Recap from November, 2011 – Rezoning for large casino design passed by City Council

This is a recap of the situation as of November 29, 2011, at Vancouver City Council. We will be updating you on new developments on this situation soon:

Despite our legal challenge in BC Supreme Court, in its very first post-election meeting, one of the last meetings of the 2008-11 Council, Council has passed the rezoning application that includes a clause allowing Edgewater Casino to relocate to BC Place. The only councillor who voted against was Ellen Woodsworth. What does this mean? It means that Council did not demand of PavCo that it reduce the massive building size of its original mega-casino proposal, thus leaving the door wide open to future expansion. It’s a clear go-ahead signal to PavCo and Paragon.

Casino expansion is inevitable down the road in the approved massive floor plate, and what’s worse, it’s possible WITHOUT technical gaming expansion. The 600 slots from failing Hastings Park could likely be added to the existing 600 at Edgewater Casino, for a total of 1200 slots at BC Place Stadium. We’d end up with a mega-casino in downtown Vancouver, even without “gaming expansion.” This means Vancouver can go the route of Atlantic City (major casinos downtown, rare in N. America) even without Vision breaking its election promises. It was a mistake (or deliberate folly) for Council not to stipulate that the proponent must submit a new, smaller plan for the relocated casino.

We will see what the BC Supreme Court has to say on this topic. Our contention is that this permission to relocate without a new application is a contravention of BC Gaming law. There are also other legal options. There is also the Development Permit process, but that tends to a rubber stamp process involving City Manager Penny Ballem who was squarely behind this casino project, and the new Director of Planning whose title is now “Director of Development.”

We will need your help and loud voices to remind Vision that it was partly elected because Vancouver believed it was stopping this mega-casino. If its language during the election was deceptive, that will be a betrayal Vancouver will not forget.

For press stories on the Nov 29 passing of the original rezoning application, click here.

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NOTE: we were ASKED BY CITY COUNCIL WHY WE DID NOT OPPOSE SIMPLE RELOCATION.  SIMPLE RELOCATION WAS NEVER PRESENTED TO US AS AN OPTION. READ ON.

Above is the top U.S. expert on the gambling industry and impacts of gambling on communities, Professor Robert Goodman, who has been hired by both Democrat and Republican administrations.

During our fight against the mega-casino in Vancouver, we made frequent reference to Dr. Goodman and his studies on proximity of casinos to residential areas. It is lately being implied by Vancouver City Council that Vancouver Not Vegas only fought expansion, not relocation.

Firstly, the proponents (PavCo & Paragon Gaming) claimed they were only interested in this project if they were granted the right to nearly triple their operation. Therefore, we chose to oppose that plan. However, secondly, we and many of our supporters described at length the problems with putting gambling in proximity to residential areas, especially dense neighbourhoods. Throughout the hearings many Vancouverites cited studies and stats showing that proximity increases rates of problem gambling and crime etc. When it is now said that no one objected to relocation, we must remind Council to stick to the facts. A majority of Vancouverites don’t want gambling in our downtown or our neighbourhoods, and this is a widespread view. Most cities put gambling on the outskirts of town for a reason, if they allow it at all. Let it not be said we did not oppose the BC Place stadium location. That’s just simply untrue. 

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PREVIOUS NOTE:
NOVEMBER 24, 2011

They’re back. Ignoring our legal challenge at BC Supreme Court, City Hall appears to be going ahead with a relocation plan whose details are completely unknown to the public. From Council’s Agenda for November 29:

“Staff advise that BC Pavilion Corporation is now ready to proceed with enactment of the by-law for the project at 777 Pacific Boulevard, which allows for the relocation but not expansion of the Edgewater Casino on site. This enables Concord Pacific to proceed with enactment of the By-law for their application at 10 Terry Fox Way (Concord Area 5B East).

The following is therefore put forward for consideration by Council:

THAT the application to amend the False Creek North Official Development Plan, By-law No. 6650, generally as presented in Appendix B of the Policy Report dated January 10, 2011, entitled “Amendments to the False Creek North Official Development Plan”, be approved;

FURTHER THAT the Director of Legal Services be instructed to bring forward the amending by-law, generally in accordance with Appendix B.”

This is unacceptable. We demand City Hall wait until courts decide whether Council’s relocation clause contravenes BC Gaming Law.

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