B.C. Place casino proposal referred to public hearing

Vancouver city council has voted to send a proposal to build what could be the largest casino complex in Western Canada to a public hearing next month.

Council opted to send the casino expansion proposal from the B.C. Pavilion Corporation to a February 17 public hearing. In the meantime, city staff will conduct an additional public meeting on the issue.

If approved, the project would see Edgewater Casino moved from its current location at the Plaza of Nations to a rezoned site near B.C. Place. The expanded site would include two hotels and up to 1,500 slot machines and 150 gaming tables. The casino is currently permitted up to 600 slot machines and 150 gaming tables.

Councillors expressed some concerns about the casino expansion proposal Tuesday, including concerns about the potential for increased problem gambling.

Vancouver’s general manager of community services, Dave McLellan, told city council that an estimated 4.6 percent of the adult population in B.C. suffers from problem gambling, which he said translates to about 21,000 residents. One percent of the adult population suffer from pathological gambling, he said.

Vision Vancouver councillor Tim Stevenson asked whether the number of problem gamblers will spike if a major casino is built in a visible downtown location.

City manager Penny Ballem said the casino is designed to be a “destination casino” that is expected to attract a significant number of international visitors, who she said will hopefully “take their problems home with them when they leave.”

Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs asked questions about the standards of enforcement to prevent money laundering and other potential crime at casinos.

“I would like to see whatever information you can provide about processes the city could ask the province to undertake that would restore confidence that we have the best practices,” he told city staff.

CBC News recently reported an alleged spike in suspicious cash transactions at two casinos in the Lower Mainland.

COPE councillor Ellen Woodsworth introduced a motion Tuesday calling for a review of public gambling in order to restore confidence in the lottery system and to review "the provincial government's obligations to charities for gaming revenues."

Woodsworth told the Straight that non-profit and arts groups are getting about 10 percent of provincial gaming revenues, despite a memorandum of understanding signed in the 1990s designating one third of revenues to these groups.

Three other city planning reports related to the casino expansion were also referred to next month's public inquiry, including a proposal by Concord Pacific to build four residential towers in the northeast False Creek area.

If approved, the casino expansion would generate an estimated $17 million in revenue to the city annually, up from a current $7 million in annual revenues.

Comments

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5 Comments

Ken Lawson

Jan 18, 2011 at 8:52pm

I want Graydon , Coleman and Morrison there to be questioned.

NDB

Jan 19, 2011 at 8:20am

all this is just a formality. I bet my heart and sole that no matter what the public says a casino will be built there.

In fact the deal has already been signed in ink.

Al

Jan 19, 2011 at 10:16am

Don't do it. The only place for a Destination Casino is in Las Vegas.

City manager Penny Ballem said the casino is designed to be a “destination casino” that is expected to attract a significant number of international visitors, who she said will hopefully “take their problems home with them when they leave.” Wow she actually said that? I hope that is a vague hint of non support coming from staff.

This Campbell-Liberal-Corporate-Money Laundering scheme has no place in Vancouver.

People should try to imagine/visualize what this monstrosity will do to beautiful False Creek. Never mind the moral issues for a moment.

Think about the beauty of False Creek and the splendid job the city has done to beautify both sides of the Creek. Then someone comes along and wants to put this permanent tacky and ugly circus/casino with all its attendant problems in the midst of a residential neighbourhood for the promise of tax dollars.

This is not the kind of greening of Vancouver I envisioned from this council. Do the right thing council and reject it. This is an election year isnt it? Dont get bullied by this lame duck government.

Norman Smith

Jan 30, 2011 at 7:47am

THere is an easy way to ensure that the casino attracts foreigners, not locals: require a foreign passport to play there, as they do in Monaco and Baden.

james s

Feb 4, 2011 at 7:37am

good ,build it .........vancouver needs to be more of a world class city as we are nolonger a small town........my only hope is that they have showgirls like in vegas ........why should vancouver be a dull sh@% hole anylonger ........we dont even have a newyears bash.