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Getting ready for a casino: North Bay rezones preferred sites

Casino group not obligated to choose either site, though, says city manager
401 pinewood park drive sweetwater turl 2016
This could be the site for a new North Bay casino. Photo by Jeff Turl.

Two parcels of land, one building full of one-armed bandits that promise to bring jobs and prosperity to North Bay.

Two choices for the casino. That has been the party line since the former Kenroc site was removed from consideration after it was deemed to be too small of  a property, and also after numerous objections in public meetings about a casino being built along the waterfront.

Two properties, two options for the proponent who will be chosen by the OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming) to spearhead the casino build.

Except, one city staffer says that this may not necessarily be the case. 

Beverley Hillier, Manager of Planning Services said following Monday's public meeting, that while taking the appropriate steps to rezone the two Pinewood Park Drive areas provides the eventual proponent two viable options, the casino group will not be obligated to choose either one.

The two properties are on opposite sides of Pinewood Park Drive. The first, located at 401 Pinewood Park Dr., is owned by the City and is the site of the former Sweetwater and MOE-ZE-ON Inn, which closed in 2014.

The second site, owned by a private, numbered business, is situated with its south end across from the northernmost part of the 401 Pinewood Park Dr. property, is much vaster (nearly 10 hectares) compared to two hectares for the city-owned site, and abuts Highway 11 to the east.

If neither is deemed to be acceptable for construction or location reasons, for example, the proponent can choose to seek other areas to develop.

There is much to be decided as far as ground-rules for the casino development, and many parties are interested to see how far the City will bend to make the casino a reality.

Also being discussed, but not decided, is how the extension of services along Pinewood Park Drive past Decaire Road would be paid for. City staff suggested a split between the proponent and the City is one possible arrangement.

Citizens spoke against the casino development for various reasons Monday, including the lure of having a casino on the drive into North Bay for a Callander gambling addict, that gambling addiction by hundreds would outweigh the employment benefits, and that potential traffic problems on Pinewood Park Drive and Lakeshore Drive would arise.

The selection of a proponent has been in the "sometime in the next few weeks," phase for some time, so chances are with the holiday season approaching, an announcement will not be made until early in 2017.