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.
3:48pm: Paragon and PavCo had to come to agreement on how those exiting the stadium via automobile will be impacted. Changes to the preliminary plan will mean revisiting those conversations.
3:51pm: Dobrovolny mentions requirement for shared parking; acknowledged by Paragon team. IBI Architects' Martin Bruckner: Traffic will be "carefully managed... on a day-to-day basis." Uh, this is Vancouver. Part of LEED Gold pan is to use captured heat to warm the piped water, as well as maximising the use of natural light.
3:57pm: Johnston asks about on-site food production; that hasn't yet been planned.
3:58pm: Paragon wants to assure the panel that signange (a major concern for the public) will be "attractive" and "not garish". The panel reminds the applicants that their signange package will have to be very, very specific. Paragon has a signage consultant. (In other news, signage consultants exist!)
4pm: On to the speakers list. the dude to my right smiled and said, "Showtime!"
4:01pm: Ian Pitfield, part of Vancouver Not Vegas. "This development as it pertains to gaming is plain and simple not consistent" with City Council's prohibition of the extension of gambling in Vancouver. "There's nothing to indicate" that the Edgewater Casino's move would also involve a doubling of floor-space. Pitfield characterizes the application as "We want more room for more."
4:04pm: Pitfield compares Edgewater plan with those in Atlantic City. The amount of space per slot machine is far greater. Pitfield sees this application as a chess move: "Someday, somehow, Council's prohibition against [expanded gambling] will be overcome." It's a "contrived and disguised move" to stake out gambling space now. He suggests sending this plan back to Council.
4:06pm: Sandy Garossino, Vancouver Not Vegas: "Very concernign to members of the public" that there have been "almost no questions asked of city planners" regarding whether or not they've read the Kendall Report. 41% of casino-goers are problem gamblers; 73% are problem drinkers. The entire business model, says Garossino, hinges on getting people to gamble and consume more when they get into the building.
Casino design, says Garossino is to increase gambling spending, time, and intensity. Casino income is key to the Edgewater plan, so, "Why is this being rushed?" We need a "made-in-Vancouver public health strategy" regarding this plan.
4:12pm: Garossino spends her final seconds at the mic listing Vancouver Not Vegas' supporters; they include some of those involved in the Kendall Report, as well as architects, urban planners, and entertainment-park professionals.
4:21pm: Grant Fraser: "I couldn't care less what it looks like." The casino, he says, is "at the center of this." He opposed the casino expansion in 2011, says there are "serious problems" with how all of BC's casinos are run. "I certainly don't trust the city or the representatives of Paragon here," but doesn't see this hearing as the line in the sand. He hopes Edgewater won't be another River Rock or Grand Villa; he says, "I like the Edgewater the way it is."
4:15pm: Elaine Carol, Artistic Director of Miscellaneous Productions, based in East Van. "I could not be more emphatic" in opposing a casino "smack dab in the middle of a community already struggling" with gangs, poverty, and crime. Addiction is the core problem, she argues, be it to drugs, alcohol, the gang lifestyle, or gambling. That the gaming industry targets young males, she argues, makes a bad situation even worse.
She recounts the story of one of the young men from one of her shows. He's now saddled with debts piled on by his mom's gambling addiction. "We need a real vision for this city.... we need to grow up, act like responsible adults."
4:22pm: Colin Myles. There's been "a sort of amnesia" regarding casino expansion in Vancouver. Nonprofit-sector benefit will be limited as per provincial law, says Myles, no matter how profitable the casino is. He refers to it as "a public-health epidemic". A problem gambler, he says, costs the province $20,000-$56,000, according to a Toronto-based study. He says there are "29,000 problem gamblers" in Toronto's high-school-age population.
"We live on land that is the ancestral home of the first peoples," says Myles, so we need to think as they did: in terms of future generations. "We don't need expanded gambling."
4:26pm: Hilary Reid, UBC instructor, says the proposal is "butt-ugly". Go back to the drawing board, she says, and come back with something less "view-destroying". The citizens of Vancouver "don't want expanded gambling now or ever". We'd have to be naive, she says, to take Paragon at its word that gambling won't be expanded.