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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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
Video via here.
Posted in Edgewater Casino
Tagged anti-casino, BC government, BC Lottery Corp, BC Pavilion Corporation, BCLC, boondoggle, business plan, mega-casino, no transparency, Paragon Gaming, PavCo, Vancouver casino, video, Vision Vancouver
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.
Above, before Edgewater mega-casino (and before the white stadium roof was replaced by spiky retractable roof). In the photo directly above, you can see the existing Edgewater casino which occupies the green glass building in the forefront, also known as the Plaza of Nations built for Expo ’86. The City plans to allow the demolition of this glass building. The new Edgewater Casino has triple the capacity of the current operation.
Below, planned Edgewater mega-casino butted up against the Cambie bridge end of BC Place Stadium. It looks as if the huge stadium girders have been downplayed in these drawings. Don’t be fooled; it’s enormous. It only looks modest because it’s adjacent to a massive stadium.
A picture is worth a thousand words. What are yours? Write the Mayor and Council and tell them what you think. Public hearings are this Thursday, Feb. 17, sometime after 7:30 pm, so don’t delay.
Democracy consists, unfortunately, in citizens showing up to meetings. Sad fact, but true!
Please join us:
Chinese Cultural Centre in Chinatown (Stadium-Chinatown skytrain station)
7 pm, Wednesday February 9
(See the Facebook event page)
50 East Pender Street between Carrall and Columbia
(travel instructions to the site, click the link above)
Please come out. You will have fun, meet a mix of people, and feel good about helping us demonstrate our numbers. Bring your ideas and your concerns about the proposed Edgewater mega-casino.
If we approve this mega-casino in Vancouver—if this public land is effectively given away to a sketchy Vegas company on an endless 70 year lease—we will never be able to get rid of it. Is this the image we want for Vancouver, internationally? No other major Canadian city has put a casino in its downtown core, or even close to residential areas. Once we go down this path, we can’t turn around. They don’t just want to put this casino in our downtown, they want to make this the biggest casino in Western Canada, and to have it built by a company that has only ever built truck stop, highway-side, trailer park casinos. The City of Vancouver has not done studies that indicate what the true economic costs of a casino are, but they easily make up a sum in the millions. And for what, $17 million a year? That’s not enough of an inducement for Vancouver – that’s a pittance in the City budget. This is a bad idea. Come out and have your say.
Vancouver will only be forced to make the right decision if the citizens of Vancouver show up and get involved.
Posted in Edgewater Casino
Tagged BC Lottery Corp, BCLC, City of Vancouver, David Podmore, democracy, Edgewater, gambling, gaming expansion, mega-casino, Minister Coleman, Paragon Gaming, PavCo, public forum, public meeting, Rich Coleman
Photo: Dennis Tsang To learn more about the actual relationship between the stadium roof and the mega-casino, read this series of articles in the Vancouver Observer. Paragon, a Vegas casino company, was awarded the contract to build and operate the mega-casino in a very iffy bid process. It was awarded the contract by BC Pavilion Corp—a crown corporation known as PavCo which owns the land next between BC Place and the Cambie bridge. See here. Rumour has it that that Paragon told BC Liberal minister Kevin Krueger last year that without a retractable roof on the stadium, Paragon would refuse to build the mega-casino because supposedly without the draw of a retractable stadium roof, the stadium wouldn’t attract enough clientele to the casino. As for the mega-casino, this is a process that has been occurred very much under the radar of most Vancouverites who are unaware of what’s coming: a new development three times the size of the original Edgewater Casino currently located in an inconspicious spot on the other side of the stadium. City Hall has been strangely silent on the issue of this massive gambling expansion, considering that the BC government application to the city to expand gambling within our city limits will soon be before Council.
Stadium roof scandal?
Some are saying that the retractable roof, one of the most expensive in the world, will cost twice the public estimate, and apparently engineers are not even sure that the underlying structure will support the roof in all conditions. At the very least, the City must get a full independent seismic assessment before granting the rezoning. And that’s not the only thing that City Council should be demanding of the provincial government before it negotiates further with them. Before Vancouver considers the government’s applications to expand gaming in Vancouver and to rezone the new casino site for a mega-development, the City needs to get the provincial government’s assurance that it will actually meet its legal obligations to hand over 1/3 of gaming revenues to BC’s charities and non-profits. (If the BC govt had honoured their 1999 Memorandum of Agreement, a legal document, they would have paid BC’s crucial charities and non-profits $1.3 bn more than they did; that amount is now in arrears). Both the City and Minister Coleman need to start coming clean about these developments.
Posted in Edgewater Casino
Tagged BC Place, City Council, City of Vancouver, Edgewater Casino, Kevin Krueger, mega-casino, Minister Rich Coleman, retractable roof, rezoning, stadium, Vancouver Observer
The current Edgewater Casino is quietly slated for a location move and then a massive expansion in our downtown core, right near the BC Place Stadium. This could happen within a matter of weeks. It will put the casino adjacent to all of the high-end dense living of False Creek and Yaletown, not to mention adjacent to the Downtown Eastside, already plagued by crime and addictions.
Massive casinos, which are generally not found in the downtown cores of other North American cities, other than Vegas, attract endless undesirable social problems: crime, loan sharks, addiction. They are not socially palatable. Nor will this mega-casino complex be architecturally palatable – it will be designed and built by Vegas. It’s not even going out to architectural competition – its design has already been proposed and it’s hideous. We have already had an ugly, expensive and impractical stadium roof foisted upon us by the BC Liberals government; now we will be subjected to this massive gambling expansion unless we speak up. The province has bullied Vancouver enough. City Hall, start standing up to the bullies! What cards are they holding that you fold so easily?
Write to the mayor and city council! Tell them how you feel about this scheme which is very quickly and very quietly being pushed through City Hall by the BC provincial government.
Also note: gambling expansion has been pushed throughout BC with the excuse that it pays for our crucial non-profit and charity sectors. Despite laws legislating this, it has never been done. Money from the casinos is being used to fill in the gap left by the government’s own economic policies.
Please be heard!
Don’t let them gamble Vancouver’s liveability away.