Vancouver city council chambers were packed Monday (March 7) evening as a public hearing on a proposal to build the largest casino complex in Western Canada began.
A large crowd composed of employees from Edgewater Casino and opponents of the casino proposal filled the steps of city hall in advance of the hearing, as the Vancouver, Not Vegas group held a rally in opposition of the mega-casino plan.
Among the crowd was Vancouver resident Isabel Minty. She said she's concerned about the potential for crime at the proposed complex.
“Vancouver citizens are going to lose big time if we go here, and I do think a lot of folks are becoming aware that it’s lose-lose for ordinary citizens,” she said. “We don’t need this casino.”
David Podmore, the chair of the B.C. Pavilion Corporation, and Michael Graydon, the president of the B.C. Lottery Corporation, were the first speakers to address council.
Podmore said the relocated casino would create approximately 5,500 jobs during construction and 1,900 once completed. Graydon spoke to some of the public concerns that have been raised about the proposal, including the potential for problem gambling, noting that the "vast majority" of British Columbians gamble responsibly.
The proposal would see Edgewater Casino relocated to a site adjacent to B.C. Place and expanded to three times its current size. The complex would include two hotels, restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues. The casino floor would cover 114,000 square feet and have 1,500 slots and 150 gambling tables.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said there are currently 163 speakers on the list to address council on the issue. A second meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8 at 7 p.m.