Welcome to North Bay Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited.  Last Friday morning at the official ground-breaking ceremonies on Pinewood Park Drive, the City and Province welcomed Gateway and the OLG for the announcement of the Casino starting construction.  Site preparations are underway for the construction of a $31.5 million-dollar new building.  The 39,000 square foot building is expected to create up to 300 jobs and open in July of 2020.  The year long construction phase will also generate additional jobs as the project gets underway.  Gateway also confirmed that the initial construction will generate millions in economic spin-offs for local businesses.

The establishment of a Casino in our City may not be everyone’s cup of tea and each individual will have a choice on whether they utilize the facility or choose to stay away.  That is one of the great things about living in a democratic society…individual choice.  We all are aware that there are social problems that can accompany gambling and we have heard many examples of the same.  Gateway and OLG will work together to try and minimize those impacts through education, identification and community supports for individuals with problem gaming.  As with other societal vices, individuals have choices and responsibilities when it comes to participation in those activities and as well, getting help when required.

The creation of the” Cascades” Casino will provide substantial economic activity for our communities along with another entertainment option for not only the area residents, but also visitors to our area.  As indicated on Friday, up to 300 jobs are expected to be created and payroll annually should exceed $10 million dollars.  This is money that will be spent in our community on homes, cars, groceries, gas, leisure activities and will assist our local businesses and entrepreneurs, given new disposable income from these new jobs  The City will benefit with additional tax revenues created by the new assessment and will also be provided with a quarterly tax free payment which can be utilized for community infrastructure or programs, determined by Council.  We will also see additional funds flow to local business on an ongoing basis, as Gateway has committed to sourcing locally for its ongoing needs and suppliers.

Some may call this a boon for our economy and others will call it a bust or that we as a community could do much better.  Both sides could be correct.  The morality of gambling, similarly to both alcohol and cannabis use, is legal.  Our Federal and Provincial governments have already made those decisions on our behalf and again as said earlier, whether you do or do not, it is the individual choice.  The commencement of building activity in the south end of the City hopefully will compliment the many other economic activities that are already underway and add to growing and strengthening our many businesses and institutions in our district.

Peter Chirico is the President & CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.