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Live blogging the casino public hearing at City Council

Photo by Jenny Uechi of demonstration outside City Hall on eve of first night of casino-expansion public hearings

11:00pm -- Mayor Gregor Robertson announces that City Council will reconvene to hear the rest of the speakers tomorrow (Tuesday March 8th), and that the hearings are likely to run from 7-10 pm. 

10:55 -- Another Edgewater casino employee, Arif Bhaloo (last speaker of this evening), talking about his high wage at Edgewater, his "thrilling" job, how much he enjoys being in the industry (past 17 years), how he comes from a single-parent home on social assistance, how the casino allowed him to "enjoy some of the finer things in life." Many people have left by now, atmosphere is relaxed.

10:50 -- Janet Hansen, another Edgewater casino employee, talks about how many people would be negatively impacted if the proposed casino did not get approved. She talks about a $30,000 donation to the Food Bank by Edgewater, and talks about personal tragedies including husband's disability and how the casino job supports her as the main breadwinner. Councillor Jang asks if she will lose her job if the casino does not get relocated, Hansen says she will not. 

Interesting that most speakers so far are supporters, and employees of the casino. 

10:44 -- Fayne Bolter, an Edgewater casino employee (whose wife is also an employee) says it will cause financial distress if the casino project does not go forward. 

10:42 -- Ms. Baker, a supporter of the project, talks about her job at Edgewater, and how she must provide for her disabled daughter who is unable to work. She says "I think having an upgraded exactly what the night life (in Vancouver) needs." She talks about how Paragon is offering her a long-lasting job in management, and that if she doesn't get it, she would be on assistance. She expresses her fear of poverty, saying "I do not want to be homeless". 

Meggs asks Baker if she has heard from employers that her current casino will close if Paragon's project doesn't go forward. Baker replies, no, but she wants to expand in her current job.

10:40 -- Leslie Harris - Edgewater casino employee says she found a job at Edgewater while couch-surfing in Vancouver, says it helps her "experience 3 Gs" of Vancouver: Greatness, Giving (donating $80,000 to the Food Bank), Growth. Talks about her growth as a person because of her job at Edgewater, her fears about being on the receiving end of services at Food Bank. 

10:30 -- Craig, a Vancouver resident, introduces himself as one of the 95% of BC residents who gamble. He says the current casinos are "substandard" for a city of Vancouver's size. He calls the current BC Place "outdated," "leaky," and says that renovations are necessary. He praises Paragon as an employer, and says it's an "excellent solution" that City should support. 

Stevenson asks him if there are any large cities in Canada with a casino right downtown. Craig said there is a large casino in Montreal, and says the current area in Vancouver anyway is a void. 

Craig says he's a recreational gambler, and the facility here doesn't match international standards. He says at night, you can't golf or ski, but you can go to casinos. 


10:18 -- Greater Vancouver Alliance of Arts and Culture representative Amir Ali Alibhai says that the arts community is "united in its opposition to the casino." Says that they've become aware of many different perspectives on the proposal, and became aware of many more reasons to oppose. He talks about "questionable credibility and track record of the proponent," the "inflated figures" of projected revenue, and calls on the City to reject the proposal. He says he wants a city that is "well-planned," "socially cohesive," and that a "downtown casino plunked in the middle of downtown is not part of that vision." He says artists are united in their opposition to the casino.

Suzanne Anton asks him to clarify if he's opposed because arts funding has not been provided, or if it's because he dislikes the idea of the casino in general. answers that in addition to not receiving the funds, they do not support the casino project. 

Stevenson asks, if they get money, would they support it? Alibhai says the arts community would still be opposed. Stevenson comments, "Very brave."

10:14 -- A senior resident (elderly woman) opposes the casino on grounds of increased crime and policing. Quotes CBC Radio Mark Forsythe asking Rich Coleman asking why $10,000 limit is not enforced. Quotes how Coleman said it should not be, as customers should not be refused. Says that the casino will encourage "international thugs to money launder as well." Cheers erupt in the hallway. 

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