Kendall Report A Game-Changer for Edgewater: Public Health Leaders Call for Action on Addiction

Vancouver DPB

Kendall Report A Game-Changer for Edgewater:
Public Health Leaders Call for Action on Addiction

In light of the recent findings of Dr. Perry Kendall, BC’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Vancouver Not Vegas announces today that over 30 Vancouver and BC public health experts, scholars and eminent citizens call for the Edgewater Casino application to go back to Council for comprehensive public review and implementation of a harm reduction strategy.

Notable signatories include Senator Pat Carney, Dr. John Blatherwick, and BC’s leading experts on addiction and public health.

In October, BC Chief Medical Health Officer Dr Perry Kendall issued a major report, Lower the Stakes, which found that gambling addiction in BC has more than doubled from 2001-07, the greatest period of gambling expansion in the province. Dr. Kendall called for strong government intervention to curb addictions, including limiting alcohol service, hours of operation, and raising prices.

This call has been ignored by the provincial government.

On December 16th the new Edgewater Casino project goes before the Development Permit Board for approval, upon which construction can commence.

“The Kendall report changes everything for the Edgewater proposal,” says Sandy Garossino, spokesperson of Vancouver Not Vegas, “the public health community wants to see government action, and polls show that the community is fully behind them.”

Among those calling for review are scientist Gerald Thomas, lead writer of Dr. Kendall’s report, and Dr. Lu Shao-Hua, who chaired the 2009 BCMA report, Stepping Forward, Improving Addiction Care in BC. They stepped forward as private citizens, as do the many other leading members of the community.

“For over a decade decisions about expanding the availability of gambling have been made almost entirely on fiscal grounds,” says Gerald Thomas, “It is time that public health and safety concerns be brought meaningfully into these discussions, and the Edgewater expansion is an excellent place to start that process. Gambling has substantial public health implications and therefore IS a public health issue.”

“Gambling addiction is intimately linked to other mental health issues and substantially overlaps with other addictions,” adds Dr. Lu. “One cannot tackle the enormous addiction problems in Vancouver without seriously addressing harm reduction in gambling.”

Other supporters include Dr. John Blatherwick, former Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver, Dr. Michael Stevenson, President Emeritus of SFU, and many others of eminent reputation whose names are appended to this release.

Vancouver Not Vegas applauds the resolve of Vancouver City Council in rejecting Edgewater’s application for a massive increase in slot machines and gaming tables, and for Councillor Kerry Jang’s motion to refer Dr. Kendall’s report to the Vancouver Medical Health Officer for consideration.

However, in light of the Kendall Report and its recommendations, we ask that Council deepen its commitment to its own Healthy City Strategy. As polls indicate, a majority of Vancouverites are dissatisfied with the casino development, and want it reviewed or stopped altogether.

Vancouver Not Vegas proposes that the City adopt the following measures prior to the grant of any development permit:

1.  Review the zoning of the subject property and confine zoned casino floor space to an appropriate size;
2.  Limit all casino and slot machine operations in Vancouver to bar hours;
3.  Limit or regulate the service of alcohol in gaming environments.

Certainty and predictability are vital to the public and to business operators. The time to establish rules and standards is before investors become so committed to a project that there’s no turning back.

____________________

List of community and public health leaders attached as Appendix i—see following page

Media contacts:

Sandy Garossino: TEXT ONLY please, to book interviews 778-231-5230
Gerald Thomas PhD: 250-317-2615
Dr. Lu Shao-Hua 604-780-9087

Appendix i

Supporters

(Please note that descriptors denote background and qualifications only. All supporters have signed as private citizens, not as representatives)

Gerald Thomas PhD Collaborating Scientist, Centre for Addictions Research of BC, UVIC; lead author of Provincial Health Officer report: “Lower the Stakes”

Dr. Lu Shaohua, Clinical & Associate Professor, UBC
Addiction and Consulting Psychiatrist, Chair of BCMA 2009 report Stepping Forward: Improving Addiction Care in British Columbia

Senator Pat Carney, (ret’d)

Dr. John Blatherwick, Vancouver Chief Medical Officer 1984-2007

Dr. Michael Stevenson President Emeritus, SFU

Dr. Bruce Alexander, Professor Emeritus SFU, author, The Globalization of Addiction

Dr. Penny Gurstein, Director of the School of Community and Regional Planning and the Centre for Human Settlements. UBC

Trevor Boddy, Critic, Curator, Historian of architecture/urbanism

Dr. Malcolm Steinberg, Director, Masters in Public Health Program, SFU

James Frankish PhD, Director, Centre for Population Health Promotion Research, UBC

Andy Yan, Adjunct Professor, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning, BTAWorks

Jeff Brooks, former Director of Social Planning, City of Vancouver

Dr. Gabor Maté, Physician, author and addictions expert

Dr. Tom Perry,  former MLA and Minister of Advanced Education, Training & Technology, currently physician at UBC Hospital

Bing Thom, Architect AIBC, CM, RAIC Gold Medalist

Ian Pitfield, former justice of the BC Supreme Court and trial judge for the landmark Insite case

Katherine Wellburn, lawyer, former Registrar in Bankruptcy, BC Supreme Court

George Bowering, Order of Canada, OBC, Former Poet Laureate of Canada

Seth Klein, Executive Director, CCPA Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Gillian Maxwell, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

Harvey Mackinnon, Author and international charitable fundraising consultant

Adriane Carr, Vancouver City Councillor, Former leader of the Green Party of BC

Ellen Woodsworth, Former Vancouver City Councillor

Peter Ladner, Former Vancouver City Councillor, writer for Business in Vancouver

Jason Feng, former floor manager, River Rock Casino

Nathan Edelson, Former City of Vancouver planner

Martha Burton

Mo Dhaliwal, Director of Strategy for Skyrocket, Director Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration

Ken Lum, Internationally renowned BC artist

Brian Jungen, Internationally renowned BC artist

Dick & Val Bradshaw, Philanthropists.

Vik Khanna, Co-Founder & COO at Faronics, philanthropist

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2 responses to “Kendall Report A Game-Changer for Edgewater: Public Health Leaders Call for Action on Addiction

  1. Pingback: Vancouver Not Vegas calls for halt to casino development due to doubling of problem gamblers | MPHealth

  2. …” A selection of private gaming salons will be available for high limit table game play..”
    These salons will be in addition to to slot machines and table games, apparently.
    Is this not actually an expansion of gaming facilities? There are no private gaming salons at Edgewater now?
    Appendix E (page 3) of staff report to Development Permit Board:
    http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/committees/report-development-permit-board-39-smithe-street-DE417276-20131216.pdf (at page 82 of report)

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