FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: vancouver not vegas says new casino plan should go to public hearing
November 28, 2011
Vancouver Not Vegas group calls on Vancouver City Council to delay approving the casino relocation bylaw pending a court ruling on the bylaw validity and full public disclosure of the relocated casino plans.
[See Council agenda for Tuesday November 29
Sandy Garossino says “Paragon Gaming made it clear from the outset that the relocation and expansion applicationwas an all-or-nothing deal and there was no business case for a relocation alone. Under the Gaming Control Act, a relocation alone is effectively a new application which requires public consultation of the new plan”.
Lindsay Brown says “The public has been told we will have a mega-casino in the downtown residential core, but Council has effectively left the door wide open for the developer to build one by approving a relocation without requiring an amended plan to be submitted. We still have an approval in principle of 2 NFL football fields of casino floor, and tens of millions of dollars in public subsidy with no public disclosure and public hearing.”
“Council consistently treated this application as a re-zoning matter, and has not recognized the requirements of provincial legislation governing decisions around gaming licenses,” adds retired justice Ian Pitfield, a coalition supporter and retired BC Supreme Court judge. “The community was not provided with any particulars of the relocation proposal. It was only told about an expansion.”
Please see our previous press release regarding our legal petition to quash the relocation clause:
Sandy Garossino 778-231-5230
Lindsay Brown 604-313-7744
Ian Pitfield 604-828-5494
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Vancouver, November 14, 2011
Vancouver Not Vegas! Co-founder Launches Petition to Halt Casino Move to BC Place
Vancouver Not Vegas Co-Founder Lindsay Brown has filled a petition in BC Supreme Court seeking to overturn the decision by Vancouver City Council approving the relocation of Edgewater Casino to BC Place Stadium.
“To this day the people of Vancouver still have no idea of what is being planned for the casino development on the BC Place Stadium site, yet Council has essentially written Paragon and PavCo a blank cheque by approving the relocation,” says Vancouver Not Vegas co-founder Lindsay Brown.” Once again plans are being made behind closed doors at City Hall, apparently to be dropped on the public when it’s too late for us to have a voice, but this time Council has granted its approval in advance. The BC Place site is a Vancouver landmark affecting thousands of residents, and we don’t know what’s happening there. We need to be part of the discussion this time around – if there is a “this time around.” ”
“Council consistently treated this application as a re-zoning matter, and has not recognized the requirements of provincial legislation governing decisions around gaming licenses,” adds retired justice Ian Pitfield, a coalition supporter. “The community was not provided with any particulars of the relocation proposal. It was only told about an expansion.”
During the public hearings in the spring of 2011, Paragon Gaming, the owners of Edgewater Casino, strongly stated that relocation without an expansion of their license was not an acceptable solution, and offered no amended plan for the public or Council to review. Council voted to approve only the relocation of the Edgewater Casino against the applicant’s wishes and without public consultation respecting any revisions. The City has not complied with the Gaming Control Act and Regulations.
Lindsay Brown and Ian Pitfield
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Vancouver, September 30, 2011
Vancouver Not Vegas Calls For a Review of the Financing of the BC Place Stadium Upgrade and Roof Construction
Vancouver Not Vegas calls for a Review of the financing of the BC Place Stadium up grade and roof construction.
“We don’t know the reason the provincial government departed from the normal practice of securing substantial private sector funding for a project of this nature, and chose to under-write all costs,” says Sandy Garossino, co-founder of Vancouver Not Vegas. “But the timeline of events strongly suggests that the government found the necessary capital for the retractable roof option by instituting devastating cuts to charities and non-profits.”
Major urban stadiums are normally funded primarily through private sector contributions.
• Toronto’s SkyDome was 16% publicly funded, 31 corporations funded the balance;
• Cowboy Stadium in Dallas was 28% publicly funded following a public referendum, with the teams and corporate sponsors providing the balance.
• BC Place Stadium is 100% publicly funded. There has been no disclosure of the business plan supporting this level of public investment.
In the summer of 2009 the provincial cabinet was struggling with cost containment on the stadium roof, because estimates had nearly tripled from when the project was first proposed only one year earlier.
Liberal donor, former BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) chair and Edgewater representative Richard Turner threatened to withdraw Edgewater’s participation if cabinet did not approve the retractable roof.
In this same period Rich Coleman was minister responsible for BCLC and for gaming grant distribution. He moved in the summer of 2009 to seize $36 million in budgeted and committed gaming grants, and institute long-term cuts that would provide another $200 million over 6 years to the government.
“The public needs to know that financing of the roof construction was conducted in a responsible manner that best serves the interests of all British Columbians province-wide. Until these questions are answered, it seems that financing decisions were driven by the interests of Liberal donors and the Edgewater Casino,” says Lindsay Brown, co-founder of Vancouver Not Vegas.
For more information on the stadium roof, its history and financing, please see our stadium roof post and a detailed timeline.
Premier Clark: Do You Really Put Families First?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Vancouver Not Vegas organization calls on Premier Clark to immediately suspend expensive advertising campaigns for the BC Lottery Corporation and invest that money in the Vancouver Children’s Festival and almost 1,500 other BC charities that are on the brink of failure from cuts in gaming grants and other government funding.
June 3, 2011, Vancouver: The Vancouver Children’s Festival struggled to open its 2011 season this week due to government cutbacks. Just two weeks before its opening, the festival was informed of a further 50% cut in its gaming grant. The Children’s Festival has educated, inspired and entertained more than 1.6 million children in BC since 1978. It is the latest in a long list of BC charities and non-profits that face imminent closure. The Kelowna Women’s Resource Centre has already closed its doors. Why are we spending money on expensive marketing and advertising campaigns for the BC Lottery Corporation when vital community organizations that really put “families first” are dying?
We call on Premier Clark to take urgent action on her “Families First” agenda and save our vital community institutions today. We ask Premier Clark, as an emergency measure, to immediately suspend all BC Lottery Corporation marketing and advertising and divert that budget to charities and non-profits facing closure, pending the outcome of the upcoming gaming review. Vancouver Not Vegas further asks Premier Clark to order the BC Lottery Corporation to disclose its marketing and advertising budget to the public that pays for it.
“With the Stanley Cup finals upon us, we anticipate a massive BC Lottery Corporation marketing blitz,” says Sandy Garossino, a Vancouver businesswoman and co-founder of Vancouver Not Vegas. “Let’s show that we’re serious about supporting communities and get our priorities straight. Casinos should pay for their own advertising. The taxpayer should not subsidize private enterprise while charities that serve the public are left to starve.”
“The expansion of gambling in BC has only hurt the non-profit sector. The greater the BC Lottery Corporation revenue, the worse it gets for charities,” says Susan Marsden, president of the BC Association for Charitable Gaming. “The situation is now extreme. Gambling revenues are at historic highs, while almost 1500 BC charities are on the brink of closing their doors. We are more concerned now that this year’s budget calls for even further cuts to gaming grants.” Lindsay Brown, co-founder of the Vancouver Not Vegas coalition, agrees. “The public was assured that if gambling were expanded, significant revenues would be directed to the charities and non-profits that serve communities. That promise was broken and now families and communities are taking the hit.”
In addition to the Children’s Festival, cuts to gaming grants have affected programs that support brain injury survivors, services to families of the Canadian Armed Forces servicemen and women, support for seniors and youth at risk, as well as transportation of sick children to hospitals and treatment centres across BC.
Full media release here.
April 10, 2011 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BCLC/PavCo/Paragon Gaming’s last-minute changes to proposed mega-casino a sign of desperation, says Vancouver, Not Vegas!
April 10, Vancouver, BC: Paragon Gaming’s offer to reduce the number of slots at its proposed mega-casino, made Sunday at Vancouver City Council after the public hearings had ended, is a cynical gambit that smacks of desperation, says Vancouver, Not Vegas!, a coalition of diverse groups and individuals that opposes the casino plan.
“It’s pretty disingenuous of Paragon to try to make the offer of a few hundred fewer slot machines a game changer in this important issue,” said Vancouver Not Vegas! Coalition spokesperson Sandy Garossino.
David Podmore, Chairman of B.C. Pavilion Corp. (PavCo), proposed to Council late Sunday evening the idea of reducing the number of slots to 1200 from 1500. Paragon would then later apply to council for an additional 300. PavCo, a B.C. Crown corporation, owns the land where the casino would be built.
“Not only have they introduced this after the public hearing sessions ended yesterday, effectively shutting out people from commenting on what is still a move towards expansion, but they are also ignoring the fact that any material change in plans must be dealt with in a new application as per British Columbia Gaming Control Act requirements,” Garossino said.
The offer of an expanded gaming facility with fewer slots does not address the many fundamental questions still left unanswered by Paragon, BCLC and PavCo about associated casino issues such as increased addictions, criminal activity, liveable neighbourhoods and the overall quality of life in Vancouver.
Lindsay Brown, a coalition co-founder who also oversees its social media, said the huge volume of feedback on the Vancouver, Not Vegas! website plus the support received by the Coalition on Twitter shows that the public is extremely angered by the casino issue in general and the eleventh-hour change in particular. “I have received e-mailed letters from people whose lives have been devastated by gambling – people who normally would never get involved in an issue like this. I’ve seen tweets from people who say the last-minute changes are completely cosmetic and will have no effect. This has really mobilized Vancouverites who care about their city.”
“This is still all about what kind of Vancouver we really want”, added Garossino. “Vancouver City Council needs to know that this latest “offer” is blatantly offside. We reject it.”
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PavCo’s claim that a rejection of an expanded casino complex will make it unable to pay for BC Place roof is a strong-arm tactic, says group opposed to casino project
Vancouver, February 25, 2011 – The BC Pavilion Corp.’s threat that a rejection of an expanded casino at BC Place would leave the Crown corporation unable to pay for the stadium’s new roof is tantamount to bullying, says Sandy Garossino, a spokesperson for Vancouver, Not Vegas, a coalition that rejects an expanded casino that would form part of a new complex at the stadium. The group seeks an end to expanded gaming in Vancouver.
“PavCo has rolled the dice on the most liveable city in the world by making this deal with Paragon Gaming Corp.,” she said. “The people of Vancouver have never been consulted. This expanded casino is not in keeping with what has made this city great.”
PavCo and Paragon are strong-arming the people of Vancouver, said Garossino. “This is an eleventh-hour attempt by PavCo, Paragon and the BC Lottery Corp. to pressure the public into accepting a terrible idea. This is the result of their own failure to be open and honest with the public from the beginning.”
PavCo chairman David Podmore said in a published report that if the proposed hotel and expanded casino complex, which would see the addition of 1,500 more slot machines, is not approved, it would have no way to pay the roof’s $563-million costs. PavCo gave Paragon a 70-year lease for land adjacent to the stadium, where it proposed a huge complex that would include a casino, two hotels and retail and other space. It would be the largest gambling location in Western Canada.
“The people of Vancouver have never been consulted on whether they want this expanded casino,” said Peter Ladner, a former City Councillor and a supporter of the coalition. He said plenty of research supports public disdain for casinos because of the increased crime, addiction and other social problems linked with gambling. “This is not just a relocation and minor expansion,” said Ladner. “It is a transformation of the culture of our city that repels, disgusts and frightens an unprecedented array of people across the city”.
The Vancouver Not Vegas! coalition, their supporters, and many concerned Vancouverites will be at Vancouver City Hall on March 7 to speak against the rezoning application for an expanded casino at the BC Place site from Paragon Gaming. The coalition will be asking that Paragon’s application for rezoning be rejected and that a moratorium be declared on any future expansion of gambling in the City of Vancouver.