Think of common destinations in Toronto, what areas or spots pop into mind? It could be many things, but would one be Woodbine Racetrack?
Woodbine Racetrack has been operating in Rexdale since 1956, as noted by the Etobicoke Historical Society. Back in April of this year, Woodbine Entertainment Group announced on their website that Toronto city council had voted to approve an expansion of the undeveloped land surrounding the racetrack. The landscape along the Rexdale and Highway 27 corridor is already filled with construction teams, large trucks and machinery.
The corporate communications manager of Woodbine Entertainment Group, Gordon Thain said that, “expansion at Woodbine is nothing new.”
In 2007, Woodbine Entertainment Group attempted its own redevelopment plan, but faced opposition from Toronto city council that only became stronger when the 2008 recession hit. That made it even harder to raise the investments needed, and eventually the plan was abandoned according to Thain.
If everything goes according to plan this time, the development would transform the racetrack and the community around it into, “the future urban heart of northwestern Toronto,” said Thain.
Thain explained the plan to develop the northeast corner of the racetrack property, which will include a new casino, a performance venue for live shows and a public square. He said this work will take about 10 years to complete.
Once completed, Thain said Woodbine expects the new venues to at least double the roughly six million visitors the property had last year.
The plan is intriguing, but there are concerns expressed by some Humber College students that commuters might have to deal with increased traffic from the construction.
Humber student Jake Mackenzie said, “[Highway] 27 already gets packed at rush hour. I can’t imagine it getting better with more construction trucks on the road.”
Some members of the community’s hospitality sector generally see this as a positive change. The owner of Woodbine Hotel and Suites, Gurdeep Dass, told GH360 that he supports the plan because of the number of new customers it could draw to the area and to his business.
Jordan Hutchinson, a general arts and science student at Humber had mixed views.
“I know that people will travel to the casino, and there will be a lot of job opportunities. I don’t think there will be a lot of extra pollution, but they are destroying a lot of green space that was there for a long time and at least nice to look at.”
Overall Jordan thought that the development could help the lower income families living in the area.