Huge Economic Benefits Expected from Hard Rock Ottawa Casino but Don’t Bet On It

Since the first casino opened in Windsor in 1994, there has been a proliferation of gaming (a.k.a. gambling) facilities throughout Ontario under the watchful authority of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Authority (OLG). From the early bingo halls in church basements to today’s mega hotel-casino-theatre entertainment complexes, gaming is big business in North America.

The Nation’s Capital has had a part of the casino wave. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was discussion about getting a casino on Sparks Street to inject some excitement to the otherwise dead downtown. Instead, Hull (now Gatineau) beat Ottawa  to the punch and built a world class Casino du Lac-Leamy with a 5-star Hilton Hotel within an eye’s view of the then young National Gallery of Canada. When Lac-Leamy opened in March 1996, there were 14 other gaming establishments within a 500-mile radius compared to more than 80 two decades later (Ottawa Citizen). Ottawa did get on to the casino bandwagon eventually albeit in a less celebratory way when the 1,200 slot machines were installed at the Rideau Carleton Raceway in 2000 to support the declining horse racing attendance. Continue reading

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The Economics of Illusion: The Salvation Army’s Proposed Social Services Complex in Vanier

The Salvation Army recently hired Shore-Tanner and Associates to study the potential economic impacts of a $53 million social services complex/community hub on Vanier (see Ottawa Citizen article). The complex will provide 350 beds including 140 for an emergency shelter, an upgraded Thrift Shop, and space for the provision of a wide range of social services. According to the Ottawa Citizen article, the Shore-Tanner report predicts “there would be 137 new full-time jobs in agriculture, professional services, trades, utilities and property maintenance that would be open to Vanier residents. Another 275 full-time jobs could be created in other related areas and there would be demand for a new 7,000-square-foot retail and service space near the Salvation Army complex.” Continue reading

The Federal Government and Ottawa’s Economy: The Sky is not Falling

At the February 2012 official opening of Invest Ottawa (the City’s economic development / investment attraction agency),  Mayor Jim Watson stated,

“One of my priorities . . . was to establish Invest Ottawa to help attract more investment and foster greater economic growth in our nation’s capital. . . Recent headlines surrounding public service job losses underscore the need to diversify our local economy, and Invest Ottawa is going to help us do just that. Invest Ottawa is a clear commitment to inspire more entrepreneurs to build our prosperity to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”  (Invest Ottawa opening Mayor Watson))

Later in the year, the Mayor further elaborated in his 2012 State of the Economy address on the challenges facing the City resulting from the federal government’s austerity measures. He stated that “in this new federal government dynamic, we have the most to lose but we also have the most to gain”. To prevent Ottawa from becoming “a shadow of its former self”, the Mayor added that “we can no longer depend on the federal government to shelter us from [economic] storms or drive our economy … instead, we will construct a new economic engine … an engine that is more diverse – that runs on more than just one industry” (2012 State of the Economy link). This doom and gloom shows up even the City’s Economic Development Strategy stating that the local economy is in peril as a result to the federal government’s budget cutbacks.  Continue reading