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Did Rich Coleman tell the truth about BCLC and Paragon?

Tomorrow, April 9th, is the date city sponsored hearings resume on Paragon’s zoning application for a new casino at BC Place Casino. One of the important issues is the process for selection of the casino in PavCo’s quick step RFP process. Was the process fair or did the BC Liberal government grease the wheels for Paragon from the start?

A year ago, in the legislature gaming minister Rich Coleman claimed that no work was done by the BC Lottery Corporation in advance of the BC Pavilion Corporation’s March 2009 Request for Expressions of Interest.

It’s an important claim because any due diligence on the part of PavCo and BCLC would have given Paragon a leg up in what is supposed to be a fair process with the same starting line for all potential proponents.

Here’s what Coleman told Gaming critic Shane Simpson in the Legislature April 15, 2010:

“Through the process, the lottery corporation wasn’t involved at all. The RFP went out. The proponents would make their submissions. PavCo would then enter into a memorandum of understanding with who they thought the selected proponent was. At that point they would ask the lottery corporation for some confirmation of some financial data or of the proponent, and that’s the only involvement they would have.

“They weren’t involved in the process to design the RFP, do the RFP, say who could go, what type of business would go there — none of that. “

New documents released by the BC Lottery Corporation to BC Place critic Spencer Chandra Herbert raise serious questions about Coleman’s claim. They appear to show BCLC had a much greater interest in the process than Coleman let on, meeting to discuss Paragon right after the city vote on the BC Place redevelopment proposal in November of 2008.

More importantly, that was followed up with a January 30th meeting between BCLC President Michael Graydon and BCLC Vice President responsible for casino development Darryl Schiewe and BC Pavilion Corporation Chair David Podmore and CEO Warren Buckley in the Vancouver Convention Centre Development project boardroom. That’s two months before the Request for Expressions of Interest was issued.

BCLC had and still has only two business interests in the City of Vancouver – Paragon and Hastings Racetrack. The racetrack is of no interest to Pavco, so that leaves one topic of discussion at that January 2009 meeting.

Kevin Gass or some other representative of BCLC is likely to be at City Hall Tuesday night. Why not ask him to come clean. Because the minister responsible apparently didn’t.

This was first published on Ian Reid's The Real Story blog.

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