No dice: Vancouver mega-casino voted down
Darcy Wintonyk and Bethany Lindsay, ctvbc.ca
Published Tuesday, April 19, 2011 5:24PM PDT
A controversial proposal that would see B.C.'s largest gambling complex installed on Vancouver's waterfront was unanimously shot down by city council Tuesday afternoon.
Calling the project a "bad fit for Vancouver," Mayor Gregor Robertson spearheaded the charge to vote down the $500-million expansion and relocation of the Edgewater Casino.
Robertson also called for a moratorium on "any or all applications to expand current gaming" during the council meeting.
The vote brings to an end eight days and nights of heated debate over the gaming project.
Paragon Gaming, the BC Lottery Corporation and the BC Pavilion Corporation all pushed for the city to approve plans for the new facility next to BC Place, just east of the Cambie Street Bridge.
Under the original plans, the casino would be three times the size of the existing facility, and would have at least 600 additional slot machines.
Earlier this month, PavCo said it would be unable to pay for the new $564-million roof and repairs at BC Place stadium if the casino proposal was rejected.
But Chairman David Podmore said after the vote Tuesday that the decision will not impact construction of the new roof.
"The roof is fully budgeted at the present time and it will proceed and be completed as planned," he told reporters.
He added that he is not yet ready to say how PavCo will repay a $150-million provincial loan for the ambitious retractable roof project.
"It's a very detailed response from council, so we need time to examine that response," Podmore said, adding that he will meet with provincial officials in coming days.
In a statement, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell said that the province respects the city's decision.
"I have directed PavCo to work with Vancouver council and the community to ensure that any future decisions are in alignment with what the community wants," he said.
A coalition of anti-gaming groups and social agencies lobbied against the casino proposal, saying the city would see an increase in gambling addiction if the proposal went through.
Sandy Garossino of the group "Vancouver not Vegas" told reporters she was "terribly relieved" by council's decision to reject the proposal.
"We didn't have any expectations coming in. We've been hearing rumours, but the only thing that really matters is what happens in the council room," she said.
Paragon says it is now looking at a new location for the Edgewater.