Monthly Archives: April 2011

Individuals and groups who helped us oppose the Vancouver mega-casino

For statements and letters from some of the following supporters, click here.

SUPPORTERS – INDIVIDUALS

Civic & BC political leaders

May Brown, Order of BC
Peter Ladner, Former City Councillor
George Puil, Former City Councillor
Darlene Marzari, Former City Councillor/BC MLA for Point Grey
Hon. Pat Carney
Ellen Woodsworth,  Vancouver City Councillor
Gordon Gibson, Order of BC
Marguerite Ford, Order of BC, Former City Councillor
Setty Pendakur, Former City Councillor
Fred Bass, Former City Councillor
Stuart Mackinnon, Park Board Commissioner, Green Party of Vancouver
Jonathan Baker, Former City Councillor
Dianne Ledingham, Former Vancouver Park Board Commissioner
Tim Louis, Former City Councillor

Community builders & Philanthropists

Milton Wong, Chancellor Emeritus SFU, Order of Canada, Order of BC
Jean Swanson, Award-winning anti-poverty activist
Mo Dhaliwal, Chair, Van. Int’l Bhangra Celebration
Fred Mah
Michael Clague, Order of Canada
Bill Chu
Herb Barbolet, Sustainable development expert, Founder, Farm Folk/City Folk

Architects, planners, urbanists & city builders

Bing Thom, Order of Canada
Peter Busby, Order of Canada, Founder and Chair, Canada Green Building Council
Cornelia Oberlander, Order of Canada
Penny Gurstein, UBC School of Community & Regional Planning
Colleen Hardwick (Nystedt), Urban geographer, film producer
Richard Balfour, Architect
Ned Jacobs, urbanist
Mark Osburn, Architect
Anthony Perl, Dir. SFU Urban Studies Program
Nick Milkovich, Architect

Academics & policy
Yosef Wosk, Order of BC
Jack Blaney, Order of Canada, Pres. Emeritus SFU
Michael Stevenson, President Emeritus, SFU
Dr. Marlene Moretti, CIHR Sr Research Chair, SFU
Doug McArthur, School of Public Policy, SFU
Dominique Gross, School of Public Policy, SFU
Ann Cowan, ED SFU Harbour Centre/Morris J. Wosk Centre
Seth Klein, BC Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Medical, health & addictions:

Dr. John Blatherwick, Order of Canada, Former Chief Medical Health Officer of Vancouver 1984 – 2007
Dr. Tom Perry, MD, Former cabinet minister
Dr. Fred Bass, MD, DSc, Consultant in Preventive Medicine
Dr. Stephen Drance, Order of Canada
Candace Plattor, Addiction therapist
Virginia Giles, Order of BC

Judges, lawyers, law enforcement, criminology

Ian Pitfield, Retired judge
Cameron Ward
Jack Giles, QC
Sgt. Bob Cooper, retired VPD, gang specialist
Peter Ditchfield, former Deputy Chief of Organized Crime Agency of BC
Katherine Wellburn, insolvency lawyer, former Registrar in Bankruptcy
Earl Moulton, Retired Commander of Saskatchewan RCMP, Chair, Vision Quest Recovery Society
S/Sgt Peter Montague (Ret’d) RCMP
Michael Walker, Lawyer (commercial real estate/hospitality)
Dr. Colin Campbell, Criminologist
Prof. Neil Boyd, SFU School of Criminology
And 18 retired policing officers – click here for names

Creative leaders
Ken Lum, Artist
Alma Lee, Founder of Vancouver Int’l Writer’s Fest, Order of Canada
George Bowering, former Poet Laureate of Canada, OC, OBC
Mani Amar, filmmaker
Shane Koyczan, poet
Rodney Graham, Artist
Brian Jungen
Lynne Stopkewich, film director
Colin Miles, City Opera
Stan Douglas, Artist
Ian Wallace
Dan Mangan, musician
Michael Turner, Writer
Catriona Jeffries
Alda Pereira, Designer
Hank Bull, artist/founder, Western Front
Judith Marcuse
Mark Leiren-Young
Ken Pickering

Economists, Business & public leaders, businesses
Richard Lipsey, Order of Canada, Prof. Emeritus of Economics, SFU, world-renowned economist
Val and Richard Bradshaw; Mr. Bradshaw is former CEO of Phllips Hager & North Investment Management Ltd.
Patrick Reid, Order of Canada
Donna Bridgeman, CA, (ret’d) GrowthWorks Capital
Karen Flavelle, President and CEO, Purdy’s Chocolates
Arran & Ratana Stephens, Nature’s Path
Alix Brown, past owner, Dexter Properties
David Allison, Braun Allison
Lea Watson, Owner, Canterbury Tales, 4th Ave/Commercial Drive
Bikes On The Drive
Attic Treasures, Commercial Drive
Bioethique

Commentators & press
David Berner
Alex G. Tsakumis

Clergy & religious leaders

Vancouver Chinese Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship , Rev. James Ip, Chair
(Assn of approx 120 Canadian Chinese churches in Metro Vancouver)

Faith Community Christian Church, Rev. Dr. Ted Ng, Lead Pastor

Christ Church Cathedral:
The Very Reverend Dr. Peter Elliott, Dean,
The Venerable Dr. Ellen Clark-King, Associate
The Reverend Alisdair Smith, Deacon
The Reverend Chris Dierkes, Curate,
The Reverend Dixie Black, Deacon

St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church
Rev. Gary Paterson, Senior Minister
Jennifer Cunnings, Minister of Children, Families and Seniors
Tim Scorer, Minister of Adult Formation
Michael Dobbin, Director of Development

Central Presbyterian Church:
Rev. Jim Smith, Minister

First Baptist Church:

Rev. Darrell W. Johnson, Senior Minister
Rev. Dr. John Cuddeford, Minister
Andrea Tisher, Dir. of Music & Worship
Rev. Bob Swann, Minister of Mission & Justice
Judy Lang, Ass. Minister for Congregational Care
Pastor Janet G. Porcino, Minister of Discipleship
Luz Figueroa, Director of Children and Family Ministries
Rev. Abraham Han, Minister of Urban & Community Life

St. Paul’s Anglican Church:
The Rev. Markus Duenzkofer, Incumbent

SUPPORTERS – GROUPS

Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of BC (COSCO)
Carnegie Community Action Project
BC Association of Social Workers
Community Arts Council of Vancouver
BC Persons With AIDS Society
Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver

Vancouver Churches:
Christ Church Cathedral
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
St Andrew’s-Wesley United Church
Central Presbyterian Church
First Baptist Church
St. David’s United Church
Tenth Avenue Alliance Church
Lutheran Urban Mission Society (Downtown Eastside)
Christian Social Concern Fellowship
Bethel International Church
Faith Community Christian Church

COALITION MEMBERS

False Creek Residents’ Association
Strathcona Residents’ Association
Grandview-Woodlands Area Council
BC Association for Charitable Gaming
Stop BC Arts Cuts
Alliance for Arts & Culture
Arts Advocacy BC
Britannia Community Centre

VOLUNTEERS

We would like to thank our many volunteers!
A few Vancouverites have put many extra hours into this fight:

Tom Hudock
Roger Donaldson
Dianne King
Arabella Campbell
Sean Cummings
Alix Brown
Donald Gislason
Jane Burkart
Scott Moore
Anne Duke
Isabel Minty
Anakana Schofield

Dr. Fred Bass, MD, Former Vancouver City Councillor, opposes casino expansion

Address to Council by Dr. Fred Bass, Former Vancouver City Councillor, MD, DSc, Consultant in Preventive Medicine. Among his other distinctions Dr. Bass holds a graduate degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Mr Mayor and Council,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

My trade is that of epidemiologist and tobacco addiction specialist. Epidemiology is the study of the determinants of health and illness in populations. My training in this area was at Harvard and Johns Hopkins.

I am wearing an Alligator Hat today that was given to me by smokers who appreciated learning that what controls their smoking behavior was not their thinking brain but their primitive—amphibian, Alligator Brain—the same part of the brain that controls problem gambling.

One of you asked the first evening, “What proportion of gambling money is spent by problem gamblers?”

That was a brilliant question. As the movie said, “Follow the money!” The lottery folks pleaded ignorance in their response.

The central issue here is not:
“What proportion of people are problem gamblers?”
but
“What proportion of dollars gambled are problem dollars?”

I will use a Solicitor General’s report of March 2003 to answer that question.

In response to “How much do you spend on gambling in an average month?”, the survey respondents told us that
20% spend less than $1 a month
45% spend $1-$10 a month
22% spend $11-$49 a month
6% spend $50-$99 a month
3% spend $100 to $199 a month and another
3% spend $200 or more

With the modest assumption that the $200 or more group spend $300 per month, we can answer the question what proportion of $ gambled comes from what proportion of the population.

The answer is that a bit over 50% ($1350 of $2695) of the money gambled came from 6% of those who gambled, which is 4.5% of the total population.

Coincidentally, the prevalence of problem gambling that year (2002) was estimated to be 4.6% of the total population.

This study also found that casino gamblers had a significantly higher proportion of problem gamblers 8.8% instead of 4.6% overall average. That’s almost twice the average prevalence.
Casinos appear to attract and/or produce problem gamblers.

In this room 25 years ago, when I was advocating for smoke-free pubs and restaurants, many union employees in the hospitality industry appeared as delegations to argue that smoke-free by-laws would ruin their jobs and their lives. You have heard similar statements from many casino employees.

Some strong words now: Like the tobacco industry, the casino industry is a parasitic industry. Gambling is not sustainable: witness their return, asking for gambling expansion just five years after their previous injection of a casino.

I believe the public, for the most part, has intuitively recognized that expanding slots from 600 to 1500 and gaming tables from 75 to 150 would not be good for this city.

My advice for those seeking re-election this fall is to reject expansion of the casino.

Respectfully,

Frederic Bass, MD, DSc

Q & A with a casino floor manager

Casino Q & A with Jason Feng, former floor manager with the River Rock Casino. Feng has over 20 years experience with the casino industry.

Q.  What if any training do staff undergo to assess if someone has a gambling problem?  Eg. If you take a look at the Serving It Right, there are detailed criteria about responsible beverage service, developing and supporting policies that prevent intoxication, handling situations that require intervention, etc.  Is there any comparable training you are aware of in BC casinos, and do you know of any other jurisdictions that pursue a “responsibility” program of any kind?

A: All staff at GCC go through training on assessing gambling problems similar to Serving it Right (which they also have to complete), called ART (Applied Response Training). Dealers and supervisors complete Level 1 and management has an additional Level 2 and or 3 module. I don’t know about other jurisdictions but I assume they would have something similar.

Q: Speaking of the couple involved in the recent Richmond murder suicide, you said that in retrospect you realize they showed signs of something amiss.  Accelerated play, more frequency, higher betting pattern.  In terms of management or staff, however, what would you or could you have done to intervene?

A: Part of ART training told us that ultimately it is their own money. If they were fighting or acted strangely then perhaps we could have said something. Other than increased amount played, they seemed pretty normal.  A person that drinks every day probably has a drinking problem. A person that gambles every day does not necessarily have a gambling problem, while somebody that gambles only once a week may have one.

Q: Are you saying that no matter what you can’t stop a customer from gambling
unless they are causing a disturbance or behaving in a way that would get them kicked out of any licensed premises?

A: That’s more or less true. A bar can cut off a customer because a number of things will eventually happen (passes out, starts swearing, or “you just know”). But with the policies in place, we (well I guess I have to say “they”) cannot stop somebody from gambling just because they are losing (or winning) or playing a lot. I mentioned before about people who have been there for an extended period of time, perhaps going to the hotel room for a quick nap then coming back down. It’s “their” money.

We do have people who have fallen asleep while playing on the table. The procedure is to wake them up and warn them once. After that it’s up to management to decide what happens if they doze off again.

Mani Amar: A Reckless Proposal & Profiteering For Criminals

A Reckless Proposal & Profiteering For Criminals
By Mani Amar

The amount of gang activity that occurs in Vancouver, our small but beautiful major city, rivals massive metropolitan areas across North America. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, & Chicago are well known throughout the world for gang activity, but another city has taken precedence on this list. Our city.

Vancouver generates billions of tax free dollars through its marijuana trade industry every year. Vancouver is geographically destined to be a major drug distribution hub. But instead of using resources to tackle such a drug issue, we are providing criminals with another reason to operate. Gambling.

Gambling, along with prohibited narcotics, alcohol, and prostitution have been historically the favourite industries for gangs to operate within. Gambling has an ominous aura; it attracts addictive personality peoples, it attracts organized crime, and it attracts violence. Gambling generates other dangerous criminal industries such as loan sharking and money laundering.

For a city that has been ravaged by violent crimes, a city with a drug industry with worldwide distribution, and a city with law enforcement resources stretched very thin, to even consider a mega casino expansion in a central location of the city is not only reckless, but simply stupid.

The very notion of PavCo bringing this proposal to Vancouver is based solely on greed. They do not care for our city, they do not care for our safety. They simply care about their own financial gain.

They bombard us with statistics of money, telling us that Vancouver will profit dearly from tax dollars and job creation. But they neglect to mention that lives will be damaged, government resources will be stretched further, our valuable tax dollars and the valuable tax dollars of our future generations will be used to salvage the socioeconomic downturn of our once beautiful, and more importantly, safe city.

I urge the council to consider the negative effects of this casino expansion. Consider all that will be lost, for this generation and our future.

This is nothing more than a reckless proposal and opportunity of profiteering for criminals. This is simply a situation where the cons outweigh the pros.

Dominique Gross: Vancouver needs a new museum, not a casino

By Dominique Gross, Professor of Public Policy, SFU

Vancouver needs a new museum. Here is why a museum, not a casino, is the future:

The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain designed by Frank Gehry (a Canadian architect) has been attracting around 800,000 visitors per year since its opening, and 82% came EXCLUSIVELY for the museum.

The economic impact in 2001 was estimated around $150 million. It brought about 25 millions in taxes equivalent to about 4,415 jobs.

Visitors spent about $43 millions in accommodation, $35 millions in catering, $13 millions in shopping, $9.5 millions in transports and $6.6 million in leisure (numbers from Forbes).

The Bilbao museum is one of the top attractions in Spain.

The Bilbao museum cost about $190 millions in 2010 dollars ($100 millions to build in 1997 plus $20 millions endowment).

The Frank Gehry Guggenheim museum does not generate addiction that destroys individuals and their family.
The Frank Gehry Guggenheim museum does not support organised crime.
The Frank Gehry Guggenheim museum construction cost less than 1/2 of the planned casino.

Vancouver will not become a world class city with a giant casino. Who believes Nice (France), Las Vegas (US), Macao (China) are world class cities? Only those who encourage greed as a driver of human behaviour rather than culture and knowledge.

Dominique Gross is Professor at the School of Public Policy, Simon Fraser University. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Toronto and has also worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington , DC and the International Labour Office (ILO), in Geneva, where she had the opportunity to teach and develop economic research programmes in several Sub-Sahara African countries.

In her research, she specializes in applied international labour and finance macroeconomic questions. She is particularly interested in the relationship between domestic policies and international immigrant and foreign investment location decisions. The main geographical focuses of her research are Europe and North America. She has published in academic journals, in edited books as well as produced policy studies with an international perspective for the CD Howe Institute in Toronto , the ILO, the IMF and the World Bank.

Peter Busby, Architect, Order of Canada, and former Vancouver planner Penny Gurstein, oppose Vancouver casino

.

Peter Busby and Penny Gurstein have co-signed an op ed opposing the Edgewater mega-casino development. Peter Busby, Order of Canada, is a world-renowned architect and is Founder and Chair, Canada Green Building Council. Penny Gurstein is Professor and Director of the School of Community and Regional Planning and the Centre for Human Settlements at UBC.

Below their op ed, you will also find Peter’s notes detailing some of the environmental, architectural, urban planning and economic problems with the casino plan.

Insular megacasino would add no value to Vancouver’s downtown businesses

Also printed in the Vancouver Observer.

On April 9 and 10th, 2011, Vancouver City Council is holding rare weekend public consultations on the controversial proposed megacasino project adjacent to BC Place.

Council’s ultimate decision on the project will test the fundamental values Vancouver has worked hard to achieve and will set forth a vision for the city’s future.

Vancouver has made great strides distinguishing itself from most large North American urban centres. It’s a city where urban-planning techniques and architectural styles are based on the core values of sustainable, economic, social and ecological development. Vancouverites see these values reflected in the growing collection of innovative green architecture, vibrant neighbourhoods, transit options, green space and lack of highways bisecting the city.

The proposal by Crown-owned BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo) and Las-Vegas-based Paragon to build this mega-casino, boasting a gambling floor the size of two NFL football fields and 1500 slots, does not reflect a city renowned for its lifestyle, natural beauty and diverse cultural integration.

The presence of this megacasino in the downtown core threatens to undermine Vancouver’s values while running contrary to the vision of a municipality that aspires to be the greenest city in the world in less than a decade.

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Richard Lipsey, Economist, Order of Canada, opposes the casino

13 years ago, internationally renowned economist Richard Lipsey wrote a paper on gambling expansion with Lennart Henriksson, entitled Should Provinces Expand Gambling. As he is traveling on a schedule too tight to permit him to write on this topic today, Dr. Lipsey invited us to excerpt his paper in ways that are helpful to today’s debate. What follows could have been written yesterday:

By Richard Lipsey, PhD, Professor Emeritus, SFU, Order of Canada

Summary:

We believe it is time for governments to adopt a more sober set of expectation about what new gambling ventures can achieve.

[T]here has been little clear thinking on the question of whether the benefits of expansion outweigh the costs. … Unfortunately, most cost benefit studies to date have been funded by groups with a vested interest in expansion, such as governments or would-be casino developers. In the typical study, the benefits of expansion are overstated, often by ignoring the diversion effect. In other cases, the social costs of expansion are understated or ignored altogether.

To be sure, the tax content of new gambling expenditures for the government is substantial. But for the economy as a whole, we conclude that while some new revenues and jobs are created, these are largely offset by the loss of jobs and revenue in other sectors.

The downside risks of gambling are significant, When the social costs are deducted, the incremental revenues may turn out to be negative. For the BC government, even a tiny increase in healthcare, social services or law enforcement costs would easily wipe out any incremental gain. Sadly, the government continues to overlook the need for objective and realistic analysis.

[T]he benefits from new gambling are limited, and easily overwhelmed by large downside risks.

On Employment:

It is easy to point to jobs created in gambling because they are localized and visible; it is difficult to track the jobs destroyed by the diversion of expenditures from other lines of expenditure because they are diffused. … Only careful studies of overall employment trends, not just those in gambling, have any chance of uncovering the true full effect –and, by and large, such studies find little effect.

[T]the losses from gambling are partly moneys transferred from expenditures that the losers would have otherwise made. For the same reason, most of the jobs created in gambling only substitute one for one (at best) for the jobs destroyed when expenditure switches from other activities. Although any new job is to be welcomed, these are not the sort of increments that justify accepting significant social costs to obtain.

On Problem Gambling and Crime:

Problem gamblers are an easy target for those in organized crime. They can be lent money which they lose, and then forced into such illegal activities as couriering drugs. The existence of a supply of problem gamblers may actually attract the criminals who would exploit them. And, when the consequences come home to roost, suicide may increasingly appear to be an easy out.

On Political Integrity:

A degree of corruption is a very likely product of expanded gambling. To be sure, some jurisdictions seek diligently to prevent corruption in the regulatory process through mechanisms such as conflict of interest rules, the appointment of persons who are above suspicion, or requirements for open procedures. But the effectiveness of these practices is limited. The licenses that a gaming commission awards are extremely valuable, and decisions it makes governing day-to-day operation of gaming facilities will often involve large amounts of cash. Suspicion of corruption and its occasional appearance are inherent in the process.

On Public Debate:

There has been a “bandwagon” atmosphere around gambling in Canada, and an unfortunate stifling of healthy public debate.

On Policy:

All in all, the best gambles are those in which one risks a relatively small sum in the hopes of winning a relatively large sum. The bet the public is being asked to make on extended gambling violates that basic principle. They risk a large economic and social loss that is uncertain and open-ended. No one knows how big it may be. All in all, this is neither an efficient nor effective way of funding public policy goals.

Richard Lipsey, PhD, Professor Emeritus, SFU, Order of Canada

Influential New Supporters of Vancouver Not Vegas

MILTON WONG PETER BUSBY KEN LUM COLLEEN HARDWICK DICK BRADSHAW RICHARD LIPSEY STAN DOUGLAS PENNY GURSTEIN LYNNE STOPKEWICH RODNEY GRAHAM GEORGE BOWERING KAREN FLAVELLE DONNA BRIDGEMAN COLIN MILES EARL MOULTON CHRIS MATHERS IAN WALLACE Rev. James IP

We are pleased to announce that a number of new supporters have joined other eminent people from diverse backgrounds to endorse the Coalition in its opposition to what would be Western Canada’s largest gambling casino.

These people and the many others who have supported the Coalition have asked themselves whether this casino is a reflection of the kind of Vancouver that they want for themselves and for future generationsTheir answer is a resounding no.

The latest individuals to offer their endorsement of the goals of Vancouver, Not Vegas! include:

Milton Wong, Chancellor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Order of Canada, Order of BC.
Peter Busby, Order of Canada, Founder and Chair, Canada Green Building Council.
Ken Lum, Artist.
Lynne Stopkewich, Filmmaker.
Colleen Hardwick (Nystedt) Urban Geographer, Film Producer.
Richard Lipsey, Professor  Emeritus, Simon Fraser University Economics Dept., Order of Canada.
George Bowering, former Poet Laureate of Canada, Order of Canada, Order of BC.
Val and Richard Bradshaw, Mr. Bradshaw is the former CEO of Phllips Hager & North Investment Management Ltd.
Karen Flavelle, President and CEO, Purdy’s Chocolates.
Donna Bridgeman, CA, (ret’d) GrowthWorks Capital
Penny Gurstein, University of British Columbia School of Community & Regional Planning.
Colin Miles,  Regional Director, Canadian Music Centre (Ret’d)   See his excellent comments here:   Video: Colin Miles tells it like it is
Earl Moulton, Retired Commander of Saskatchewan RCMP, Chair, Vision Quest Recovery Society (addiction recovery)
Stan Douglas, Artist
Ian Wallace, Artist
Rodney Graham, Artist
Chris Mathers, Retired corporal, RCMP, undercover officer specializing in gangs, money laundering; former President, KPMG Corporate Intelligence Inc. chrismathers.com

Vancouver City Council is holding public hearings about the proposed expansion of the Edgewater casino. The consultations take place tomorrow, April 9, from 10 am to 6 pm Saturday, April 9, at City Hall.

Hearings will continue Sunday if necessary, from 1 pm to 6 pm, and again on the evening of April 12.

For more information:

Ann Gibbon
604 263 0634
778 999 0064
info@anngibboncommunications.com

Full list of names continues below

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Police Veterans Oppose Casino Expansion

Mayor and Council,
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver BC V5Y 1V4
Via E-mail

April 7, 2011

Dear Mayor and Council,

Re: Proposed Relocation and Expansion of Edgewater Casino

We, the undersigned, are members or retired members of the VPD, RCMP and other law enforcement agencies operating in BC, Canada, and internationally. We all have decades of experience in law enforcement, and many of us have particular experience or undercover expertise with organized crime, gangs, and money-laundering. Organized crime and gang activity have become deeply entrenched in the Metro Vancouver environment and represent an ongoing threat to public safety.

We urge this Council not to approve the proposed expansion and relocation of the Edgewater Casino. Casinos and racetracks are well known for their vulnerability to the activities of gangs and organized crime–money-laundering, loan-sharking, extortion, and prostitution, as well as for the vulnerability to public corruption which they engender.

That organized criminals and gang members frequent BC casinos, and easily use them to launder money, or use them as sites for the operation of loan-sharking and prostitution, is well known. Policing in casinos and racetracks requires a robust commitment to real enforcement of the law–a commitment that is plainly lacking at the present time.

Further, we are very concerned about the impact of increased gambling on our addict population, or those at risk of entering it. We note the 2009 report of the B.C. Medical Association, Stepping Forward, which found that the incidence of severe gambling addiction has more than doubled between 2002-2009, and that BC now has nearly as many severe gambling addicts as it does drug addicts. Additionally, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has recently released a study showing that 29,000 Ontario teens in grades 7-12 now show signs of problem gambling.

It is no coincidence that these youths are also significantly more likely than their peers to engage in gang violence, carry a handgun, and deal drugs other than cannabis. Tragically, they are also 18 times more likely than their peers to have attempted suicide in the past year.

Locating a major casino in a major regional sporting complex sends a poor message to our youth.

Addiction is a blight on society. It has a close and mutually reinforcing relationship with crime. It promotes additional offenses such as property crimes and drug-dealing, as victims seek the money to feed their habits–whatever those may be. There is no way to measure the social cost of this suffering on victims and their families, but the health, policing, criminal justice, social services and corrections systems as well as charitable service agencies all bear the brunt of the increased pressures brought about by this public problem.

Securing new sources of government funds from addicts to pay for their increased demand on government services is not wise public policy.

Without significant changes in the policing protocol, and the adoption of rigorous crime control standards for casinos such as those employed by the Ontario Provincial Police, we are in no position to deal with the increased criminal activity that will necessarily attend the development of a massive casino on the scale proposed here.

As citizens and public servants, we owe a duty of care to society’s weakest and most vulnerable, to our youth and seniors, and to the public at large. As police officers, we have seen the ravages of addiction and of gang and organized crime first-hand. The connection is closer than most members of the public may imagine.

We urge Vancouver City Council to vote against the expansion and relocation of the Edgewater Casino.

Yours truly,

Assistant Commissioner Earl Moulton – RCMP Commanding Officer Saskatchewan
(Ret’d)  Chair of Vision Quest Recovery Society (Addiction recovery services, BC)
Deputy Chief Constable Peter Ditchfield, Organized Crime Agency of BC (Ret’d)
Detective Ian Pope, Organized Crime Agency of B.C., formerly VPD, (Ret’d)
Sergeant Bob Cooper, VPD Asian Organized Crime Section, (Ret’d)
Sergeant Ivan Chu, New Westminster Police Service (Ret’d)
Superintendent GlennWoods, Officer in Charge of Behavioural Sciences, RCMP (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Otto Bertagnolli, RCMP Drug Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Scot Filer, RCMP Major Crime Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Peter Montague, RCMP Commercial Crime Section (Ret’d)
Corporal Howard Parks, RCMP Money Laundering Expert (Ret’d)
Corporal Chris Mathers, RCMP Money Laundering Expert (Ret’d)
Sergeant Pat Powell, RCMP Threat Assessment Expert (Ret’d)
Inspector Keith Davidson, RCMP Major Crime Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Bob Hartl, RCMP Security Engineering Expert (Ret’d)
Dr Teal Maedel, RCMP Operational Psychologist (Major Crime Section)
Staff Sergeant Robert Stenhouse, RCMP Drug Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Sid Slater, RCMP Major Crime Section (Ret’d)
Staff Sergeant Tibi Roman, RCMP Border Integrity (serving)

Letter from retired judge Ian Pitfield


Retired BC judge Ian Pitfield

PavCo boss needs to get casino facts straight

Re: “More facts than fiction needed in gambling debate” – Podium op/ed from BC Pavilion Corp. CEO Warren Buckley – issue 1116; March 15-21)

Warren Buckley seems to have difficulty differentiating between fiction and fact.

He says that “at 110,000 square feet the casino is about the size of a single football field.” The city planning report calls for a casino of up to 114,000 square feet. A quick Google search of football-field dimensions yields the answer of 57,600 square feet – roughly half the size of the proposed casino. While that is the American football field, the comparable Canadian playing surface is 64,350 square feet, excluding the end zones. Whatever dimensions are used, the fact is that at 114,000 square feet, the casino would be 2.62 acres. It’s certainly not “about the size” of one football field.

One can have about as much confidence in Mr. Buckley’s calculation as one can have in his statement that the City of Vancouver will derive $23 million annually from the operation of the proposed casino-hotel complex. Approximately $6.3 million is already earned from the existing Edgewater Casino. Another $6 million will come from property taxes.

Neither PavCo nor the BC Lottery Corp. (BCLC) acknowledges that property tax will be payable, however the proposed site is developed. The real increase in revenue to the city would then be a maximum of $11 to $12 million. For many reasons that estimate is more likely fiction than fact.

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