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My vote is no casino

Enough letters to my office on this topic have come from Leaside residents to satisfy me that it merits attention in my Leaside Life column. So here goes:

I oppose any proposal to invite a casino to locate in Toronto. I will vote against any proposal that comes to city council with the aim of declaring Toronto a willing host for such a development.

Why begrudge Toronto residents a local venue at which to pursue the thrill and joy of losing their money at blackjack or pouring their savings into flashy machines with bright lights and tumbling images of fruit? 

The answer leaps out of the motives of those who propose a Toronto casino. It is not to provide residents with a recreational outlet; it is to take their money away from them.

Which itself wouldn’t be such a bad thing if every casino patron were guaranteed to be a disciplined player with money to burn – if each one was a character out of a James Bond movie with wealth to spare.

But we know that gambling has a dark side. A dark side that is truly and unmistakably insidious.

We also know that its victims are those least equipped to stand up to it or cope with its consequences.

We know that it is more than the players themselves who are victimized. It is their families as well. Ultimately it is their communities and the city in which they live.

It troubles me in particular that, whenever a casino is proposed for Toronto, it is promoted on the basis that it will give our economy a boost. Think of the tourist dollars! Think of the hotel and restaurant trade! Think of the business for our shops!

In a city as large and enterprising as Toronto, God help us all if our economy has slid so low that we have to turn to a casino to help pull us out of our slump. Let’s hope we have not run out of better and more productive ways to pay our bills.

Let casinos flourish in vacationlands at least a day trip away. But let’s keep them out of our town.

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Last month I described the three-phase traffic light that was recently installed at the Laird/ McRae/Wicksteed intersection. There was not enough space to describe the system that triggers the green light to allow left turn traffic to proceed.

As with many traffic lights in use throughout the city, the left turn signal is governed by a loop embedded in the road itself that detects the presence of a car stopped over it at a red light.

The reason why this is worth knowing is that the light is only triggered if there is a car positioned above the loop. If you drive past the loop and stop beyond it, the light may not fire.