaming facility in Downtown Hamilton what are your top 2 reasons? (Check your top 2)

  • Gaming can lead to addiction and other social issues
  • There could be an increase in policing and emergency services costs as a result of social issues
  • The gaming facility could cause traffic issues
  • The gaming facility is not compatible with existing downtown businesses and may harm downtown renewal.
  • The gaming facility could reduce available capital for expenditures in other businesses downtown
  • A gaming facility in Downtown Hamilton may hurt operations at Flamborough Downs.
  • Other (please specify)

5. If a casino were to be approved for Hamilton where would you prefer it to be located?

6. If a casino were to be approved for Hamilton what type of facility would you support?

  • A stand alone building with lots of parking
  • A multi-use complex including hotel, convention, restaurants, entertainment facilities
  • Other - (please specify)

7. OLG funding formulas suggest that host communities will receive 2 - 5 % of the revenues. Based on other zone experiences, this could translate into millions of dollars of investment and support for Hamilton. If a casino is supported by City Council what priorities do you recommend they allocate these funds towards?

8. If a gaming facility is approved by the City of Hamilton and the OLG, would you want a separate board established to monitor the facility

  • Yes
  • No

9. If a separate board is established to monitor the facility, would you volunteer to be a Board Member

  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe, with more information

10. About You:

The personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the Municipal Act. The information will be used only for the purposes of collecting feedback. It will be used in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Questions about this collection can be directed to the Executive Director, Downtown Hamilton BIA, 20 Hughson St. S. Suite 807 Hamilton L8N 2A1 or by telephone at 905-523-1646.

  • Name:
  • Business Name
  • Downtown Property Address
  • Postal Code:
  • Email Address:
  • Phone Number:

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-01-07 16:49:54

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 07, 2013 at 16:52:26 in reply to Comment 84780

In my opinion, questions 3 and 4 are only partially helpful and questions 5 through 9 are totally biased and have no place in this survey.

The goal of the survey is for the BIA to form a position on whether we should have a casino downtown. Questions 1, 2 and 10 are the only ones necessary to determine this.

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By Dane (registered) | Posted January 07, 2013 at 23:40:48

Yeah I was going through the survey today and i have to agree the majority of the questions can be used to credit a pro-casino position regardless of the answer to #2. I mean if you don't support a casino who cares how they spend the money you don't want. Its kind of frustrating.

It should be interesting to see whether they publish the entire results or just a few of the questions. My expectation, unfortunately, is majority support for a casino. The arguments of jobs, the $4million and spurring development have been entrenched. Any alternative messaging just hasn't caught on.

How many pro-casino people have I been able to convert? Not many and the ones I did were more indifferent than pro-casino.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 09, 2013 at 18:41:22

A poignant opinion piece about the Hamilton casino public consultation process titled “A funny thing happened on the way to the (public) forum” by Graham Crawford has been published in today\s Hamilton Spectator:

Mr. Crawford is to be commended for his efforts in gathering background and lead information about the upcoming public forums on the casino file and presenting them to the Hamilton Spectator readership in a very organized and constructive format.

While my views are largely similar to those expressed by Mr. Crawford, they differ on only two points:

1.“Concern 1: Rush to approve” or “Concern 1: Slow to approve”?

At the Hamilton Board of Health meeting on December 3, 2012, not only was Dr. Richardson’s report titled “Health and Social Impacts of Gambling” not discussed by the Board, the report was merely received, not adopted, accepted or approved in whole or in part, by the Board and then referred to the Gaming Facility Subcommittee. As the Hamilton community heads into these two important public forums on the casino file on the evenings of January 16 and 17, 2013, its Board of Health has not yet taken a formal position on Dr. Richardson’s report.

2."Exclude Great Canadian Gaming From Presenting" or "Invite All Casino Bidders To Make a Public Presentation at Public Forums"

While I agree with Mr. Crawford that Great Canadian Gaming, the operator of Flamboro Downs, is the only casino bidder making a presentation at the public forums and that part of the process seems unfair, the Hamilton community needs to ask Great Canadian Gaming whether the granting of a casino licence to them would ensure the continuation of horse racing at Flamboro Downs for the foreseeable future. This community also needs to know the plans of the other bidders which have so far been formulated behind closed doors.

Therefore, in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, rather than excluding Great Canadian Gaming from presenting at the public forums, all of the other prospective casino bidders should come out of the woodwork and also make presentations at these public forums. If there is insufficient time to do this by January 16th, then perhaps the Great Canadian Gaming presentation should be postponed to a third town hall meeting where all of the prospective bidders put their cards on the table. Hamiltonians and city council need as much as information as they can get and ask as many questions as they can from both the local public health and the economic perspectives before this community can make a fully informed decision on the casino file.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2013-01-09 19:01:30

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 11, 2013 at 07:50:13

This article titled "Casino operator waiting in wings" by Andrew Dreschel appears in today's Hamilton Spectator:

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By Le Chiffre (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2013 at 13:32:26

Missed these on Wednesday. Kind of a 50/50 news day for the casino set.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 14, 2013 at 22:02:22

CBC Hamilton reports that P.J. Mercanti of Carmen's Group has submitted a multiple party proposal to the City of Hamilton which “could possibly include hotel amenities, gaming entertainment, multiple dining options, nightlife experiences, live shows, luxury retail offerings and museum attractions.”

Mr. Mercanti has asked to make a presentation at a Hamilton General Issues Committee meeting in February, 2013. The next Hamilton GIC meeting is on February 6th.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2013-01-14 22:07:25

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 16, 2013 at 08:33:33

"A respectful call to the barricades for anti-casino set" by Andrew Dreschel in today's Hamilton Spectator:

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 16, 2013 at 22:23:21

These two articles were posted on tonight:

“Waterdown casino forum decidedly horse heavy” by Emma Reilly:

“Hard rock to be partner in Mercanti casino” by Dan Nolan:

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