Anti-gambling coalition fighting casino move in court

Vancouver municipal election 2011: Mega-casino plan may be scrapped, but relocation of Edgewater still deserves a public airing, says Vancouver Not Vegas.

Vancouver municipal election 2011: Lindsay Brown, co-founder of the Vancouver Not Vegas Coalition, has filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a decision by Vancouver city council approving the relocation of Edgewater Casino to B.C. Place Stadium.

In a press release issued Monday, Brown said: "To this day, the people of Vancouver still have no idea of what is being planned for the casino development on the B.C. Place Stadium site, yet council has essentially written Paragon and PavCo [developers of the site] a blank cheque by approving the relocation.

"Once again, plans are being made behind closed doors at city hall, apparently to be dropped on the public when it's too late for us to have a voice, but this time council has granted its approval in advance. The B.C. Place site is a Vancouver landmark affecting thousands of residents, and we don't know what's happening there," the release said.

"We need to be part of the discussion this time around -- if there is a 'his time around.'"

"Council consistently treated this application as a re-zoning matter, and has not recognized the requirements of provincial legislation governing decisions around gaming licenses," added retired justice Ian Pitfield, a coalition supporter. "The community was not provided with any particulars of the relocation proposal. It was only told about an expansion."

The release went on to say that during the public hearings in the spring of 2011, Paragon Gaming, the owners of Edgewater Casino, strongly stated that relocation without an expansion of their license was not an acceptable solution, and offered no amended plan for the public or Council to review.

Brown argued that council voted to approve only the relocation of the Edgewater Casino against the applicant's wishes and without public consultation respecting any revisions, and that the City has not complied with the Gaming Control Act and Regulations.

City council voted unanimously in April to reject a proposal to greatly expand the Edgewater Casino on a site next to B.C. Place. The pproposal at the time called for a large casino complex featuring up to 1,500 slot machines and two hotels.

The vote followed a massive outcry from citizens and groups who argued that the large gambling centre would increase crime in the surrounding area, much of which is residential, and increase problem gambling. 

Mayor Gregor Robertson promised in October, as his party's election campaign ramped up, that there would be no mega-casino in the city should he be re-elected.

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