City council chambers were full for the second night in a row Tuesday (March 8) as a public hearing into a proposed casino in downtown Vancouver resumed.
Opponents carrying Vancouver Not Vegas signs and project proponents wearing yellow “Save Our Job” t-shirts filled seats in the chambers and outside foyer during a quieter meeting than the first session of the hearing held on Monday.
The first three people to address councillors were Edgewater Casino employees, who spoke in favour of the jobs that the casino complex would create.
B.C. Pavilion Corporation chair David Podmore has said the complex would create 5,500 jobs during construction and 1,900 jobs during operation.
Many of the other speakers of the evening raised concerns about the casino plan.
Hilary Reid, a post-secondary educator and researcher on the effects of problem gambling, told council that tripling slot machines at the proposed casino “would be like pouring gas on the fire of addiction problems in Vancouver”.
Casino opponent John Shayler called for a moratorium on the expansion of gambling until “sufficient opportunity is provided for research and debate," and for a public referendum on the casino application during the next civic election.
“There’s been a bandwagon atmosphere around gambling in Canada, where we’ve really moved along, and I don’t think we’ve stopped long enough to have a healthy debate,” he said.
Fern Jeffries, co-chair of the False Creek Residents' Association, also called for an "immediate moratorium" on gambling expansion and an independent review, including a public referendum.
The proposal would see Edgewater Casino relocated to a site adjacent to B.C. Place and expanded to three times its current size, with 1,500 slot machines and 150 gaming tables. The complex would also include two hotels, restaurants and stores.
Council has now heard from about 30 people out of 181 that have signed up to address council on the issue.
The public hearing is scheduled to reconvene on Monday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m.