Poll: More than half of Torontonians don’t want casino at Ontario Place

The possibility of a casino at Ontario Place is not sitting well with more than half of Toronto residents, according to a new poll.

The Forum Research poll, which randomly sampled 1427 Torontonians, found that 56 per cent disapprove of a casino at Ontario Place while just 30 per cent say they support the idea. About 14 per cent of respondents said they were not sure if a casino at the Toronto landmark should be pursued.

Approximately three-quarters of respondents said if a casino is built at Ontario Place, they would likely not visit it.

One idea that did gain some traction among those surveyed was the possibility of a Ferris wheel on the waterfront. About 54 per cent said they would support the construction of a Ferris wheel at Ontario Place.

About nine in 10 said easy public access to the waterfront is “important” while almost two-thirds said it is “very important.”

Only about 13 per cent of respondents said it is not important for the public to easily access the waterfront.

The poll comes amid concerns about the Ford government’s plans for the redevelopment of Ontario Place.

The previous Liberal government asked for development proposals but stipulated that there would be no casino built on the property. The current Ford government has left that possibility open.

The minister of tourism, culture and sport, announced an expression of interest process earlier this month and said the government won’t consider proposals for any residential uses, proposals that require operating grants or capital investments for planning, design or construction from the province, or any land sale.

During his time as a city councillor, Doug Ford pushed for a casino at Exhibition Place, located near the Ontario Place grounds, but the proposal was ultimately rejected by council.

“According to the vast majority of Torontonians, Ontario Place is an important part of the city’s waterfront,” said Dr. Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, said in his analysis accompanying the poll.

“And while most wouldn’t support a casino on the site, they approve of a large Ferris wheel, similar to the London Eye.”

The poll, which was conducted between Jan. 15 and Jan. 17, is considered accurate plus or minus three per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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