These are the facts: Whatever Premier Campbell has said, whatever PavCo has said, an expanded casino at B.C. Place stadium has never been discussed or approved by Vancouver City Council.
The current City Council agreed on Oct. 22, 2009 that a casino was an approved use at B.C. Place (there’s already one across the street). BUT nowhere in the Oct. 22/09 policy statement was there any discussion about an expanded casino. The size of the casino was never debated.
The staff recommendation to amend the False Creek North Official Development Plan, approved at a Sept. 16, 2008 council meeting, made no mention of an expanded casino. Nor does the word “casino” appear anywhere in the minutes of the Sept. 16 meeting, or in the minutes of an Oct. 18 public hearing following it.
At the Oct. 18, 2008 meeting, in the heat of an election campaign, Council unanimously approved allowing “city- and region-serving cultural, recreational and institutional uses including consideration of the Vancouver Art Gallery as a use, generally as set out in Appendix A.”
Only in Appendix A do the words “expanded casino” appear, without any reference to the major policy change this entails, or definition of “expanded casino” or further discussion of this major change in city policy. The words in the appendix are: “Council may allow sub-area zonings to include other cultural and recreational facilities, including a major art gallery and a major casino that will also serve the city and region.”
Those zonings would have to be referred to a public hearing before becoming policy.
This in no way constitutes council approval for an expanded casino.
UPDATE: Councillor Woodsworth’s motion to Vancouver City Council was passed! The motion essentially calls for a postponement of gaming expansion in Vancouver until there’s been proper inquiry into gambling irregularities and cuts to charities, all of which have an impact on the City of Vancouver. The motion was finally presented to City Council at about 11 pm on Tuesday, January 18 in the Vancouver City Council chambers. After members of our coalition and others spoke in support of the motion, Coun. Woodsworth’s motion passed nearly unanimously.
**Please note that Woodsworth’s motion was amended slightly before being passed; the finalized motion is below.**
Note: When this motion was first introduced into Council in mid-January, many councillors did speak out against gambling or asked pointed questions. Some felt this marks a genuine change of heart in Vision and beyond; others claim it was merely political theatre on the part of Council, aimed at PavCo and Paragon Gaming as a way of extracting more concessions from them. Time will tell but two things are clear; strong public citizen opposition will be necessary if we are going to defeat this casino expansion; and that with that strong opposition, we can defeat this casino expansion.
Something we keep hearing in this fight against the massive expansion of the Edgewater Casino is that “it’s on BC government-owned land, so the City of Vancouver can’t stop it.”
Not true. Very much not true.
PavCo (short for BC Pavilion Corporation), the BC government’s crown corporation, is not free to do anything it likes. It is subject to Vancouver city processes and regulations like everyone else. It must go through the rezoning application process for the casino (which is currently much smaller and more hidden away) and it must go through the application process for gaming expansion in Vancouver city limits.
Please see the Memorandum of Agreement on Gaming Policy Between: The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and The Government of British Columbia (the Province).
It’s interesting reading.
In it, the province affirms municipal jurisdiction over land use and gaming licenses, and explicitly agrees to abide by local government decisions.
This massive casino expansion smack in the middle of our downtown is not a done deal, and it must not be rubber-stamped by City Councl just because the City is being bullied by the Province. If you want to learn more about why the City of Vancouver is having trouble saying no to the province, read on or look at this excellent series of investigative articles on the Edgewater expansion by the Vancouver Observer.