10:10 -- Brian Middleton, first speaker comes up. He started working for casinos 25 yrs ago. He speaks in support of the casino and questions why charities and sports programs are funded through gambling, and not government.
10:12 -- Susan Spratt, representing the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW) Edgewater Bargaining, talks about how she is not convinced that the expanded casino will increase crime or problem gambling in Vancouver. She says the increase of bars has not led to an increase of alcoholics in BC, and that urges City Council to remember that gambing is merely a form of social interaction for most people who enter the casino. She talks about the benefits of having 1500 new jobs in construction and having two new hotels in the city.
People who work at the casino get health benefits if they work over 20hrs a week at the casino.
[Meggs asks Spratt if managers have told her that jobs and benefits would be under threat if relocation were approved, but expansion was not. Spratt says this was not discussed.
Meggs asks if jobs will be secure if only the relocation happens but not expansion. Spratt answers that there is a concern of casino closure, and says that jobs are not secure.]
Anton asks the skill level required to work at an entry-level job at the casino. Spratt answers that a Grade 12 education is required, but that the casino will help new employees acquire training and education to meet the equivalency.
Anton asks about the casino hiring from the DTES. "It's had its bumps, it's had its ups and donwns," she says, but insists that it has been successful. Spratt says there are 50 employees from the DTES currently working at the casino. Councillor Chow asks if the casino is losing money. Spratt says they have never lost money, but that there is great uncertainty, and that this makes it difficult for the union members to bargain with employers. She says the Edgewater and PavCo have already said the current Edgewater casino cannot move.
10:30 - Alan Foster references a radio interview with Burnaby and Coquitlam mayors and says that the mayors insist there has been no increase in crime since casinos were built, and that there has been no increased drain on police resources. Foster insists that the new casino is "not a megacasino" and notes that a small town like Niagara Falls has 4500 slot machines. He says money should be made off gamblers to help Vancouver achieve its green goals.
Stevenson asks about money laundering, saying "I'm very concerned that you almost seem flippant about it." He talks about being in New Zealand recently, and the front page of the Auckland newspaper talking about the huge problem of money-laundering by Asian gangs. Foster replies that money laundering is a big problem, but that stopping casino expansion is not going to reduce that problem.
Jang presses about money laundering. He mentions that casino workers are trained every two years to recognize money laundering, but asks what else is specifically done to prevent money laundering.
"The rules (for preventing money laundering) are so strict, so strict...they're rigidly enforced," insists Foster. Jang replies that money laundering has occurred despite the strict rules, and asks what else is being done to prevent money laundering. Foster asks Jang to talk to BCLC for that.
10:40 - Jessica Wadsworth mentions that she is a single parent, and says she strongly opposes casino expansion. She talks about her experience being assaulted by a homeless woman, and about Vancouver needing to address street safety before working on casino expansion. She says she worked with troubled youth, and has seen how gambling addiction has destroyed their families. "If the streets already have problems we have yet to address, I can't imaging what an expanded casino will bring tot he downtown core."
10:45 -- Bill McCreery talks about a scene in a casino of a young woman on her knees, grasping her husband's trousers and begging him to stop gambling and to come home to his children. He says Councillor Meggs had clarified earlier that the casino was not a major consideration for workers in the construction industry, and that jobs would be created by different means anyway. He proposes the alternative of an "exclusive boutique casino-hotel" that caters to VIP gamblers from overseas, such that there are fewer gamblers with deeper pockets making more money for the city.
10:55 -- Rob Gervan says he has worked in casino industry for 25 years and enjoys his job. He talks about how the word "expansion" is misinterpreted, and that considering how many tables Vancouver used to have in the past, Edgewater is like a reallocation of gambling tables that were lost.
11:00 -- Angelo Ma, an Edgewater casino employee, talks about how he went from a minimum-wage job with no prospects to a human resources coordinator at Edgewater. He says the job swtich has made his parents proud, and has given him faith that he can be a positive contributing member of society.
11:02 -- Montana Parnont says she came on a work permit from Thailand, and talked about her initial difficulties finding a job due to her lack of English-speaking abilities. She says after finding employment with Edgewater 10 years ago, she is able to be a financially stable single mother in one of the most expensive cities in North America.
11:05 -- David Bornman, a pastor who works with gambling addicts, talks about having a call from an excavator who had a gambling problem whose marriage had disintegrated. He says problem gamblers are just a small percentage of the gamblers, but that 30-50 percent of casino revenue comes from problem gamblers. He says as a young city, Vancouver can learn from older cities, and says that casinos are never mentioned as an asset to a city.
He questions casinos giving to charities, saying charity is something selflessly given, and how money generated by peoples' losses and reallocated by a board through grant applications should not be considered the same as "charity".
Jang asks how much of casino revenues are really from problem gamblers. Bornman says Colin Campbell has done reserach on this, and that while only 4 percent of people in the city are addicts, 30 - 50 percent of revenue comes from these addicts.
Bornman talks about how the criminal code says that a facility has to be owned in the province to be prosecuted, and how a casino owned in the US will pose problems for the US.
11:15 -- Clay Braziller says he is here on behalf of a friend from Gamblers Anonymous. "No one from Gamblers Anonymous will talk. They're members of the community and afraid," he says. He talks about a childhood friend who almost lost everything to gambling, who currently runs Gamblers Anonymous. He says he blacklisted himself all the time, and how he was able to get into casinos every time. He says he researched extensively online to see if there are positive effects of gambling to a city, and says that all studies showed that casinos were detrimental to a city.
11:20 -- Councillor Woodsworth asks how successful Gamblers Annonymous has been in helping people overcome gambling addiction. Braziller replies that most people struggle with it for the rest of their lives, avoiding cruise ship tours and other occasions that would result in a relapse to problem gambling.
11:25 -- Andy Yan, Vancouver, Not Vegas! representative, talks about a casino downtown would not set the correct tone for Vancouver, calls casinos "by definition, a narcissistic drain on the city's resources" which will bring only limited benefits to the city's downtown businesses.
Yan talks about the struggles of Edgewater employees and asks the city to have a comprehensive job strategy to increase options for people find stable employment.
He says, with "promises of easy money and a potentially vindictive provincial government," it will take courage to reject the casino."
11:33 -- Jang asks Yan if a casino will have no benefit to Chinatown and other areas. Yan says he has worked in cities like Reno and he knows that people come to casinos and stay inside, not bringing business to surrounding areas. Jang references past speakers who have insisted that the casino expansion is rather modest, and would not result in a "megacasino" and asks what Yan thinks. Yan responds that the expanded casino would be the largest casino in Vancouver, and asks what the limit should be.
Jang talks about his recent trip to Macao, and talks about Macao culture, how casinos have enlivened the city's culture and street life.
11:40 -- Petronella Vander Velk quotes Dr. John Carsley that gambling most negatively affects Aboriginal and low-income people. She talks about how Aboriginal population is concentrated in Northeast area of city, and how this makes them vulnerable to negative effects of gambling. She says it would be wrong for "greedy, foreign corporations" to take money out of the city and asks City Council to reject the expansion.
11:45 -- Ned Jacobs speaks out against the casino, talks about the failed municipal casinos in the US and says that casinos are not "producers" of revenue for Vancouver.
11:50 -- Manuel Alvernaz (CSWU) talks about how the casino would generate jobs for Vancouverites.
11:52 -- Ray Dujardin says those who speak in support are mainly concerned about their current employment and how he is more concerned about the future of his children and grandchildren. He talks about a 2003 Ipsos Reid poll in Vancouver asking if they wanted a casino, and most people said they were against new casinos. He questions the nature of studies done since then with regard to caisnos, and talks about how the casino would "make a mockery" of former Premier Campbell's green goals.
11:55 -- Joyce Thayer expresses opposition to proposed casino, saying "development is a pig, no matter how much lipstick you put on it." She talks about her avid support for sports, and talks about the proximity of a casino near B.C. Place would make it not suitable for families coming to enjoy a sports event. She says onus is on Paragon to prove that no increase in problem gamblers will result from a casino expansion, but that the company has not succeeded at convincing the public of this.
12:00 -- 90-year-old Eleanor Hadley, who describes herself as "blind and deaf" and having many disabilities, "Canada is at a crossroads between good and evil," she says. She asks the Councillors to "protect Vancouver from US, Las Vegas-style casinos," and says talks about one casino like this will attract other casinos. Mario Lee is sitting next to her, looking at her from time to time. She says she is sympathetic to the workers at Edgewater but hopes that they can seek employment elsewhere.
12:10 -- Diana Smith says none of her acquaintences support the casino, and how she was compelled to come forward to express her view to the media. Smith says since the first meeting, no gambler has come forward to speak in support of the casino, and suggests that people are "ashamed" fo the activity. "Nobody says, I'm a gambler...people say 'I'm a Canucks fan,' but no one will say I'm a gambler, except at a Gamblers Anonymous meeting."
She brings up a glossy flyer in the Courier for the Edgewater casino mentions the 132 private police members and security cameras, saying it resembles a "jail".
12:15 -- Mike Dumler of COPE speaks out against the casino and challenges the claim that the new casino would not be a megacasino. "It's double the current casino. How big does it have to get?" Talks about a University of Lethbridge study talking about how a high percentage of casino revenue comes from the 4.8 percent of problem gamblers, saying that 39 percent of gambling revenue in Alberta came from problem gamblers.
Meggs asks if COPE opposes relocation. Dumler says no. Meggs asks how they came about this position. Dumler says they did not meet about it, but that did not feel the need to pass a motion, that this is consistent with their stance on the issue in the past.
12:25 -- Sharon Urton opposes the casino, and talks about creating projects where social interests and economic profit coincide.
12:30 -- Duncan Etches says as a physician (general practitioner, BC Women's Hospital), he's against the casino because he has seen that the more availability there is, the more problems will arise from addicted gamblers. He says, "I think these are very poor jobs" with regard to casinos, talking about the casinos in Nevada and the lack of stability in the industry.
Jang asks if Etches has encountered problem gamblers in his clinical practice, he says he has.
12:34 -- Sandy Garossino talks on behalf of Asha Fraser talking about the rise of China and how China outlaws gambing exept in Macau.
12:36 -- Josh Towsley says he supports the casino because it would create 5,500 construction jobs. He says first-class hotels would benefit the city, and says the casino would be environmentally responsible while hiring people from the DTES, Chinatown, Strathcona and Mount Pleasant area.
12:40 -- Ian Pitfield says he joined the opposition to the casino after reading a Deloitte report about the casino. He says the proposal is "all about money" and that there is no "virtue" in gambling. "You are being asked to gamble on this project based on unsubstantiated data," he says to Council. He says the Deloitte report porjects annual City revenue at $269.38 million, which is
12:47 -- Helen Waldstein Wilkes (author of recent Holocaust book, Letters From the Lost) speaks about the opposes gambling, talks about her opposition to gambling. Talks about how gambling is a "self-imposed" "tax on the poor" and how as a society, Vancouver should not earn revenue by preying on the weakness of others.
15:10 -- Richard Douglas of the Hospitality Vancouver Association talks about how a casino would enliven the city's night life.
15:20 -- Fred Bass, an epidemiologist, talks about a Solicitor's General report from March 2003 about how much people spend on gambling, and argues that 50 percent of gambling revenue comes from problem gamblers.
15:25 -- Bass says that BC has the highest prevalence of at-risk people for problem gambling. Woodsworth notes that China has banned gambling and asks Bass if there is a correlation between economic recession and gambling. Bass calls gambling a "parasitic industry," and says when there is an economic downturn, there tends to be an increase in gambling.
15:27 -- Cadman notes that among young people, a higher percentage of people are problem gamblers (a significantly higher rate than older people). He asks how it would affect young people if the casino was near a major sports arena. Bass says it's "not appropriate" for a casino to be near a facility filled with young people.
15:32 -- Rev. Andrew Chung, saying he is speaking on behalf of Chinese Christian community, asks what is good for Vancouver. He says he first felt the casino was probably already going to go through anyway, but looked into the issue and found it "very difficult to throw support" behind the proposed casino. He talks about asking through Facebook whether gambling is a good thing or not, and says respondants talked about family gambling debts, parental neglect, and shame of having gambling-addicted relatives. He references the story of a young man who had given over $20,000 of his own money to support his mother's gambling habit. He says the young man is "no longer with us today" due to family gambling debts.
Chung says a commonality of this is that these stories are all about Asian families affected by gambling, and talks about the culture of "shame" among Asians when they lose at gambling, which prompts them to continue until they win.
15:40 --Jang talks about the casino's strategy to target Asian gamblers, saying it reminded him of selling opium to Chinese. Chung says it's a "win-win for Paragon" marketing to a "thriving" Chinese community, as well as to "vulnerable" people in the DTES. Jang asks if there is a propensity to gambling in Chinese culture. Chung says in Asian culture, there is a religious belief in luck and prosperity, and that this makes them more vulnerable.
15:45 -- Loretta Ytterberg, a "third-generation East Vancouverite", talks about how Edgewater was saved from bankruptcy by Paragon, and how well her employers treated her. She she is "proud to work for Scott (Mencke) and Diana (Bennett). She talks about how Mencke phoned her almost daily after her stepmother, also an Edgewater employee, had passed away from cancer. She urges the Council to factor in the revenue that casino employees will bring to the downtown area.
Stevenson asks how Ytterberg feels about various citizens who have come out to speak against the casino with public health and crime concerns. Ytterberg says she can't comment on other peoples' opinions, and starts to talk about how low employee turnover is at Edgewater. Stevenson goes back to question about how she feels about other people's concerns. Ytterberg says in Canada, everyone is free to express their beliefs, but that there aren't many facts to back their opinions (in opposition to the casino).
15:50 -- Carrie Darling talks about her positive experience at Edgewater and asks Council to help the 600 current employees at the casino and 1200 potential people who will be find employment if the expansion is approved.
15:55 -- Lisa Reid-Forgie says she is a First Nations woman and says Edgewater has helped many people like her find success. She says casino expansion opponents who express sympathy for workers are showing "pity" for the casino workers. She says staff is trained on how to spot money launderers, and says the comments by previous speakers implying that BCLC has not done enough to prevent money laundering are "uninformed and incorrect."
Jang asks if Reid-Forgie feels she is increasing risk of problem gambling. Reid-Forgie says no, because those people are there on their own accord.
Cadman asks how many incidents of money laundering she has seen and reported. Reid-Forgie says they report, but don't know what happens to the people afterward. Cadman points out that BCLC has been fined before by FINTRAC for not taking enough action to prevent money-laundering.
16:00 -- Richard Procter talks about moving to Canada to pursue opportunities at Edgewater. He says he has lived in most, if not all the world's most livable cities, and says Vancouver is the most livable. Proctor objects to the claim that a casino would detract form livability and says 40% of the world's most livable cities, including Vienna, Perth, Melbourne, Auckland and Helsinki have casinos. He says most of the casinos have undergone expansion in these cities.
16:05 -- A speaker talks about the worsening drug trade situation in Vancouver, and says at the Vancouver Hospital, people with severe drug addictions get priority over World War II veterans because they come in such severe conditions. He says St. Paul's hospital is overrun by intravenous drug users. He says the casino is not a good model for business, and says Vancouver is a livable city despite the drug problems because people have a say in major political decisions. He disagrees that the casino employees are "pitied," but says that casino work is historically not virtuous and that most religions don't deem it noble.
16:12 -- Alan King, an Edgewater employee, talks about Vancouver as a good destination for living, and talks about people "choosing" to gamble at Edgewater casino. He says 46 security officers are employed at Edgewater, and says it does not rely on VPD to police resoures. He says he does not deny problem gambling, but says everything starts as a personal choice, and says it is unfair to the 95% of non-problem gamblers to deny them a gambling venue because of a small population that cannot gamble responsibly.
16:15 -- John Cahill, director of Paragon Gaming, talks about Paragon as a "service provider" and details the Bennetts' long history with casinos. He says Paragon realized it needed an "aggressive response" to crime and negative side of gambling, and says William championed unionized labour, and spoke against serving problem gamblers. He talks about addressing the "rapidly growing" Native market, and says Paragon has worked hard to become an employer of choice.
16:21 -- Meggs addresses money-laundering and asks if there is transperancy about policing casinos. Cahill repeats that Paragon is a service-provider and pursues transperancy. Meggs asks if other regions have tougher standards for policing, and Cahill says other places may be "better equipped". Meggs asks Cahill to clarify why Paragon says expansion is crucial. Cahill says he has a letter to submit which explains this in detail.
Anton asks about Paragon wanting to make the casino more "upscale". Cahill says there is nothing in BC to compare to, but that Paragon's casino in Alberta offers fine dining and luxurious hotels. He says the aim is to hold it up to a high standard.
16:40 -- Heather Deal asks him about his term "service provider" and asks if the company is for-profit. Cahill says they are for profit. Deal asks about the program "barwatch" and his plans to implement a program like it in casinos. Barwatch requires VPD to come to casino floor which they don't have jurisdiction for. Deal interrupts him and asks if VPD doesn't have jurisdiction, and Cahill says there are "layers of jurisdiction" preventing VPD to be on casino floors. Deal asks if the proposed casino plans to have a theatre with nightly shows. Cahill says the casino is not meanto to hold people captive and that they want customers to go out to Yaletown and other areas.
16:45 -- Woodsworth asks about the targeting of Native populations. Cahill says there were new laws allowing gambling on reserves. Woodsworth talks about Native populations being hard-hit by problem gambling. Cahill says they talked with Cree elders in Alberta about gambling, to ensure that it is not a problem. Woodsworth asks what their revenues are in Alberta. Cahill says he will not disclose numbers, and says in any case much of the funds that go to Edgewater is given to the BC government. Woodsworth asks what percentage of revenues is given to government. A long pause follows, Cahill looks behind him to discuss, and answers that he will get back to her later about this. He mentions that Edgewater pays a lot of money back to the BC governemnt.
Woodsworth asks what percentage of the casino's funds go toward helping First Nations problem gamblers. Cahill, looking slightly frustrated, says he does not know if he can get numbers to her because it's the weekend but he will try to get it to her tomorrow.
16:50 -- Stevenson says Cahill has many loyal employees, but that they are under the impression that if the casino is not expanded, they will be out of a job. Stevenson says, "there are other options," and asks if they would really be out of a job. Cahill says they would have to take a lot of time to find a different location, get a zoning permit, and that this poses problems. Stevenson notes that the owners of the current property are more flexible now and asks if he is still "all or nothing" about the expansion. Cahill says they came to BC to build a large downtown casino, saying he doubts there are alternatives.
16:53 -- Susan King, a shift manager at Edgewatre, says "people are going to gamble, whether it's convenient (or not)". She insists the casino revenue to the city will keep her taxes down, and says people come to Vancouver expecting to find a "classy" casino. She says most people in Edgewater are older and retired, saying it's safe. She says as shift manager, she speaks to problem gamblers and tries to get them into a program that would help them.
16:56: --Jon Segovia, an Edgewater employee, says despite the "negative things said about the casino in the media," he believes a new casino would bring more money to the city and boost tourism while providing more employment.
16:57 -- Anakana Schofield says she has written about the gambling industry for 11 years as a journalist, and says there is a correlation between recession and expanded gambling. She says it starts with these kinds of hearings that result in new licenses, which goes to chronic expansion, resulting in stage three, which results in repealing public health laws such as repealing smoking laws in casinos to increase revenue in such facilities. She says she laughs when people mention Melbourne because the city is "riddled" with problem gamblers.
Very animated, she talks about how New York would never approve of a casino downtown, and that Vancouver is moving toward "resort-ification". She talks about being working class and talks about why people from casinos are talking about how hard it is to find work outside casinos, and talks about the real issue of the devaluation of labour.
17:10 -- Stevenson asks her to talk about crime, referencing Asian money laundering in New Zealand.
17:15 -- Woodsworth asks about gambling and Native Americans. Schofield talks about how Coneticut Native Americans have improved their living standards but becomes a bit flustered when she talks about the Canadian situation.
17:20 -- James Ip (who was holding a large "Say No to Casinos" sign at past public hearing meetings) introduces himself as the chair of Vancouver Chinese Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship, representing 120 churches in the city. He says his group is conservative and family-oriented, and says he works in DTES and Richmond churches, and says he has to help families affected by problem gambling. He says many Chinese lose money through gambling and one couple committed suicide after racking up high gambling debt. He says all Chinese churches oppose the proposed casino. He says he worked for 12 years in Hong Kong and in England for two years as a city planner, and says he sees it as a "big problem" that a city like Vancouver would consider building a casino.
Ip talks about how his father was a gambler for 7 years during his childhood, and how his brother is still a gambler at 50 years old, and asks the city to consider the social cost of turning Vancouver into a gambling destination like Las Vegas.
17:30 -- Susan Faehndrisch-Findlay says she has four children and a funeral today to attend, but she took two hours out of her busy day to express how a large casino does not fit Vancouver, that the proposed casino is an "import" from the US. Mayor is texting someone on his phone, other people in room appear tired. Councillors stand up now and then.
17:35 -- Gerald Daubert, a senior citizen, says he is opposed to building a "monster casino". He says gambling has destroyed the lives of many who don't have money for rent. Daubert asks city to follow New York and Chicago's example by building arts facilities. He brings up the heights review and says the downtown needs more housing projects like Woodward's instead. He asks the mayor not to give into pressure from the province to approve.
17:40 -- Marcus Waddington, who is deaf and says he cannot hear his own voice clearly due to a broken hearing aid, talks about how he has attended 12 hours of public hearings and says that if Vancouver is to promote family life, they need more sanctuaries in the city, like the cherry blossom tree venues at Burrard Skytrain.
17:45 -- Dawn-Rae McLaren says as a building manager, she came across a tenant who failed to pay rent on numerous occasions due to gambling, who gave up on his wife and children rather than give up gambling. She walked through the Edgewater casino and says it was a "grim" place, "quietly giving their money away" and notes they look mostly like the opposite of high-rollers.
17:52 -- Ian Tostenson of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association talks about how his industry is a $10 billion industry which lost $5-10 million due to economic downturn and HST. He says that the restaurant industry is a bellweather for the econoy as a whole, and he doesn't see the BC economy improving anytime soon. He says he supports the casino because it's the only player today that has $500 million to give the city, and that this casino will be regulated. "What's the alternative?" he asks, saying that the food industry will be boosted by the casino.
Deal asks if he doesn't view the casino as a competitor. Tostenson says no, and that it will boost local businesses. Deal notes that there is not going to be a theatre inside the casino, and asks if that's going to really create restaurant jobs. Tostenson says he doesn't even see the proposed casino as a casino, but as an activity centre with a hotel and BC Place. Deal asks if he's for relocation or expansion. Tostenson says he's not at all concerned about size, and notes that he's impressed by how regulated casino is.
Mayor says meeting will be reconvened at 1pm tomorrow.