Friday, February 05, 2016

Casinos and Concern

TIM MIller/The Intelligencer
Rev. David Mundy stands in front of Belleville's city hall Thursday. Mundy, representing several local churches, has been denied the opportunity to speak in front of council in regards to concerns arising from the approval of a new casino.

I was surprised to read in the local paper recently that a decision was about to made about a casino in Belleville, and that it was essentially a "slam dunk" that it would be coming to town. I did have time to speak to our Bridge St. Governance Board before the decision, then Kente Presbytery. I brought a draft of a statement to presbytery that colleagues helped me refine. The issue was picked up by Bay of Quinte Conference and two statements were forwarded to Belleville City Council.

Then things got interesting. I requested the opportunity to speak to Council, which was denied on the basis that my "application for a deputation" was too late. I did attend the meeting of Council where the casino was enthusiastically endorsed. I was assured that I could apply for a deputation at the February 8th meeting, but I was turned down again. Since no rationale was given, I asked why and was told that since the decision had been made there was no need for me to present. I reminded the City Clerk that my request was that council be proactive in working with local agencies which will be dealing with the resulting problem gambling and addiction -- to no avail.

And then the local paper called to ask about the United Church position, and I told my story. It resulted in a front page article, an editorial, and a radio interview. Council now looks bad, when in fact they are actually hard-working, community-minded individuals. They also underestimated the role of organized religion in a community. Even though we live in a time of waning numbers and aging members, the media still listen when faith groups speak.

Isn't that encouraging?

Read the article

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