Over 200 people showed up to Vancouver City Hall last night to have their say on the proposed expanded casino next to BC Place, and after hearing from the applicants and staff only a handful of union representatives had the opportunity at press time.
Council voted to extend the hearing an hour, yet after hearing from the applicants — Paragon Gaming, PavCo and the B.C. Lottery Corporation — and city hall staff, there was only enough time to hear from a handful of citizens all union representatives who spoke in favour of the casino proposal.
Outside council chambers a rowdy overflow crowd of over 100 people sat and stood watching the proceedings, Mayor Robertson requested respect for the applicants several times.
"This is an important debate, I respect it," said David Podmore, head of PavCo — the government company that owns the land next to BC Place.
Vocal anti-casino protesters outnumbered two-to-one a group of about 50 Edgewater casino employees all wearing yellow T-shirts with the slogan “Save Our Jobs.”
“In 2013 our lease is up at our current location and if this project does not go through approval by the city that means 600-plus employees are out of work,” said CAW 300 spokeswoman and Edgewater PR representative Lesley Harris.
Many protesters rallied out front of city hall before the hearing under the banner “Vancouver Not Vegas.”
Proposal critic and renowned architect Bing Thom said outside city hall, “The government has become addicted to the gambling revenues, [to them] it's easy money."
Councillors were critical of these projected revenues in their questioning of the applicant’s numbers.
Council also critiqued the lack of weight the applicants put on the social problems the expanded casino might bring and BCLC president Michael Graydon admitted the BCLC has no ability to ascertain spending habits of problem gamblers in casinos.