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June 30, 2008
Woodbine Live! brings thousands of jobs and tourists to North Etobicoke
A backgrounder is provided below.

Woodbine Live! is poised to expand on the tourism potential of the Woodbine Racetrack by utilizing a newly approved financial incentives package to create a unique entertainment destination and thousands of local jobs. Woodbine Live! is an ambitious six-million-square-foot mixed-use development that includes live entertainment venues, high-quality restaurants, shopping, office space and residential units. The project is expected to generate more than 9,000 permanent jobs across a variety of economic sectors.

The City of Toronto’s Economic Development Committee will consider a report recommending financial incentives for Woodbine Live! at the July 8 meeting.

“Woodbine Live! is a substantial, vital and exciting project that provides us with an opportunity to do great things both in the local community and for the city as a whole,” said Mayor David Miller. “Not only will it revitalize the Woodbine Race Track, it will bring public spaces and amenities, and important jobs, training and prosperity to the area. It’s an example of the kind of significant transformation we can bring about when we put good City policies to work in partnership with private sector investment.”

In May, Toronto City Council adopted a city-wide Community Improvement Plan to promote and stimulate economic growth and development in Toronto. A category for Transformative Projects was included in the incentive program with Woodbine Live! being cited as such a project. A Transformative Project is defined as a very large and unique project that allows the City to achieve fiscal, economic and social goals to positively transform an area.

Woodbine Live! is a partnership created between Woodbine Entertainment Group, a not-for-profit corporation and The Cordish Company, a privately owned fully integrated commercial services and property development company.

The Agenda for Prosperity notes that Woodbine Live! is a model for economic and social development in Toronto; providing opportunities for permanent employment in a variety of sectors.

“Woodbine Live! will be an important economic anchor for the revitalization of North Etobicoke,” affirmed David Willmot, Chair and CEO of Woodbine Entertainment Group. “Our partner, The Cordish Company, has a reputation for excellence in developing projects that are economic catalysts that stimulate the local economy and promote tourism.”

“Woodbine Live! is very pleased with the support and leadership being demonstrated by the City of Toronto through the financial incentive program, which will make this unique project possible,” stated David Cordish, Chairman of The Cordish Company.

The full report can be found at:

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and livability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Don Wanagas, City of Toronto, Mayor's Office, 416-338-7134,
Sue Corke, Deputy City Manager, City of Toronto, 416-338-7205,
Eva Pyatt, Director of Business Services, City of Toronto, 416-392-7183,
Jane Holmes, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Woodbine Entertainment Group, 416-675-3993 ext. 2205,
Arlene Friedman, The Cordish Company, 410-752-5444,

Backgrounder - Woodbine Live!

Woodbine Live! is a more than $1 billion, 180-acre mixed-use project that will feature a live performance venue, skating canal and rink, restaurants, hotel, bars and nightclubs, retail outlets, offices and residences. The destination will be designed with a pedestrian-friendly street layout.

The proposed project, when completed, will benefit the city and the local area with:
  • more than $1 billion in construction value

  • more than six million square feet of built space

  • preferred consideration for jobs and training to local residents, which includes the three nearby Priority Neighbourhoods (Jane-Finch, Jamestown and Weston-Mt. Dennis)

  • economic and corresponding social development benefits from the 9,400 new jobs and 4,700 person-years of construction employment

  • the City’s finances projected to benefit over the next 20 years from an estimated increase in taxes with a present value of $76.3 million in the first phase

  • several key investments in transit currently under consideration for this area - significant new development on the Woodbine lands will act as a catalyst to improving local transit, helping to create the critical mass necessary and leading to important regional linkages.

City of Toronto staff recommend that the tourism/entertainment component of the project receive a grant equal to a portion of the increased taxes generated by the development over 20 years. It is proposed that development grants be made to Woodbine Live! as follows: 90 per cent in each of the first five years, then declining five per cent from that level each year from year 6 through year 20. The present value of that grant is estimated at $71.2 million over the 20-year period. The City is expected to derive, in present value terms, $76.3 million in additional property tax revenue while foregoing collection of $71.2 million in property taxes.

In order to receive the grants, Woodbine Live! must be substantially constructed within five years from the date the increased grants comes into effect, retail space must be strictly limited, a local hiring and training program must be put in place to give unemployed and underemployed residents in the local area opportunity for employment.

Woodbine Live! is receiving grants as a Transformative Project, meaning that it has sufficient size and scope to transform the growth and potential of the North Etobicoke district. It meets the criteria contained in financial incentives program recently approved by City Council, which includes:
  • $250 million minimum investment[

  • 750,000 square feet of new space that will be constructed and occupied within five years

  • 2,500 new, permanent jobs (in this case 9,400)

  • minimum 10 acres land

  • the ability to link the project to regional transit initiatives

  • the provision of amenities that will be accessible to the public

  • its ability to act as an anchor within its district and stimulate collateral new investment

  • the co-location of activities that will have a regional (GTA) impact, creating new wealth in the community

Woodbine Live! will benefit the local community, including the three nearby priority neighbourhoods: Jane-Finch; Jamestown; Weston-Mount Dennis. The three adjacent priority neighbourhoods are expected to enjoy economic and social benefits from the 9,400 jobs and 4,700 person-years of construction employment. Woodbine Live! has undertaken to give local residents preferred consideration for these jobs. A local hiring program will be undertaken by Woodbine Live! with respect to hiring for Phase I and a local training plan will be created to improve the ability of local residents to qualify for jobs.

Woodbine Live! is specifically referenced in the Agenda for Prosperity, noting that “a local employment strategy will be developed by the Woodbine Live! task force to ensure that residents of Rexdale will be better prepared for, and have greater access to local employment opportunities.” The Agenda for Prosperity also proposes Woodbine Live! as a model for community workforce development and recommends that a city-wide incentives package be expedited that provides time-limited cost reductions that encourages upgrading to existing industrial and commercial land and operations. Renewal and reinvestment in existing tourism attractions that support Toronto’s unique identity is also a priority of the Agenda for Prosperity.

It is estimated that the annual visitors to Woodbine Live! will increase from six million to 15 million.

Media contacts:
Don Wanagas, City of Toronto, Mayor’s Office, 416-338-7134,
Sue Corke, Deputy City Manager, City of Toronto, 416-338-7205,
Jane Holmes, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Woodbine Entertainment Group, 416-675-3993 ext. 2205,
Arlene Friedman, The Cordish Company, 410-752-5444,



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