Vancouver architect Bing Thom opposes B.C. Place casino expansion
Renowned Vancouver architectBing Thom has added his voice to those opposing a mega-casino planned for the land adjacent to B.C. Place.
“Vancouver can’t forever be seen to be playing to its tourism angle,” Thom said. “We’re forgetting that we have a city here, we have citizens that don’t want Vancouver to be a bigger version of Whistler. That’s been some of the argument for why we would have a casino—we’ll get a lot more tourist dollars.”¦We’re becoming a retirement and a tourist city, and that is not what I would like Vancouver to become. And the casino is just playing into that.”
In March 2010, Premier Gordon Campbell announced plans for a $450-million entertainment complex attached to B.C. Place that will comprise a relocated Edgewater Casino and two hotels. An application from B.C. Pavilion Corporation for the rezoning necessary to build the complex goes to a Vancouver council hearing next Thursday evening (February 17), and opposition to the plan has been mounting throughout the arts community.
Thom will speak about the casino development at a public rally and forum scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday (February 9) at the Chinese Cultural Centre (50 East Pender Street). The event is sponsored by the Alliance for Arts and Culture, among other organizations.
The Alliance and the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming have joined forces in pressing council to suspend all gaming expansion in the city until the province abides by, or renegotiates, a 1999 memorandum of agreement with the BCACG stipulating that one third of gaming revenues go to the nonprofit sector.
On February 1, councillors passed an amended version of a motion brought forward by COPE councillor Ellen Woodsworth, resolving, among other things, that the city will call for a review of public gambling in the province of B.C. and that council will support the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming’s call to the auditor general to investigate and review the province’s obligations to charities regarding gambling revenues.
Woodsworth said the advocacy work of the Alliance and the BCACG helped her come to the decision to draft the motion. “I’ve been really, really concerned about the situation in the city, in the cuts to nonprofits and the arts,” she said. “It seems to me that these are critical organizations to the well-being of Vancouver, making Vancouver the number-one city in the world, and they’ve been decimated.”
While the Alliance’s executive director, Amir Ali Alibhai, said the organization is not taking a stand on the casino development in particular, he noted: “We’re certainly working with a coalition of organizations that are opposed to the casino for perhaps different reasons than we might be, but we’ve found common ground, in that they also recognize the inherent rights of charities and not-for-profits, and that is one of the issues that’s important to the broader group as well.”
Thom said he was concerned that the public had not been properly involved in the decision to build the complex. “We’ve never had a discussion whether or not we wanted this casino,” he said. “It just got dropped on us as another gift, and I think that’s been part of the problem. In the past decade in Vancouver we get these gifts given to us by politicians that are not well thought through.”¦I don’t think there are free gifts given.”