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FOI reveals government planned casino long before request for proposal

The B.C. Pavilion Corporation planned the redevelopment of the BC Place Stadium to accommodate the new Paragon-owned casino complex 10 months prior to selecting Paragon’s casino proposal, according to documents obtained through a City of Vancouver Freedom of Information request.

The documents track the city of Vancouver’s planning process for the BC Place lands conducted in the six months prior to the November 2008 civic election.

City planning process

The process was initiated in January 2008 at the request of the B.C. Pavilion Corporation, and was overseen by a select committee of senior civic and provincial officials including City Manager Judy Rogers and Premier Gordon Campbell’s long-time advisor Ken Dobell as well as an advisor from Partnerships BC.

According to minutes of the steering Committee, Dobell was responsible for contact with the provincial B.C. Pavilion Corporation.

PavCo site plan designed to support casino

The City documents reveal that the Pavilion Corporation had informed city officials that they were “talking to the casino about locating on the stadium site” months prior to the official Request For Proposal process that formally “selected” Paragon as the B.C. Place land developer.

Additionally, the documents reveal that eight months prior to issuing the RFP for the site the B.C. Pavilion Corporation had proposed a site plan designed specifically to accommodate the casino, necessitating changes in the street pattern on Pacific Avenue.

The plan by the B.C. Pavilion Corporation to site the Edgewater casino –- owned by Paragon Gaming of Nevada in partnership with high profile B.C. Liberal T. Richard Turner -- at BC Place nine months before the Corporation’s Request For Proposals was even issued and ten months before Paragon was selected suggests that the RFP process was, at best, pre-determined.

B.C. Place floorplate designed to accommodate casino

According to a ”summary of issues” prepared for City Steering Committee and dated August 8th, 2008, the B.C. Pavilion Corporation had proposed a site plan to City staff that “allows for a very large floor plate filling in almost the entire infill site to the west of the stadium. This is to allow for the large floor plate of the casino.”

The B.C. Pavilion Corporation did not issue the RFP for the B.C. Place development rights until April 20, 2009, 10 months after the “summary of issues” note.

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