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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

-30-

Petition: Asking the City of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board to refer Edgewater Casino application back to Council

Vancouver DPB

Please sign our petition. In light of the recent Kendall Report on the rise in severe gambling addiction, we ask the City of Vancouver to refer the Edgewater Casino’s permit application back from the Development Permit Board (Dec. 16 meeting) to City Council for further review and a discussion about harm reduction. For more information, click “Read the petition.”

City of Vancouver: In light of Kendall Report on rising gambling addiction, send the Edgewater Casino application back to Council for review

This petition is now closed.

End date: Jan 31, 2014

Signatures collected: 659

659 signatures

Signatures
659Tokuko WrayJan 18, 2014
658Jose MangueJan 13, 2014
657Lila LaneJan 10, 2014
656val clarkJan 06, 2014
655Michael ProskowJan 06, 2014
654Kathy LauDec 29, 2013
653Ryan KruminsDec 21, 2013
652Harrison FordDec 21, 2013
651Jessica BruhnDec 20, 2013
650ugly as all heck build something less appallingly uglyDec 19, 2013
649Stewart McLeanDec 19, 2013
648Liliane KarnoukDec 19, 2013
647Manon LeeDec 19, 2013
646Edgar BridwellDec 18, 2013
645Romari UndiDec 18, 2013
644Daniel ShawDec 18, 2013
643Kathryn AllisonDec 17, 2013
642Yvonne LamDec 17, 2013
641Esther YuenDec 17, 2013
640Ryan TongDec 17, 2013
639Marco Del MonteDec 17, 2013
638Janet CartenDec 17, 2013
637Michele SimDec 17, 2013
636I want to gamble, dont take that away from me so fck this noise, batchesDec 17, 2013
635Dos BatosDec 17, 2013
634Pauvre fille t'es ridicule !Dec 17, 2013
633alright whos doing these fake names ..................... its meDec 17, 2013
632ur all fgts fck uDec 17, 2013
631Josh MontgomeryDec 17, 2013
630mike hawkDec 17, 2013
629 lil Timmy SnowdenDec 17, 2013
628LickMY ANUSDec 17, 2013
627Juicy jDec 17, 2013
626adolf hitlerDec 17, 2013
625Caroline Le BretonDec 17, 2013
624Audrey FooDec 17, 2013
623Ryan StevensDec 17, 2013
622Lindsay BurkeDec 17, 2013
621bev leederDec 17, 2013
620Harpreet SondhDec 17, 2013
619Tyson HernandezDec 17, 2013
618Chris LohDec 17, 2013
617Laurie MacKenzieDec 17, 2013
616Lyndsay PoapsDec 17, 2013
615John E WalkerDec 16, 2013
614Rowan BrownDec 16, 2013
613Ken WanDec 16, 2013
612kerr mcleodDec 16, 2013
611Leo ChangDec 16, 2013
610vanessa richardsDec 16, 2013

VNV asks CoV’s Development Permit Board to return Edgewater Casino proposal to City Council for further review

Photo via CBC

On December 17, 2013, the City of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board (DPB) will review a development permit application for a new Edgewater Casino at BC Place.

On October, 17, the BC government’s Kendall Report, conducted by BC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Perry Kendall, demonstrated that gambling addiction is very widespread and that it has doubled over the past five years.

In light of the Kendall report, Vancouver Not Vegas and its supporters make the following requests of the City of Vancouver and its DPB:

_______________________________________________________

Vancouver Not Vegas asks the City of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board return the Edgewater Casino proposal to City Council for further review.

In October, BC Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall issued a report warning that governments must do more to curb severe gambling addiction in BC.

In 2011 Vancouver City Council unanimously rejected the expansion of gambling licenses for Edgewater Casino, and approved the relocation of the casino to BC Place.

On December 17, the proposed Edgewater Casino goes to the Development Permit Board for approval. If it passes there, construction can commence before Christmas.

No further public hearings will be held.

In light of the Kendall recommendations and Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy, Vancouver Not Vegas calls for the Edgewater application be returned to City Council for comprehensive public review and implementation of a harm reduction strategy for the casino.

_______________________________________________________

Vancouver DPB

The Kendall Report: gambling addiction in BC has doubled in 5 years

Photo via CBC
Photo via CBC

[Please sign our petition here, after reading! Thank you.]

CBC: “The number of severely-addicted gamblers in British Columbia has more than doubled while the provincial government has taken in billions in gaming revenue, according to a new report from the Provincial Health Officer.

The concerning figures have prompted B.C. medical health officer Dr. Perry Kendall to call for more government investment in gambling prevention and treatment programs.

The report, released Wednesday, analyzed data collected between 2002 and 2007. It showed that even though gambling activities have generally declined, the number of people with a severe gambling problem has risen from 13,000 to 31,000.”

The Kendall Report requires an immediate response from provincial and municipal governments. The report was published over six weeks ago, and yet there has been no reaction from the BC government or the City of Vancouver. Meanwhile, we are heading for a development permit hearing on December 17 for the massive casino building – at its original massive size, ripe for future expansion – in downtown Vancouver adjoining BC Place Stadium. One of the largest demographics for rising gambling addiction is young males. Why has there been no reaction to the Kendall Report?

VNV responds to renewed plans for massive downtown Vancouver casino

Sept 24, 2013

Full text of our statement today in response to Paragon Gaming’s announcement of renewed plans to build a massive casino “resort” in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver Not Vegas responds to Paragon Gaming announcement 
September 24, 2013

In 2011 Vancouverites united and spoke with one voice that we don’t want a mega-casino in our city.  This is not who we are, nor the values we want to project about our city.  We do not choose to offload the cost of government onto the weak and the vulnerable. And we’re not alone. Cities across Canada are telling governments they’ve had it with the relentless attempt to force gambling into our communities.

Yet despite a resounding 11-0 vote in Vancouver City Council that rejected the proposal, here we are again.

Yet again there has been no transparency, no disclosure, no public consultation of a massive casino project.  Yet again a glamourous shiny announcement of a half-billion dollar project is foisted on the public with few details.

The most important feature of the Paragon announcement is the information still being withheld from the public.

  1. No disclosure of the planned casino floor space. Vancouver City Council, with no public debate on this key point, approved a rezoning of over 2.5 acres of casino floor space for this site—that’s over 2 NFL football fields.
  2. No disclosure of the very significant public subsidies going into the construction and maintenance of the development.  Does the BC Lottery Corporation facility development contribution remain at $16.9 million annually, as outlined in the Deloitte Report issued in 2010?
  3. No disclosure of the public subsidy in the form of the 50% lease discount negotiated with PavCo.  These lands were supposed to help pay for the stadium roof.  Now the lease won’t even pay the interest on the debt.

This is a terrible deal for both the City of Vancouver and the Province of BC.  If Edgewater cannot expand its slot machines and gaming tables, it’s a business certainty that revenues to the province and the city will fall, because Edgewater’s expenses are about to rise precipitously.  There are no independent pro formas detailing projected earnings. It’s vital to remember that the Edgewater Casino has never met the original revenue promises it made to the city upon which its original license was granted.

End to end, this is a money losing proposition that will only add to the millions of dollars the public loses annually in the operation of BC Place.

Vancouver Not Vegas has filed a petition in BC Supreme Court contesting the relocation.

Statement by Sandy Garossino on behalf of VNV
Text queries to 778-231-5230

Addendum:

Video via here.

Vancouver Not Vegas Submission to the Development Permit Board

vancouver-not-vegas

Vancouver Not Vegas Submission to the Development Permit Board
July 15, 2013

Vancouver Not Vegas is a coalition of citizens and community groups advocating for a healthy urban environment, and concerned about the proliferation of casinos in Vancouver.

Paragon Gaming, the BC Lottery Corporation and PavCo have a history of failing to disclose material facts and circumstances to the public, including the status of signed agreements and the existence of independent revenue projections that conflict with inflated numbers provided to City officials and the public.

Our position respecting today’s application is to take no position, but to state on the record that

1.  Vancouver Not Vegas objects to the lack of transparency and public disclosure surrounding future plans for the Edgewater Casino. Under the Gaming Control Act, the public is entitled to full notice of all material circumstances surrounding proposed casinos, yet the public knows nothing at all about what will transpire;

2.  To comply with the Gaming Control legislation, it will be necessary for Paragon Gaming’s relocation to BC Place to return to City Council for public hearings. To date:

•  No plans or drawings for the site have been publicly disclosed,
•  No net revenue projections nor host city revenue impact has been disclosed or independently verified;
•  There has been no disclosure of public subsidies in the form of lease forgiveness, construction subsidies or environmental remediation to be born by the BC taxpayer.

3.  As gaming revenues in the new location will not substantially increase, but construction and operation costs will, it is probable that the proposed relocation of Edgewater Casino will result in decreased revenue to the City and provincial government, unless it is significantly altered.

4.  It is reported that Paragon is in discussions with other gaming providers. What is the subject of those discussions—ie, is Paragon looking to sell its interest, or is it in discussions to expand its gaming capacity in some form of amalgamation or joint venture that materially alters the proposed development?

Before the City exercises its discretion in favour of the applicant’s request for an extension of its gambling permit, we ask for Paragon to publicly disclose the nature of its discussions with other gaming interests, and to commit to limiting its intended licenses to those already approved for the site, i.e. 500 slot machines and 65 gaming tables.

Media contact:
Sandy Garossino
Please text queries to:
778-231-5230

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vancouver Not Vegas Issues Court Challenge to PavCo & Paragon Casino Plan

Edgewater Casino Relocation Plan - What does it look like? We have no idea.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Vancouver Not Vegas Issues Court Challenge to PavCo and Paragon BC Place Casino Plan

Details of lease agreement unclear for both City and Province

May 2, 2013, Vancouver:  Vancouver Not Vegas announced today that it will proceed with the action it filed in November 2011 in the BC Supreme Court challenging City Council’s approval of relocation of the Edgewater Casino to BC Place.

The decision to proceed with the action results from PavCo’s announcement that it has signed an agreement to lease with Paragon Gaming Corporation allowing construction of a casino on the BC Place site. There has been no public disclosure or public hearing concerning the terms of the Edgewater Casino proposal contrary to the BC Gaming Control Act Regulation.

Sandy Garossino, co-founder of Vancouver Not Vegas, says “this project has all the earmarks of a financial fiasco. Incredibly, the public knows even less about the Edgewater Casino proposal today than it did in 2010. Once again PavCo has announced a done deal to the public, only this time without even the courtesy of telling us what we are committed to.”

PavCo was going to lease the land to Paragon for $6 million per year.  In September 2012, the Vancouver Sun reported that PavCo expects to reduce the rent to $3 million a year.  The current proposal does not reflect the highest and best use of the site.  Nor does it provide any indication of any return to the City.

Coalition spokesman, Ian Pitfield, says “no disclosure has ever been made to the public detailing what’s proposed now, nor has any community input been sought as required by the Gaming Act and the Regulation. Nobody knows what’s planned for the site, whether the City will lose money on it, how much public money will go into building it, or whether and how much the taxpayer will subsidize leases on public land.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the action.

For background on the original petition, click here.

Media contact:
Ian Pitfield at 604-828-5494
ihp@pitfield.com

– 30 –

Gambling away our cities: experts demonstrate that casinos don’t bring prosperity

addiction to slot machines in casinos a serious social problem

Here is the full text of “Gambling away our cities: Why New Yorkers must fight the drive to legalize full-scale gaming” by Richard Florida in the New York Daily News, Nov. 25, 2012.

We are reprinting it here in its entirety because it is an extremely useful resource for any community fighting casinos. It is well-researched and cites numerous credible analysts who all conclude that both economically and socially, casinos bring only poverty. That is, not just for individuals but for whole cities.

Cities, be warned! Full text:

Early in September, Sheldon Adelson, the 79-year-old founder of The Sands (and a lavish political donor — he contributed more than $50 million to help Mitt Romney and other Republicans get elected), announced that Madrid will be home to a massive EuroVegas gambling and entertainment complex. When construction is completed in about 10 years, there will be six casinos with 18,000 slot machines and a dozen hotels with 36,000 rooms.

Adelson would like to do something similar in New York City, on the site of the Jacob K. Javits Center on the West Side. As New York State begins the process of amending its constitution to allow up to seven new full-scale private casinos, eager gaming interests have flooded the state with lobbying money and campaign contributions, according to a report by Common Cause New York.

In Miami, the Genting Group — the same Malaysian company that operates the casino at Aqueduct — has proposed a $3 billion plus city-within-a-city on the site of the Miami Herald building, which it has already purchased for $236 million. The project would include two condo towers, four luxury hotels, 50 restaurants, 60 luxury shops and a yacht marina.

Casinos have either been built or proposed in Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Boston, Toronto and countless other cities across the United States and the world.

This “casinoization” of just about everywhere has been going on for some time. Three decades ago, only three American cities — Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City — had casinos. Today, gambling is legal in more than 40 states, and roughly 2,000 gambling venues can be found across America.

Continue reading

Editorial cartoons on gambling and casinos by B.C.’s Adrian Raeside

gambling cartoons, Canadian

Adrian Raeside has produced some of the best cartoons on the topic of gambling, casinos and the government. A long-time political cartoonist in British Columbia, he is much loved here. Cartoons via here, here and here.

If you have links to to other cartoons on this topic, could you alert us (and our readers) in the comments? Thanks!

state gambling and casinos spoofed by British Columbia's political cartoonist Raeside

The cartoon below is specific to B.C., where gambling was expanded only with the promise that charities/arts would receive 33% of its revenue. Charities only ever received 10% at best, even though in exchange for the 33% they were forced to advocate on behalf of casino companies’ applications to build new casinos all over the province. In 2009 they received massive govt cuts to that 10%, cuts that contravened the 1997 Memorandum of Agreement and thus illegal. The minister at the time was Rich Coleman of the BC Liberals. The cartoon also makes reference to the habit of gambling addicts of leaving their children in the car for hours. Many casinos employ someone to check parking lots for children abandoned in cars.

state gambling and casinos spoofed by British Columbia's political cartoonist Raeside

Dave Meslin on citizen engagement – TED video

The TED video above, both funny and brilliant, demonstrates that citizens aren’t actually apathetic, they’re just victims of “constructed apathy”—intentional exclusion from political processes.  Dave Meslin reveals our misunderstanding of what “heroism” is—that in actual fact, heroes aren’t chosen. Heroism is voluntary, messy, imperfect, and born of collective need not isolated individual action. His description of how City Halls hide development plan notices in the back of publications is quite comic.