Amid the parks, yacht clubs and residential neighbourhoods on the Toronto islands, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti envisions a booming red-light district.
The North York councillor has long argued the city should regulate and tax brothels, but saw the opportunity to renew his fight when an Ontario court struck down prostitution laws last September.
Mammoliti says tax revenue from the zone – and from a floating casino in the Ontario Place harbour – would bring in hundreds of millions in tax revenue and address next year’s $784 million budget shortfall.
“We are in a position [where] we have to find $700 million in the city next year, and it’s going to come from cuts and new revenues,” Mammoliti said. “This is my approach to trying to find new revenues. We could make up to $500 million with a casino.”
Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak expressed his misgivings on Wednesday.
“We’ve seen scandal after scandal with the [Ontario] Lottery and Gaming Corporation,” he said. “They can’t even seem to get the basics right. And we have border casinos today that are hemorrhaging money.”
NDP leader Andrea Horwath is also wary of bringing another casino into the province.
“We have to press the pause button when it comes to more expansion of gambling in Ontario,” she said. “We already know we have a serious problem with gamblers who are addicted to gambling.”
Mammoliti’s brothel and casino proposals were part of his stunted mayoral campaign platform last year, but he now has more influence as part of Mayor Rob Ford’s inner circle and as chair of the community development and recreation committee.
The councillor has said the nude beach at Hanlan’s Point makes the island a logical choice for a red-light district, but he’s open to looking at industrial areas on the mainland as well.