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Northern Ontario city's religious leaders band together to oppose casino project

Casino relocation will have 'serious and disproportionately negative impact on vulnerable communities' church leaders say in letter to media
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2015-11-26-casino-roulette-wheel
A group of Sudbury's religious leaders are speaking out against the relocation of the Gateway Casino to the Kingsway. A total of 56 signatories have put their names down in opposition to the proposed casino. (File)

A group of more than 50 religious leaders from Greater Sudbury have banded together in opposition to building a casino on the Kingsway. A letter from the group was released Sunday evening, urging city council to oppose the relocation of the casino due to the social costs.

The letter states that building a casino on the Kingsway will have negative effects on some of Sudbury's most vulnerable citizens, including people living in poverty and seniors on fixed incomes.

The letter was released in advance of the rezoning application public meetings being held this week as the city moves forward with its plans for the Kingsway Entertainment District. 

Tonight, the city's Planning Committee will be deciding whether or not to OK an Official Plan amendment to allow for the rezoning the property on The Kingsway east of downtown to allow for a casino. On Wednesday, the committee will decide whether to support rezoning part of the same property to allow for the construction of the arena and parking lot.

Sudbury.com will be carrying the livestream of tonight's and Wednesday's meetings. Look for coverage later on this evening from tonight's meeting.

The complete letter from the city's religious leaders is below:

We, the undersigned leaders and representative of the Greater Sudbury area interfaith community, stand united in opposing the relocation and expansion of the Sudbury Casino proposed by Gateway Casino and Entertainment Limited, True North Strong led by citizens in our community and the City of Greater Sudbury.

We represent diverse faith communities with unique perspectives, principles, sacred texts, traditions and teachings that form the basis of our opposition to expanded gambling. We are unified in our position that gambling is contrary to the ethical norms of our traditions because it negatively impacts our communities and the wider public.

We are deeply concerned that the relocation and expansion of the casino to the Kingsway will have a serious and disproportionately negative impact on vulnerable communities in close proximity to the proposed Kingsway location.  

In a 2013 report on the health impacts of expanding casino gambling in Ontario, the Wellesley Institute concludes that people living in poverty are more likely to spend a higher proportion of household income on gambling, and seniors living on fixed incomes and accumulated savings are at a greater risk of becoming problem gamblers.

The proposed relocation of the casino to the Kingsway is within a three-kilometre radius of subsidized housing and less than 10 minutes direct bus from the senior community of Finlandia Village. We are convinced by this and other evidence that this casino’s relocation will contribute to family breakdown, depression, addiction, bankruptcies and crime. 

The harm caused by the development of a full casino so close to these vulnerable communities is antithetical to our mission as faith traditions and will put a serious strain on our capacity to strengthen individuals, families and communities.

Our faith traditions teach us that our governments should maintain order, preserve justice and promote the common good. We believe that our governments must take a stand to promote the values of education, hard work, social justice and the dignity of labour, and reject the illusion of easy money, for both individuals and public coffers.

Our governments should protect the most vulnerable in our society from casinos that exploit human weaknesses and addictions. We therefore call upon our governments to reject gambling expansion and reject this predatory industry as a solution to economic and fiscal problems.

We strongly urge our city council to oppose the relocation of the Gateway Casino to the Kingsway property of True North Strong. We further urge our brothers and sisters in our faith communities to become informed about this issue and voice their opposition to expanded gambling to our elected officials.

The complete list of signatories is as follows:

  • Dr. Christopher J. Duncanson-Hales, Chair Nord500North Committee for the Commemoration of the Reformation
  • Rev. David Nicol Sudbury Interfaith Dialogue
  • Rt. Rev. Anne Germond Anglican Church of Canada - Diocese of Algoma
  • Most Reverend Marcel Damphousse Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie
  • The Rev. Robert Derrenbacker, Ph.D. Church of the Ascension (Anglican)
  • The Reverend Monsignor James Hutton C.S.S. St. Patrick Catholic Parish
  • Dr. Yovita Gwekwerere  St Patrick's Catholic Church
  • Mrs. Catherine Hopper Roman Catholic
  • Diane Pagan St.Patrick’s Catholic Church
  • Rev.  Diane Trollope United Church of Canada
  • Rev. Bea Arnill United Church of Canada
  • Sister Bonnie Chesser, Sister’s of St. Joseph,  St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Sudbury
  • Anthony Chezzi, Adult Faith Facilitator St Patrick Parish
  • Jean Carroll Roman Catholic
  • Jasmine Levert Holy Redeemer Catholic Church
  • Dr. Lucien Pelletier Roman Catholic Parish of  St. Ignatius of Loyola, University of Sudbury
  • Paul J. Allard, DLM United Church Canada
  • Madeleine Paquette Roman Cathlique
  • Shirley Favot St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Parish
  • Aldo Favot St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Parish
  • Amber Baechler Waters Mennonite Church
  • Sheila Murdock parishioner Church of the Ascension, Anglican
  • Marilyn Reimer, mother, grandmother Homechurch
  • Jacques P. Pigeon St Andrew the Apostle  RC Parish
  • Mrs. Jessie MacIsaac St. Patrick's RC Parish
  • Raymond Martel - Lay leader Roman Catholic 
  • Fr. Peter Moher  Holy Redeemer RC Parish
  • Mrs. Anne Gervais RC
  • Dorothy Klein Holy Redeemer RC Church
  • Maureen Tallon Roman Catholic
  • Krista Frederiksen Waters Mennonite Church
  • Sister Sharon Miller Sisters of St. Joseph
  • Marlene Roy Roman Catholic
  • Art Bast, deacon Waters Mennonite Church, Lively, ON
  • Rev. David Shulist, S.J. St. Ignatius Parish at the University of Sudbury
  • Rev. James Ketzler Church of Christ the King - Sudbury
  • Rev. Melody Duncanson-Hales, Mission and Stewardship Animator Manitou Conference, The United Church of Canada
  • Dr. Albert J. Bouclin  St. Jean de Brebeuf Roman Catholic Parish
  • Rev. Marie Bouclin Bishop, Roman Catholic Women Priests of Canada
  • Todd Manuel, Lead Pastor Glad Tidings Penecostal Church
  • Rev. Dr. Spencer Boersma First Baptist Church of Sudbury
  • Rev. Jason Tripp Valleyview Community Church
  • Rev. Aidan Armstrong  Church of the Ascension -Anglican
  • The Rev. Jack Fliestra Lansing Baptist Church
  • The Rev. Mike Gordon Cornerstone Community Church
  • Diane Ikonen Active Christians Engaging Society
  • The Rev. Jeremy Mahood All Nations Church
  • The Rev. Glen Miller Christ Church (Lively)/St. John’s Church (Copper Cliff)
  • Humud Mohamad Imam, Islamic Association of Sudbury
  • Celeste Wright, Waters Mennonite Church
  • Emily Caruso Parnell Board President Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue 
  • The Rev. Dr. Tim Perry, Church of the Epiphany
  • Rene Pomerleau, Azilda Baptist Church
  • Markus Rukkila,mSiion Church/The Finnish Pentecostal Church
  • AbuBacr Sambo, President, Islamic Association of Sudbury
  • The Rev. Chris Walker, New Sudbury Pentecostal Church
  • Steve Yawney, Knights of Columbus, Grand Knight 1387