On Thursday, April 26 2018

After over ten years of advocacy by Rexdale residents, organizations, and allies across the City, Toronto City Council has approved a significant agreement spelling out enforceable benefits for the community from the expanded casino at Woodbine.

This is an unprecedented win for the community! We have raised the floor for Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) in Canada.

We thank City Staff who worked hard to deliver on the promise of a CBA despite the constraints put on them by the 21 conditions approved by City Council in 2015. In the end, many City councilors and the Mayor showed incredible leadership in raising the floor so the community can benefit from:

  • Investment of $5 million into the development of a child care centre to support the workers and community in accessing the new jobs.
  • Community and labour involvement in the oversight and monitoring of the success of those projects, along with more frequent and detailed public reporting to ensure that the targets are met.
  • Hard targets requiring that 40% of new hires come from the local community and equity-seeking groups from across the City, that 50% of the new jobs created will be full time, and that 10% of the apprentices and tradespeople working on construction come from local and diverse communities.
  • Requirements for a minimum 10% of annual operational procurement will be through local suppliers or diverse suppliers, in order to support local businesses.
Without all your support through sending letters and hundreds of petitions to City Council and the sheer persistence and organizing from key community leaders and allies, this win would not have not been possible. We thank Unite Here Local 75 and Community Organizing for Responsible Development for reaching out to the TCBN to carry the torch and to TCBN's Board and membership for accepting and supporting the Rexdale Rising campaign.
On the ground we would like to thank ACORN, the Rexdale Hub and the dedicated staff of the TCBN, particularly Kumsa Baker, our Rexdale Rising Campaign Manager and his team of incredible local community and union leaders who did the heavy lifting. Too many to name, but we will be organizing a community event soon to celebrate our win and discuss next steps of the implementation phase. Stay tuned.
Please also join us in thanking the leadership of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, Atkinson Foundation and the United Way Toronto and York Region for their expertise and credibility uplifting the community’s voice in these high stakes negotiations.

A timeline - how the community won a CBA in 10 steps after more than 10 years:

  1. November 2006: Developers held first public meeting to introduce Woodbine Live, an entertainment/retail/residential development which they claimed would create thousands of jobs. To ensure real outcomes for residents, a community-labour coalition led by UNITE Here Local 75 and Community Organizing for Responsible Development (CORD) put the developers on notice as to their intentions for a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).
  2. July 15 and 16, 2007: City Council gives the approval for WoodbineLive! but the development project never gets off the ground.
  3. July 7, 2015: City Council approved expansion of gaming at Woodbine Casino providing the Operator satisfies 21 conditions, which includes community benefits.
  4. August 8, 2017: the Ontario Lottery and Gaming selected Ontario Gaming GTA LP as the Operator for the Woodbine Casino.
  5. September 23, 2017: TCBN’s membership agreed to merge with CORD and lead the community’s advocacy for a CBA on the Woodbine Casino.
  6. October 18, 2017: Great Canadian Gaming (GCG) cancelled meeting TCBN initiated to discuss the community’s proposal for a comprehensive Community Benefits Agreement. TCBN reached out to City staff to solicit their support to advance the community’s agenda with GCG.
  7. March 21 2018: City Staff held community consultation in Rexdale. With TCBN’s support, approximately 150 people attended.
  8. April 4, 2018: TCBN and resident leaders deputed on planning issues at Etobicoke York Community Council.
  9. April 17, 2018: TCBN, resident leaders and allies deputed on community benefits conditions at Executive Committee.
  10. April 25-26, 2018: City Council debates Community Benefits Agreement conditions proposed by staff and additional motions put forward by councilors on behalf of the community