Gregor Robertson says no casino expansion under Vision Vancouver council

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      Mayor Gregor Robertson stood across the water from B.C. Place today (October 19) and announced that a Vision Vancouver council would be committed to a moratorium on expanded gambling in the city for the next three years.

      Robertson, who is seeking reelection to another three-year term as mayor, said that a Vision Vancouver council would not consider any proposals for a new “mega casino”.

      “We are committed to a comprehensive moratorium on expanded gambling in Vancouver. We are firmly against the idea of a major casino in our downtown that is a destination casino. And we will be running on that in this campaign,” he told reporters.

      In April, city council unanimously voted to reject a proposal to expand the Edgewater Casino on a site next to B.C. Place. The plan for the casino complex included two hotels, restaurants, and up to 1,500 slot machines.

      Council’s decision followed a flood of opposition from citizens and community groups who expressed concern about gambling addiction, crime, and the project’s potential impact on the surrounding neighbourhood.

      Robertson said today’s commitment from Vision Vancouver builds on city council’s earlier decision to impose a moratorium on expanded gambling.

      “This is going farther than what we said that we would do back in April,” he said. “Today we are saying that there will be no reviews or studies on expanded gambling. That is off the table. The Vision Vancouver team listened to the voices of citizens and community groups and heard overwhelming public opposition to expanded gambling.”

      Robertson was flanked by Vision Vancouver candidates as he delivered his civic party’s first major announcement in the November 19 civic election campaign.

      He said Vision Vancouver’s position on expanded gambling differs sharply from that of his mayoral rival Suzanne Anton and her Non-Partisan Association team.

      “What I’m saying is that a Vision Vancouver government, if we’re elected a majority again, will not consider the expansion of gambling in Vancouver and we will not allow a mega casino in our downtown,” he said.

      “That’s a very clear statement for these next three years in stark contrast to the enthusiastic support of Suzanne Anton for a mega casino and a lot of chaos and confusion among the council candidates about who’s for or who’s against. It’s really not clear what the rest of the NPA candidates think about this. It’s very clear that Ms. Anton is for a mega casino and we’re not going there.”

      A request for comment from councillor Anton was not immediately returned. According to a news report today, Anton has accused Robertson of switching positions on the casino issue.

      "The vote in April, which was unanimous at council and respected the public view at the time, was that an expansion of gambling could come back under certain conditions," she is quoted as saying by the CBC.

      "Gregor is saying [Wednesday] he's not interested in what he voted on in April and he's saying under no conditions."

      Robertson expressed little concern about the potential loss in city revenue from a moratorium on expanded gambling.

      “I think Vancouver’s economy is growing. It is dynamic. It relies on many other industries more heavily than gambling. Gambling is a very small proportion,” he said.

      The mayor said the focus should be on high-growth sectors like clean technology, digital media, and film and TV as well as big industries like tourism, forestry, mining, and construction.

      “Vancouver is renowned worldwide for an economy that’s all about innovation, creativity, diversity, and sustainability. And gambling does not fit into that compelling future.”

      Speaking with reporters today, Robertson was asked about Vision Vancouver’s position on affordable housing and homelessness in this election campaign.

      “Affordable housing continues to be the top priority for Vision Vancouver,” he said. “Going into this next election we’ll obviously continue our commitment to ending street homelessness by 2015. There are no surprises there. We want to see a lot more effort leveraging the city’s tools on affordable housing and low- and middle-income housing across the whole city.”

      Robertson said he believes the city will reach the goal of ending street homelessness by 2015.

      “We’re ahead of schedule in terms of achieving that goal. We’ve seen an 82-percent drop in street homelessness in three years, so we’ve got 18 percent to go, 145 people that were still outside as of last spring. And we want to focus on finishing that goal off over these next three years.”

      Robertson was also asked why Vision Vancouver waited until the last month of the election campaign to make a major announcement.

      “We have been busy running the city,” he said. “We are the majority on council and our duties are significant in wrapping up this term of office. And we will be rolling out our priorities over these coming days.”

      “We have a month to go and that’s pretty typical in all levels of government and politics that the final month is when the campaign really gears up and when parties put forward their platforms and commitments.”

      Asked about the ongoing Occupy Vancouver protest, Robertson said the costs to the city so far have been “modest”.

      “It’s not a large protest and it’s just a matter of monitoring and ensuring that things remain peaceful and clean and that protesters are taking care of that site. Right now things are going smoothly and there’s not a lot of cost accruing to the city.”

      “There were costs obviously associated with the big protest last weekend, a lot of police that were involved, making sure that things didn’t go sideways.”

      But he added: “I don’t have the numbers on the total cost from last Saturday.”

      Mayor Gregor Robertson speaks to reporters.

      Comments

      4 Comments

      James G

      Oct 19, 2011 at 2:19pm

      Wow!
      Someone has been reading the polls and realizes the voters see no difference between his policy and the NPA!
      Too little, too late!

      8 5Rating: +3

      james green

      Oct 19, 2011 at 5:27pm

      Launching his campaign on a gigantic spin shows the stuff this mayor and his party are made of- fluff.
      Please don't misread this. Vision and Gregor are desperate to gain voter support especially from the huge number of city organizations who oppose them. So now we get this pandering and repeat of their supposed anti casino stand. Sad.
      And the homeless spin I hope fools noone. As Gregor once said a home ends homelessness now he says warehousing the homeless is a solution and dealing with the problem.
      The fact is many homeless have mental health issues, addiction issues and putting them in shelters merely gets them out of the public eye and does nothing to solve the problem. The numbers Gregor is using are meaningless as the 1000s on the street have a small mattress to sleep on at night and nothing is being done to deal with their lack of a home/apt or treatment, counselling, training and detox.
      Please don't be fooled by this spin to gain votes.
      Gregor and Vision have not built one unit of housing.
      The provincial government has and now we learn the units built on city land will not even go to the homeless.
      Vision and the NPA brought us the Olympic debt and now Vision brings us a useless MOU that does little to help the homeless.
      The message is clear. We need a leader who can negotiate an iron clad deal to ensure what is built on city land is for the homeless.
      There are alternatives to Gregor and Suzanne. I await their plarforms but I am of the mind that almost anyone could do a better job then these two.
      As to Gregor, once the hero of Cambie, he is a a huge disappointment as we had such high hopes.
      He has failed us all.

      8 5Rating: +3

      Save Vancouver

      Oct 20, 2011 at 10:32am

      Mayor Moonbeam must be worried Sean Bickerton is going to bump one of the invisible Vision councillors (hello Raymond Louie) out of a seat.

      7 6Rating: +1

      James G

      Oct 20, 2011 at 4:51pm

      @ Save Vancouver

      I suspect that you can safely set your sights a lot higher than one incumbent Vision councilor being bumped out of the top ten vote-getters. If the polling is right and you factor in momentum, I suspect the NPA will be in line for at least three and possibly four representatives on council, not including the close race for Mayor.

      I also think you are correct in thinking Bickerton will win.
      You are however wrong about Louie being vulnerable. He has a considerable following of his own and I am fairly certain that he will maintain it and continue to hope for his own mayoral chances in the future.

      As for invisible, the invisible man on this past City Council in my opinion was Tim Stevenson. I suspect both he and Heather Deal will be gone from lack of interest in their candidacies and that Meggs and Reimer will be thrown out on the basis of their records.

      I did vote for the entire Vision slate ... and that still irks me!

      7 5Rating: +2