Hard Rock Casinos Ottawa has the green light for a 67 per cent increase in the number of gaming tables at the Rideau Carleton Raceway from 21 to 35.
The Committee of Adjustment —an appointed body that deals with minor applications — made the decision Wednesday morning after a hearing where both representatives from the casino and residents were able to speak.
The application to the committee has drawn sharp criticism from members of council, who felt Hard Rock was trying to get the increase approved without going before elected committees.
“It feels like an exercise in bad faith, to me,” said Coun. Diane Deans, who chairs the community and protective services committee.
Deans was one of six councillors who signed a letter to Trevor Armstrong, vice president of operations with Hard Rock, asking them to abandon their application to the committee of adjustment.
“Your attempt to increase your gaming operation in the meantime through a minor variance diminishes the public’s trust,” read the letter.
Representatives for Hard Rock argued that the increase was negligible, and wouldn’t be noticed. “There’s no question in my mind that the variance before you this morning maintains the general intent of the bylaw,” said Murray Chow.
There were several speakers from the community who were opposed to the application. “It seems, to us, that the developer is trying to circumvent the planning process by incrementally increasing the number of tables,” said Pamela Norris, speaking on behalf of the Emerald Woods Residents’ Association.
Another, however, spoke in favour of it. “The economic opportunities in the south end are going to explode. There’s no other way to put it,” said Harvey Bloom, with the Gloucester Agricultural Society. “The street is a little bit of a diamond in the rough.”
Though residents could technically appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, Deans considered that unlikely. “That would be David and Goliath,” she said. “They will probably take the defeat and leave it at that.”
This story originally appeared in Metro News.