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Live blogging the casino public hearing at City Council, Day 3

11:04 -- Meeting recessed. Mayor announces reconvening April 12th at 6pm.  

11:00 -- Woodsworth says she wants to ensure that everyone at Edgewater keeps their "well-paying" jobs. She asks Edelson whether he's in favour of a relocation, and Edelson replies that there needs to be an assessment done about how the relocation will impact the Downtown Eastside, considering the number of low-income people who will have more access to gambling.

 

10:50 -- Nathan Edelson,  planner with the City's Planning Department from 1983 to 2008, says the casino is a "misallocation of public funds", citing homelessness and lack of hospital space as a more pressing problem. Noting that Edgewater is likely a good employer due to the loyalty of its staff, he questions why Edgewater casinos must lose their jobs. Edelson says there should be a "fair taxation policy" so that social services can be provided without relying on gambling.

10:43 -- Colin Miles, who was given a Mayor's Arts Award in 2009, says it is in a spirit of public service that he is at City Hall to oppose the casino expansion. He says money gained without work is one of the "cancers" of a society, and notes that BC has one of the nation's lowest public funding for the arts, and says Vancouver should be working to build a theatre instead. 

Deal asks if he was opposed to expansion or relocation. Miles says he doesn't want the casino employees to lose their jobs, and says the casino is likely bluffing that all the casino will close if it doesn't expand. 

10:40 -- Ben Ho, a dealer at Edgewater, says he started working at Edgewater in 2005, and that currently his wife works at the casino as well. He says 713 families will be impacted if City votes against the expansion. He points out that everyone in a yellow shirt volunteered to be at the hearing, and is not being paid by Edgewater to come to City Hall. Loud cheers from people in yellow shirts. 

10:37 -- Natalia Heredia, an Edgewater employee, says she came from Colombia and faced many difficulties finding a job. Heredia, fighting tears, says she started working at Edgewater in 2008, and was lucky to find a job with good wages and benefits. She says the job gave her the chance to support her daughter.

10:31 -- James Johnstone says he remembers how City often imposed their plans on neighbourhoods, saying their plan was a "done deal". Johnstone says residents organized in the past to ensure that a freeway was not built, and that Chinatown and Gastown still stand. He urgest City not to vote on an unpopular project, and not to turn Vancouver into Las Vegas.

10:27 -- Cadman says he was quite surprised that then-Premier Gordon Campbell was involved with the casino expansion. Cadman recalls that Campbell was adamant on balancing budget and asks Bickerton, "Is this the way to balance the budget?" to increase casinos until funds are raised, talks about "desparation" on the province's part.

10:20 -- Anton asks Bickerton what the False Creek Residents' Association was hoping for, in addition to the new roof for BC Place. Bickerton says there were no specifics, but that a daycare was in discussion. Anton says there seems to be a "gap" between Bickerton's understanding of efforts to communicate with Paragon and their understanding of it. Bickerton says he wrote to the Paragon three times, but that there was no response.

Meggs points out that he only received Bickerton's private email messages that evening. Bickerton expresses relief but says he will take legal action nevertheless. 

10:11 -- Bickerton says he tried to bargain with Pavco to see if the arts community could negotiate for restoring funding for the arts. Jang asks Bickerton what he was going to bargain with, Bickerton says he repeats that he was trying to secure funding for the arts. Jang says repeatedly that Bickerton has not answered the question in terms of what he was willing to offer for getting this result. 

10:06 -- Sean Bickerton opposes the expanded casino on grounds that many major casinos in the US go bankrupt, and that it is not a viable business model. Meggs brings up an email that Bickerton had sent Paragon about meeting to discuss the casino, Bickerton becomes visibly upset, saying Paragon has made public his private email, says he will talk to his lawyer about this privacy violation. 

10:03 -- Motion by Robertson to extend hearing up to one hour. Motion passes. 

10:00 -- Brandee McGhee, an Edgewater employee, says she is a single mother and that she and her daughter depend on the casino job. Addresses the concern about children entering the casino, says that all entrances are staffed 24/7 to ensure that this does not happen. 

9:55 -- Vijaya Sharma, who used to work as a science teacher in India, talks about how the casino job helped her support her jobless husband when she immigrated from India, and says the job helped her put her children through university. She says finding regular income is extremely hard for new immigrants in Canada, and says Edgewater made her dream for higher education for her boys come true.  

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