UPDATE: Councillor Woodsworth’s motion to Vancouver City Council was passed! The motion essentially calls for a postponement of gaming expansion in Vancouver until there’s been proper inquiry into gambling irregularities and cuts to charities, all of which have an impact on the City of Vancouver. The motion was finally presented to City Council at about 11 pm on Tuesday, January 18 in the Vancouver City Council chambers. After members of our coalition and others spoke in support of the motion, Coun. Woodsworth’s motion passed nearly unanimously.
**Please note that Woodsworth’s motion was amended slightly before being passed; the finalized motion is below.**
Note: When this motion was first introduced into Council in mid-January, many councillors did speak out against gambling or asked pointed questions. Some felt this marks a genuine change of heart in Vision and beyond; others claim it was merely political theatre on the part of Council, aimed at PavCo and Paragon Gaming as a way of extracting more concessions from them. Time will tell but two things are clear; strong public citizen opposition will be necessary if we are going to defeat this casino expansion; and that with that strong opposition, we can defeat this casino expansion.
Subject: Casino development
For Council Meeting of January 18, 2011
MOVER: Councillor Ellen Woodsworth
SECONDER: Councillor David Cadman
1. The proposed expansion of Edgewater Casino on the North East Shore of False Creek in Downtown Vancouver would be the largest casino in British Columbia;
2. Recent news has revealed a concerning link between casinos and organized crime and money laundering;
Citizens across Vancouver are concerned about increasing organized crime activity and the accompanying increases in enforcement costs;
Recent reports also show record subsidies paid to casinos while non-profits, charities, and arts organizations are being funded at levels lower than during the 1990s;
The fact the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation is being directed by the same ministry represents a serious potential conflict in gaming priorities and raises serious concerns about how gaming will be regulated and promoted in Vancouver;
Public confidence in the lottery public system needs to be restored prior to any decision on the expansion of gaming in the City of Vancouver
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
A. THAT the City of Vancouver support calls to have the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation separated into different ministries.
B. THAT the City of Vancouver call for a review of public gaming in the province of British Columbia in order to restore public confidence in the integrity of the gaming system.
C. THAT Vancouver Council support the BC Association of Charitable Gaming’s call for the Auditor General to investigate, and review the BC government’s obligations to charities for gaming revenues.
D. THAT the City of Vancouver affirms both the inherent and contractual rights and interests of charities and non-profits to gaming proceeds.
E. (In essence) THAT the City of Vancouver request endorsement of this motion by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
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Below is a sample letter from our coalition in support of Councillor Woodsworth’s motion.
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
I write with respect to the Edgewater Casino relocation and development application, and Councillor Woodsworth’s motion for Council to support a review of and changes to BC provincial gaming policy prior to approving any gaming expansion in Vancouver.
Although gambling was legalized in Canada in 1969, expressly to benefit sports, arts, and community groups, the massive expansion of gambling since 2000 has been disastrous for charities and non-profits, who now find themselves funded at levels lower than when the first slot machine was introduced in 1997.
And as recent news reports indicate, things have spun out of control with the BC Lottery Corp and the Gaming Enforcement Branch. Given the proximity of casinos to organized crime, and the gang wars that are shaking our communities, this is a time for caution.
Once expansion of gambling is approved, there is no turning back. We will have it here in Vancouver for posterity.
This is a matter of public trust.
As a citizen of Vancouver I ask you, my elected representative, to support our community organizations, and to oppose any expansion of gambling in Vancouver at this time.
Please don’t let a Las Vegas-style mega-casino be the most visible permanent mark you leave as a public servant of our city.
Vote NO to the Edgewater expansion, and YES to Councillor Woodsworth’s motion.