Vancouver Permit Board approves supersized Edgewater casino at BC Place: Live blog transcript

Live from the casino expansion debate: Development Permit Board gives Paragon and PavCo. what they want, while acknowledging the risk posed to Vancouverites by gambling.

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2:50: Okay, that's the second time I've heard "Lowering the Stakes" mentioned. You know the term "preaching to the choir"? I think Paragon/PavCo will be doing the opposite of that.

2:53pm: A young woman leans in to her friend, "I live for this!" Presumably she means the drama. She may or may not have been quoting Vin Diesel from "xXx".

2:55pm: Fancy reading a Development Permit Staff Committee Report? Go for it.

3:02pm: Vicki Potter, chair of the meeting, acknowledges the large public turnout. Voting Board members: Brian Jackson, GM of Planning/Development; Sadhu Johnston, Deputy City Manager; Jerry Dobrovolny, Director of Transportation Manager. 16 people scheduled to speak. 5-minute limit, so you can't repeat Patton Oswalt's Star-Wars filibuster.

3:06pm: Dev. Permit Board doesn't make policy; it only applies existing policy to permits. City Council already approved the bare bones of the project. We're here today to discuss how it will be fleshed out.

This is a preliminary development application: not expected to be as detailed. A higher-up bird's-eye view.

3:09pm: Applicant is Paragon Holdings. Property owner is PavCo. 600 slot machines, 75 gaming tables in their plan for the casino portion of the development.

3:10 Paul Cheng (Urban Design & Development Planning) with staff recommendations. Prelim. development application must conform to existing zoning. If approved, this prelim would be followed by a full development application. This step refers to "high-level" aspects, i.e. building size and form.

3:12pm: The building would be the size of a typical Vancouver city block, says Cheng. "[t]his form of architectural expression has rarely been seen in the city," but "follows Vancouver's urban design principles."

3:16pm: Redesign of plaza needed to maximize open public space, says Cheng. Wants to kick that pack to the developers to see what kind of design they can come up with.

Also concern among staff regarding pedestrian circulation patterns. In other words, game-day crowds. Wants a comprehensive plan for how these crowds of people will move come game day. Wheelchair/stroller accessibility also must be addressed.

3:20pm: Possibility that the pedestrian bridge spanning Pacific Blvd. will be removed. What will replace it?

3:22pm: Rezoning conditions call for "activating the public realm" around the project. Concourse will have to link to Terry Fox Plaza. Overall design for towers and their base: big difference, says Cheng, between design in rezoning application and what we see now.

3:24pm: Staff recommended that the facade be a "little more activated" than the large blank wall that it currently is.

3:25pm: Staff recommend approval in principle of the preliminary plan.

3:26pm: Ms. Molero, Asst Dir. of Planning: Purpose of rezoning was to accommodate the expansion of uses as well as the relocation of the Edgewater Casino.

3:28pm: What uses are allowed in the new CD1? (Anything not allowed would have to go back to Council) Theatre is already allowed.

3:30pm: The applicant team is led by John Cahill, VP of Planning for Paragon Gaming. Team "concurs" with City Staff recommendations. Mentions opening up views for vehicles exiting the parking structure. They will be fielding questions from the board and panel.

3:35pm: Cahill mentions "Lower the Stakes" vis-a-vis the Healthy City Strategy. His staff wants to prove that the Edgewater Casino won't harm the city.

3:40pm: Cahill argues that the Edgewater doesn't occupy a purpose-built space, and therefore needs more space. "It's a tough building to work in." It's a slot-house layout, "like you see at truck stops." Paragon, he says, aspires to something better. he wants a minimum of 72,000 square feet of gaming space to "meet the high expectations of our guests." There are chuckles coming from the audience.

3:41pm: The project design is developed to meet LEED Gold standard. Proposes a transparent exterior for the podium section of the structure.

3:42pm: Cahill wants 114,000 square feet of gaming space, but repeats that only 600 slot machines and 75 gaming tables will be installed. Paragon agrees with reducing the number of parking spaces.

3:44pm: Acknowledging that social media has picked up on all that extra space not required for those 600 slots, 75 tables. Someone in the audience puts it bluntly.

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