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Debate continues on Vaughan casino proposal

A player checks his hand during a game of Texas Hold 'em at the poker room in Caesar's Palace, Feb. 27, 2013, in Las Vegas. AP/Julie Jacobson

Vaughan’s mayor is trying to keep the casino dream alive in his city despite growing opposition within the community and on council.

Maurizio Bevilacqua and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) president Rod Phillips addressed the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning.

The mayor said the city can’t simply dismiss a plan that would bring in $32-million from an annual hosting fee and create 8,000 jobs.

“There’s people that understand the economic benefits. Also need to understand we have a responsibility to address some of the social concerns as well — which by the way we right now don’t have funding to address those social concerns that we deeply care about,” Bevilacqua said.

“We should be doing more for people that are victims of addiction, so this would give us an opportunity for us to help precisely the individuals that people that are against the casino are advocating.”

Bevilacqua said the city won’t get anywhere if it doesn’t take a risk, although he said he is willing to listen to all sides in the debate.

He also said council will vote again on a final proposal.

The OLG has not yet picked a location for a potential casino — that decision will be made in 2014.

Vaughan is the only city in the GTA interested in a casino, but it’s been a divisive issue on council.

In May, council voted 5-4 in favour of a casino. On Tuesday, deputy mayor Gino Rosati put forward a motion to scrap the casino plan, but that motion failed.