After more than a year of debate, Toronto’s still-hypothetical casino will soon face a crucial test. A long-awaited city staff report is in (though, unusually, it’s missing a firm yay-or-nay recommendation), and council could vote as early as next month to either kill the idea forever or invite bids from casino developers. For influential Torontonians hoping to sway the decision, now’s the last chance to come out for or against a downtown gambling den—which explains why so many have spoken up in recent days. Below, a guide to how the pro-casino and anti-casino teams stack up.
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City councillors could vote on whether to allow a downtown casino as soon as next month, and they, along with the rest of Toronto, remain bitterly divided over whether it would be a money-generating pleasure palace or a traffic-generating crime magnet. In the midst of the ongoing debate, high-profile companies like MGM and Wynn have released flashy plans in hopes that big ideas and pretty renderings will help sway the naysayers. Below, we break down each company’s promises, from free CNE passes to Celine Dion concerts.
In this edition of The Weekender: a legendary South African musical group, a double bill from hot young playwright Hannah Moscovitch and three more things to do in Toronto.
ART Read the rest of this entry »
The Artist Project
Over 250 painters, sculptors, photographers and multimedia artists are participating in this year’s edition of the annual juried art fair, which begins tonight with an opening night party. In addition to plenty of opportunites to score contemporary works from emerging artists, there are also talks on topics like art as an investment and docent-led tours of the show floor. $15–25. February 21–24. Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, 195 Princes’ Blvd., theartistprojecttoronto.com
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1. ROYAL AGRICULTURAL WINTER FAIR
Canada’s biggest horse and agriculture show celebrates 90 years of bringing the country to the city. The main draws are the show jumping competitions—the Hickstead FEI World Cup and Governor General’s Cup in particular—but there’s also the usual motley mix of animal and vegetable competitions, chef challenges with the likes of Padma Lakshmi and, yes, a butter sculpting competition. November 2 to 11. $18. Exhibition Place, 100 Princes’ Blvd., 416-263-3400, royalfair.org.
2. CRYSTAL CASTLES
Toronto synth-punk duo Alice Glass and Ethan Kath cap off a long spell on the road with a return to their hometown (before heading out to the U.K. in a few weeks). Expect plenty of onstage antics; a typical concert might include a brawl involving at least one member of the band, and there’s always copious stage diving. The performance was originally scheduled for Nov. 4, so any tickets purchased for that date will be honoured. Nov. 3. $41. Kool Haus, 132 Queens Quay E., 416-869-0045, crystalcastles.com.
First there was the surprise announcement that the action-thriller Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, would open TIFF this year (some had been gunning for Midnight’s Children to have that honour). And now TIFF organizers have revealed that the celeb-heavy bash following the screening will be in the restaurants and outdoor spaces at Maple Leaf Square, rather than at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex at Exhibition Place, where it has been held since 2001. The downtown location will undoubtedly make it easier for many of the 3,000 guests (including Gordon-Levitt and Willis) to get to the party, but we can’t help but giggle at the thought of be-gowned stars hanging out at Real Sports Bar and Grill. (Also, what if it rains?) [Toronto Star]
Toronto newspapers can’t help but quote councillor Adam Vaughan with startling regularity, and a Toronto Star article last weekend looked at why. The (somewhat obvious) answer? He’s a bon mot machine, with a sharp wit and a sharper tongue. This takes work: Vaughan, a former CityTV reporter, reads books of famous quotes and sometimes works on a one-liner all day before saying it aloud to reporters. Naturally, they take the bait, resulting in plenty of media attention for the would-be 2014 mayoral candidate. (Though we’re sure the fact that Vaughan frequently targets the eminently newsworthy Rob Ford doesn’t hurt, either.) Given the extent to which Vaughan prides himself on his wit, we decided to rate some of his most memorable quips.
The Toronto Star recently took a close look at the competition for the GTA casino, squeezing details out of insiders at MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and some of the other mega-companies hoping to secure the contract. And the competition is fierce—one source called a development gambling’s “biggest opportunity in the world right now,” while another, working for one of the big players, estimates his client will have shelled out $2 million by the end of the bidding process (apparently, lobbyists, polls and focus groups are expensive). Interestingly, MGM has reportedly suggested it would help pay for a long-overdue rebuild of Ontario Place if given the go-ahead to build a casino across the bridge at Exhibition Place, and Caesars has expressed interest in a similar plan. Still, before the cash-strapped province can avail itself of that cash, it has to convince Toronto city council of a couple of things: a) that a casino in the city is a good idea; and b) that it should go on the waterfront. And lately, the province has seemed less willing to insist upon either of those points. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »
Monday, July 23
- Cooking for Cooks: Jamie Kennedy pays tribute to those who do service, with a three-course dinner for industry folk (although non-industry types can come too). Gilead Cafe, 4 Gilead Pl., 647-288-0680. Find out more »
- 86’D With Ivy Knight: Tonight, the top 5 contenders for Toronto’s hottest chef each prepare complimentary canapés. Taste, vote, and at the end the winner will be announced. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
- Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: Piola’s weekly aperitivo italiano, with cocktail and beer specials and complimentary snacks. 1165 Queen St. W., 416-477-4652. Find out more »
- Evil Twin/Bellwoods Brewery Collaboration: The new Ossington craft brewery is collaborating with Brooklyn’s Evil Twin with food by Daniel Burns. Bellwoods Brewery, 124 Ossington Ave. Find out more »
1. AZIZ ANSARI
Funny dude Aziz Ansari, who’s probably best known for roles in Funny People and I Love You, Man, plus his turn as Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation, started his career in standup. Despite a jam-packed sched with minimal heckling, Ansari still gets in a little stand-up when he can—hence his Buried Alive tour, which lands in T.O. this weekend. July 6. $41–$49. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., 1-855-985-5000, ticketmaster.ca.
You were a popular politician, brought the Blue Jays to town, resuscitated the National Post and cleaned up the OLG. Does the uproar over your latest crusade—bringing a casino to town—jeopardize your legacy?
Anyone familiar with my background knows I’d never do anything to injure Toronto’s image. This won’t be a few slot machines in a broken-down barn; it’ll be a world-class entertainment centre and a tourist magnet.
What will it look like?
I’m picturing something like the Venetian or the MGM Grand in Vegas—a ground-floor casino with a glamorous hotel and unbelievable shopping. I could also see a permanent Cirque du Soleil show.
Why do we need a casino?
If we don’t build one, our tourists will go to Boston, Cleveland and Baltimore, which are all building world-class casinos.
You live near the Bridle Path. Would you want a casino in your neighbourhood? Read the rest of this entry »
I make no apologies for having a very nice house. I grew up in poverty and earned my way. But there’s nowhere to put a casino on the Bridle Path.
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MGM and Caesars Entertainment may already be scoping out Toronto as a potential site for a massive resort casino (and have some, er, very nice brochures to help make their case), but yesterday’s executive committee meeting at city council suggests there won’t be any concrete decisions for a while. After listening to deputations from recovering gambling addicts, big-time investors, the Canadian Gaming Association and more, the committee voted to have city staff study the idea and city manager Joe Pennachetti report back in October. That comprehensive report should examine whether or not to have a referendum on the question, the possible effects on job and crime rates, the economic costs and benefits to the city, and—everyone’s favourite topic of speculation—where to put the thing if Toronto agrees to it. Read the rest of this entry »
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Since council freaked out over the rising price tag of the 2015 Pan Am Games—because mega sporting events usually come in under budget, right?—organizers are at least trying to keep costs down. Today, they unveiled a new venue plan, which features a clustering strategy to cut down on security costs and transit problems (though the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee suggested a different motivation). The revised plan will see more sporty happenings in 11 municipalities and three universities, compared with the original 2009 bid, which spread the events over 16 municipalities and 40 venues. Read the rest of this entry »
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—Josh Colle, arguing that the bylaw prohibiting firearms on city-owned property doesn’t do much for residents in his riding who have to deal with recurring shootings. Gord Perks then told Colle to “f— off” (though he later withdrew that verbal offering and apologized). Council was supposed to be deciding whether to allow the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show back into its old spot at Exhibition Place, but the meeting veered off into a tense debate over whether a bunch of rifle-toting dudes in hunting fatigues have much of an impact on city violence (from Doug Ford: “I got an idea, why don’t we lock up all the knives in the city. Everyone go home and register all your knives”). Council eventually decided no, they don’t, and voted 22-10 to exempt the show from the law. Still, there was one anti-gun victory—earlier in the day, councillors voted 39-5 to pressure the province into asking the feds to keep the data from the long-gun registry. So perhaps those downtown white people can take comfort in that. [National Post]
The Weekender: TIFF Kids International Film Festival, The Tales of Hoffmann and six other items on our to-do list
1. TIFF KIDS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
This film fest is for the city’s smallest movie lovers. Aimed at kids three and up, TIFF Kids (formerly Sprockets) features tot-appropriate features and shorts from around the world, both live action and animated. This weekend, our picks include Chimpanzee, Disney’s latest nature documentary; Alfie, the Little Werewolf, a Dutch feature about accepting who you really are, featuring a little boy who turns seven and suddenly starts sprouting hair, claws and sharp, sharp teeth; and McB, a doc about a group of elementary school children in New York who stage a production of Macbeth. Post-screening, kids take part in a Shakespeare-themed workshop. To April 22. $8.50–$12. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net.
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The COC kicks off its spring season with this Jacques Offenbach opera. The titular character, played by American tenor Russell Thomas, is a poet and storyteller in love with Stella, an opera singer. At a local tavern with his friend Nicklausse (actually his Muse in disguise) and his rival Lindorf, Hoffmann is convinced to sing a song to the eagerly listening revelers (he’s quite drunk at this point). The ensuing performance relates his pursuit of three prior great loves—and how they were thwarted by a cast of demonic villains, all played by bass-baritone John Relyea. We’re most excited about the famed Barcarolle duet from act two. To May 14. $12–$318. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-363-8231, www.coc.ca.
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