Cavan Monaghan Township receives update on Kawartha Downs redevelopment

Kawartha Downs management will soon be looking for support from Cavan Monaghan Township council for the renewal of its Shorelines Slots licence, which is set to expire in 2024.

“The success of Kawartha Downs and its facility and the (proposed) subdivision is hinged upon mainly a licensed casino and events that will keep Kawartha Downs alive,” Daniel D’Ercole, Kawartha Downs general manager, said at a recent township council meeting, where he provided an update on the company’s revitalization plans.

Kawartha Downs cannot separate its casino and harness racing from a future development of a hotel, larger entertainment facilities and 588 new homes north of the facility, noted D’Ercole.

“We will need council's full support to ensure that this licence gets renewed,” he said.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is responsible for regulating Ontario’s casinos.

To date, D’Ercole said, Romspen Investment Corp, which owns the Fraserville entertainment hub, has made an investment of roughly $4.4 million toward the restoration and redevelopment of Kawartha Downs as a gaming facility.

During its 2023 events, 25,000 people attended, creating “countless jobs” for the township, he said.

The company began a three-to-five year revitalization plan in 2022. Phase 1 has already been completed with the restoration of the site’s main building, construction of a demolition derby pit and outdoor concert area, and a parking lot expansion.

“We have taken the facility very far but, yes, we are looking to bring in entertainment partners to kind of help us get to that next stage,” said D’Ercole.

Phase 2 is now in progress. The second phase involves the renovation and restoration of the second floor of the main building and development of a 200-room hotel/multi-use convention centre.

The residential subdivision is awaiting approval of an environmental assessment — currently in the early stages — but is expected to be completed in June of next year.

A final report will not be available until at least two public meetings have been held, according to Christian Chan, a planning consultant retained by Romspen.

Cavan Monaghan Township Mayor Matthew Graham noted there has been a high level of interest in the community and some “small town gossip/coffee shop talk” around the development plans.

Graham said council is looking for Kawartha Downs to be as transparent as possible and for council to be informed throughout the redevelopment.

Coun. Lance Nachoff suggested a community liaison person from Kawartha Downs reach out to nearby residents so they can have a “telephone and email dialogue” and discuss concerns directly with the company prior to public consultations.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner