As a Vancouver city councillor, Peter Ladner voted in 2004 against allowing slot machines at the Plaza of Nations.
Seven years later, the former politician is again engaged in a fight that involves slots downtown. This time, it’s against the transfer and expansion of Edgewater Casino’s gambling operations from the Plaza of Nations to the B.C. Place area.
Ladner spoke to the Straight by phone before his scheduled appearance at an information meeting held by Vancouver, Not Vegas, an antigambling group, on February 9.
“People don’t come to a casino from abroad to go to slot machines,” Ladner said. “These are for locals, and they have to create a demand to fill them. There’s no arms-length agency that assesses the impact of gambling in our community, even though we’re told that”¦35 percent of the revenue from them [slot machines] comes from people with gambling problems.”
Minutes of the public hearing held by council on January 20 and 21, 2004, indicate that Ladner and then-councillors Fred Bass, Tim Louis, and Anne Roberts voted against allowing a casino at the Plaza of Nations.
Four other members of council in 2004 will vote on the expansion of Edgewater following a public hearing on February 17. They are councillors Raymond Louie, Tim Stevenson, David Cadman, and Ellen Woodsworth.
The January 2004 minutes indicate that Louie, Stevenson, and Cadman voted in favour of the casino project, while Woodsworth was on leave.
Stevenson said his 2004 vote won’t have any bearing on his decision on the present casino proposal. “These are very, very different times, and circumstances,” he told the Straight by phone. “The new one is much, much larger than we voted for. When I voted in favour, there was a promise that that would be the final number of slots.”
Asked about his voting record, Cadman said by phone, “I’m pretty sure I voted against Edgewater on the final vote.” Louie didn’t return a call before deadline.
Las Vegas–based Paragon Development Ltd. bought Edgewater in 2006. Paragon’s director of corporate affairs and communications, Tamara Hicks, referred the Straightto the B.C. Lottery Corporation, with respect to concerns about the social costs of expanding betting activities. “Because we are a service provider to BCLC, when we’re talking about any of those aspects, we actually refer them to BCLC,” Hicks said by phone.