Woodbine Racetrack Development | 13.5m | 3s | Woodbine Ent | WZMH

Prometheus The Supremo

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a strange reality, bizarro toronto
the whole point of blue 22 was the casino expansion at woodbine. don't be fooled. regardless if an air rail link was dreamed up before the casino expansion proposal, it's the casino that is the driving force now and for thr past while.
 

yyzer

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a groundbreaking "community benefits" deal with the developer that would guarantee locals get decent-paying union jobs, employment training, affordable housing, better public transit, more child care and community space.

This seems like an awful lot to request, when the project hasn't even been approved yet?

/just sayin...
 

unimaginative2

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Woodbine Live

Perhaps this project should have an official thread.

Racing to corral Woodbine jobs

Jun 26, 2007 04:30 AM
Laurie Monsebraaten
staff reporter

Woodbine Racetrack and its Baltimore-based development partner have agreed to make local hiring a cornerstone of their $350 million plan to build a major entertainment, retail and residential community in the city's troubled northwest end.

The proposal – to be debated at Etobicoke community council today – will create about 5,000 construction jobs and permanent employment for up to 10,000 in the project's new hotel, theatre and retail shops. Area residents hope at least 4,500 of those jobs will be earmarked for them.

If Toronto councillors give it the green light next month, it will mark the first time the city has tied a local employment initiative to a major private-sector development plan.

"In terms of scale, this is definitely new," said Kyle Benham, the city's director of business retention and development.

Rexdale resident Nuredin Bulle, who came here from Ethiopia 20 years ago, sees the project as an opportunity for his children, ages 9 and 12. Some day they may work at Woodbine to help pay for university or begin careers in construction, hospitality or retail, he said.

"It's all about giving our young people hope," he said of a community plagued by unemployment and crime. "If young people know 30 per cent of those jobs are for them, they'll make the effort to get the training."

Project partners are the Woodbine Entertainment Group (once known as the Ontario Jockey Club) and real estate development giant The Cordish Company.

Development lawyer Stephen Diamond says his clients see the social and economic benefits of helping residents get the training to compete for good jobs.

"It is something we are excited about and are embracing," he said in an interview, saying it's in the developers' interest to foster "a healthy community that is safe and prosperous."

Those spearheading the drive for local jobs begun last winter say they are thrilled the developer and the city have endorsed the concept.

Now they want a firm target of 30 per cent local hiring, money for training, and meaningful community input.

"The devil is always in the details," said community coalition spokesperson Zeleda Davis, 60, an airport hotel worker. "It's good to say you want a strategy. But we want some assurances that it will be carried out."

About 15 per cent of Woodbine's current workforce of 2,700 lives in the area, according to the company. With provisions for training, that means 30 per cent is a realistic target, Davis said.

Benham, at city hall, said such specific details won't likely be hammered out until sometime next fall.




Stakes race for `new look' Woodbine enters the home stretch

July 2005: Woodbine Racetrack announces $350 million entertainment/retail/residential development with 10,000 permanent jobs.

Nov. 2006: Community open house at Woodbine.

Jan.- Apr. 2007: Local groups study how communities in Ireland and U.S. mobilized to secure local hiring agreements and other benefits from developers.

May 2: 500 residents call for developer to guarantee local hiring, job training, affordable housing, better transit, child care and community space.

May 25: Community leaders meet Woodbine and city officials, win support for local hiring. Other benefits put on hold for residential phase.

June 20: City report backs developing local jobs strategy with developer.

What's Next

Today: Etobicoke community council vote.

July 16: City Council vote.

December: Local hiring plan to spell out job goals, training, and community participation.
Community push for hiring guarantees wins favour with project partners


I question the sense of this project. If we're going to allow what is basically a casino to be built in the city, it should be located somewhere much closer to the core and to transit. It should also have a much more specific mandate of funding city projects.
 

scarberiankhatru

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We can't move the racetrack downtown so the location is fine. If the Georgetown GO line gets all day both way service, that'll help (with a people mover extension, or some other transit line (that could continue up to Humber and along Finch)).
 

Hipster Duck

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The argument that building a casino will improve the livelihood of people from the surrounding lower income neighbourhood seems kind of specious to me.
 

ShonTron

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Agreed. Has anyone seen Niagara Falls, ON lately, and when I say that, ventured a few blocks from Clifton Hill or Fallsview Drive (formerly Buchanan St)?

The slots are already there, and it is probably as good a place as any for an expanded casino, but I also don't like how it would help the community, unless they were going to improve the transit connections or something.
 

alklay

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I am not sure that the casino is even being expanded. There certainly is no mention of an expansion in either the plans or the city documents.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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From the Globe:

REDEVELOPMENT: ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX
Woodbine getting $750-million neighbour
JEFF GRAY

July 18, 2007

Toronto City Council approved last night what may be the city's biggest single development application since amalgamation, a massive $750-million entertainment complex next to the Woodbine Racetrack that proponents say will be an economic boon to a depressed community.

The developers, Woodbine Entertainment Group and Baltimore-based Cordish Co., say the 330,000-square-foot development featuring shops, restaurants, a skating rink, a hotel, a theatre and other attractions, will create 10,000 jobs.

"It's going to turn Rexdale into Rosedale," said Councillor Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North, the ward that includes the site). The "mixed use" development, which will eventually include condos, would be built in phases over the next few years.

Lawyer Steve Diamond, who represents the developers, said the Cordish has a long history in urban renewal and has won awards for the design of its developments. "They are an established player ... [with] an excellent reputation for high-quality work," Mr. Diamond said, adding that the Woodbine project would be an attractive regional tourism centre, just 1½ kilometres from Pearson International Airport.

In addition to the jobs and economic benefits, he said, the project's amenities - including a hockey rink and canals that would freeze for skating in winter - would be open to the public.

But the project, called Woodbine Live!, is not without controversy. With pressure by a coalition of labour activists, local groups and left-leaning city councillors, the developers have agreed to work to ensure a share of the jobs goes to residents near the site at Highway 27 and Rexdale Boulevard in Etobicoke.

While the development proposal includes a clause about hiring locally, Councillor Howard Moscoe (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence), a left-leaning ally of Mayor David Miller, said he had secured an extra agreement that would go further to ensure that a chunk of the jobs goes to people in the neighbourhood.

He wouldn't disclose the details yesterday, but said the deal is similar to those he had brokered with other developments that helped ensure the jobs were advertised to local residents first.

"It's a win-win-win-win," Mr. Moscoe said of the development.

John Cartwright, president of the Toronto and York Region District Labour Council, said the pressure on Woodbine was necessary to ensure the local community benefited from development.

"They've been basically saying to Woodbine, if you're going to have this huge expansion and tell everybody, 'Oh this is a great economic development thing,' you're creating all these jobs, then they'd better be paying living wages and they'd better be jobs that are offered to local people," Mr. Cartwright said.

He acknowledged that members of UNITE HERE, the hotel workers' union, were also interested in organizing the employees at the developers' hotel, or ensuring they are guaranteed the right to unionize if they choose. (The union already represents the racetrack's food-service workers.)

Mr. Cartwright said the deal to hire locally was a "significant victory" for the community, an ethnically diverse and economically depressed area.

Left-leaning Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul's) said he was satisfied at the commitments made by the developers to hire locally and pay fair wages, and allow unions to organize.

"There will be union organizing going on. Of course there will be," Mr. Mihevc said. "We don't want McJobs."

AoD
 

GregWTravels

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Actually, an extended people mover to a Woodbine GO stop would be just fine.

Given the technology chosen for the people-mover - the wire drive thing - is it realistic to assume the people mover could be extended that far? I have assumed (and could be wrong) that the technology means that only one train in any direction can be served. If you have a 5km track, that would mean that it would be a long wait for a people-mover train.

Greg
 

ShonTron

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"It's going to turn Rexdale into Rosedale," said Councillor Rob Ford.

Easily the quote of the year.

Oh he's funny!
...but let's hope he's right. Rosedalers would never elect him.

Easily the runner-up to the quote of the year.

All in all, good news - the community gets something, the city gets something, the private sector is allowed to profit. Unlike many development proposals these days.
 

unimaginative2

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I was surprised by that too. Maybe square metres? 350,000 square feet is about one mid-size condo tower. I also don't know where the $750 million came from. Every other source seems to say $350 million.
 

scarberiankhatru

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Based on this rendering, 300,000 sq.ft can't be right if the hotel and condos are included:
rendering-aerial.jpg
 

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