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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5:05pm: Ellen Woodsworth: Why hasn't it been requested that this project go to LEED Platinum standard, if it's going to be such a money-spinner? As a former city councilor who voted on this in 2011, she's dismayed that the plan now has such obvious space for expansion. She recommends this go back to council so the city can be sure that there will be no expanded gambling in the future. "You need political clarity to go forward"; clarity, Woodsworth says, that the city currently lacks. She endorses a made-in-Vancouver public health strategy on gambling before this project goes ahead, or the City will "open this up for something more devastating than what we already have."
5:10pm: Potter: Time for "Random hand-raisers." First up is Rod McDonald. "I didn't come here to talk about site-lines. I didn't come here to talk about garden walkways. [...] I came here to talk about addiction. I am a gambling addict. I've been in recovery for 15 months. [...] I'm basically outing myself here today." McDonald says, "The carnage that [the gambling] industry has left behind is immeasurable."  His family already knows: "The heritage home is gone, the BMW is gone, it's all gone." He says that an expanded casino "is not something we need," and that it will "further the addiction issue" in Canada.
 He says we need a world-class addiction centre before we move forward: "Take a breath, count to 100."
5:18pm: Rikia Saddy has four questions. 1. If we've already established that we don't want more gambling in Vancouver, why is there double the floorspace in this plan? 2. How will you handle the call that 100sf per machine is not profitable, "because that call is coming"? 3. When staff is asked to detail the list of allowable space, why wouldn't the Deputy City Planner answer the question? "With all due respect, sir, you work for us." 4. After seeing how families lost their livelihood and the ties to organized crime, what did Cahill mean in calling the current Edgewater "inefficient"?
5:20pm: Annie Schofield is surprised gambling isn't legal in Utah yet, such is local government's grab for gaming dollars. "It's kind of like giving a giant bowl of Jell-o, then telling the people not to take a lick." We are, in effect, approving the expansion of gambling by approving this project. Also, the project isn't as foolproof as you'd be led to believe: "The arse can fall out of it", though PavCo doesn't acknowledge as much. "This whole thing has been pushed through deliberately too quietly." She says, "kick it back" to Council.
5:25pm: Judy Rudin: "Strip away all the other concerns about what an expanded casino means [...] and deal with the very simple promise that City Council made in the not-too-distant past. [...] We were promised no expansion." This is, she says, "undeniably an expansion."
5:28pm: Going over the current zoning laws vs what Paragon and PavCo want.

5:31pm: Advisory Panel provides advice to the Board. [At this point, I cannot see who is speaking; I can only hear them. they do not introduce themselves.]

5:33pm: Issues regarding sustainability as well as the addiction and public-safety issues outlined earlier.

5:35pm: Presentations were “very persuasive”, but the point related to the potential expansion. Current plan ensures the number of gaming tables cannot be changed without public input. (Does this not ignore what the speakers said, regarding an end-run around the current agreement? Also, CIty relying on its own public-engagement process, which some would argue is unwise.)

5:38pm: As far as the architectural expression, this scheme is in one of the few areas in the city… allows a bit of a contrast. The “fine-grain design” changes will have to occur. Regarding LEED, “not as strong as having certification.”

5:40pm: “There is some means of controlling gaming activity.”

5:44pm: A recommendation that the application get sent back to council.

5:45pm: "Gambling is a very personal and hot topic." Acknowledges that gambling revenue is in itself an addiction. This meeting is about compliance with zoning.

5:46pm: Jackson: "I learned a lot." "The building design is here before us today... The views you see in the drawing will never be seen, since it'll be surrounded by other buildings." He calls it "monolithic." He describes the issues brought up in the meeting as "horrific", referencing a friend who lost everything in Vegas due to a gambling addiction. "I don't think the recommendations today go far enough in terms of responding to the Kendall Report." He wants to see an addiction expert weigh in on this, regarding things like ATM presence, hours of operation, hours of liquor service, availability of gambling-addiction information.

5:52pm: Dobrovolny: "Council has made a decision in terms of a certain framework... we're working within a policy and bylaws and rules." He says that the project meets the existing limits. Accepts Paragon's word that it will not try to expand.

5:53pm: Johnston: Concerns around LEED certification; he wants to amend that aspect of the rezoning condition so that the project meet LEED Gold certification.

5:56pm: Applicant team response to upping the LEED minimum standard to Gold: Paragon is "pleased to go with LEED Gold certified."

5:57pm: Potter: Preliminary development permit application has been approved in principle, to develop the site for a mixed-use complex comprised of a casino, hotel, and parking structure. All of this is subject to a final application review, once that application is complete. This is also subject to Council approval to the final form of development.

Potter reads the changes to the application terms: LEED Silver to Gold; now with six energy-optimizing points. Also, a response to the Kendall Report prepared by a certified expert on gambling addiction will be required, regarding risk mitigation, addiction reduction. Also an operational management plan regarding opening hours and liquor service.

So this preliminary application for the Edgewater Casino complex will go forward, and will not get sent back to Council.

The next meeting will take place on January 27, 2014.

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