Casino revenue sharing may end after 2026 – City of Pickering

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Published March 25, 2024 at 4:09 pm

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The 2024 budget presented by Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe last month through his Strong Mayor Powers was a document of restraint, with the city’s portion representing just a 1.25 per cent increase on tax rolls.

But achieving those relatively painless numbers was not without sacrifices and one grand gesture of goodwill may take the fall in the coming years, with Council debating the merits of continuing casino revenue sharing with Durham Region after the current deal ends in 2026.

The City agreed to share a portion of its casino hosting fees for Pickering Casino last year, with the Region declaring those funds to be used for affordable housing.

Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe

Under the terms of the arrangement, Pickering keeps the first $10 million, with Durham receiving a portion of funds after that to a maximum of $6 million per year.

The deal is worth close to $2 million a year to the Region.

The motion, put on the table by Councillors Lisa Robinson and Maurice Brenner, acknowledges that the Council “cannot compel” a future council to terminate the agreement but declared the cost-sharing is putting a “financial strain” on the City.

The motion, if approved, will call for a review of the deal “with a view to considering whether or not it is appropriate” to continue any revenue sharing after the end of the contract; and to explore other options for the allocation of future casino funds,
“including the possibility of retaining all revenue generated from the
Pickering Casino.”

The budget, which included $108.6 million in capital expenditures, will likely see other sacrificial lambs, with more than a dozen projects being cancelled or postponed (if the staff report is approved), from a $3.5 million land purchase for the expansion of the #5 Fire Station on Bayly Street and more than $600,000 in sidewalk replacements to $10,000 for the installation of an outdoor drop box at the Central Library.

Staff attendance at two international conferences – the DELL World conference in Las Vegas and the SAP Sapphire Conference in Orlando – are still on the agenda, however, with total costs not to exceed $8,000.

Staff is also recommended padding up several reserve funds in anticipation of future shortfalls and establishing a Building Faster Fund for moneys received from the Province for the City meeting its housing targets.

Pickering received $5.2 million last week from Premier Doug Ford for exceeding those targets.

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