Ontario’s premier Doug Ford has received backlash from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island who operates Great Blue Heron Casino near Port Perry, regarding Durham Live, a new entertainment resort facility that is scheduled to open its first phase this fall in Pickering, and has already opened its casino portion this week.
The operators of Blue Heron claim that Ford has broken an agreement to ‘limit’ the number of gaming facilities in Durham Region, saying that the proximity of the two casinos violates the terms of the agreements he made with the First Nations band.
“The Pickering Casino Resort is yet another glaring example of Premier Ford’s willingness to tread over signed agreements for political ends,” said Chief Kelly LaRocca. “This government has re-written the Ontario gaming map to suit its own agenda.”
The Province passed regulations in 2018 to allow the Durham Live project to go ahead “in breach of the government’s commitment” to the band to not operate new casinos in “close proximity” to Great Blue Heron, LaRocca noted.
“The Pickering mega-casino project would not have been possible without special regulatory orders from the Province,” she added. “The Ford government should respect and honour its signed agreements with Indigenous peoples,” reports Insauga.
The project faced a barrage of criticism earlier this year over its intentions to build on a rare wetland on the property, however, under pressure from environmental groups, the Province later revoked the order.
Developed by One Toronto Gaming, a partnership formed by Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and Brookfield Business Partners, Durham Live will be anchored by a resort casino and 5-star hotel and will also feature a boutique hotel, convention centre, amphitheatre, restaurants, cinemas, an indoor water park, performance venues, an office tower, and film studios.
It is expected to create 10,000 jobs in the city of Pickering and contribute $600 million in tax revenue.