WATCH: 'Casino convert' weighs in at Scarborough forum
A politician who was initially against having a casino in his city explained why he changed his mind, as the latest round of Toronto's casino debate went at Scarborough's Parkway Mall on Saturday.
Chris Friel lead the opposition on Brantford City Council when the issue was debated there in the 1990's.
He championed an ultimately unsuccessful effort to block the casino's construction.
Today, as Brantford's mayor, Friel can be counted among the 'casino converted.'
The OLG Casino Brantford, formerly the Brantford Charity Casino, has been open since 1999.
Friel says stories from casino proponents of a cash bonanza never played out but nor did the doomsday prophecies from the 'no' side.
He believes Toronto's casino reality will land somewhere in the middle, but will ultimately be beneficial for the city.
"Within the matter of a decade, no one will remember what the debate was about and it will be just another industry in [Toronto]," he says.
Local city councillor Michael Thompson set up a stage near the south entrance of the mall for key players on both sides of the issue to share their thoughts.
About 120 people put their Saturday shopping on hold to listen in.
Representatives from Ontario Lottery & Gaming, anti-casino advocates 'No Casino Toronto,' and Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Chief Medical Officer of Health spent 2 hours making powerpoint presentations and participating in a question-and-answer session from residents in the Ward and several others who were visiting from elsewhere in the city.
While some have already decided that rolling the dice on a new casino is the right way to go for Toronto, not everyone was moved by Friel's endorsement.
One Scarborough resident tells NEWSTALK 1010, "it doesn't fit in with my model of what Toronto should be and that is a 'family' city."