The B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) asked two First Nations and three municipalities in June 2016 if they would be interested in welcoming a new gaming facility into their communities. Those interested were asked to send in a non-binding proposal before July 15 and the City of North Vancouver has decided to take the BCLC up on its offer.
This is an interesting move for the City as back in 2015, council members voted against a casino developer wanting to install slot machines on the waterfront. The BCLC has stated that a North Shore casino could end up generating around $1.5 to $2.2 million for the local government in gaming taxes. Council members have decided to consider the possibility of hosting a new casino as they do not want to lose out on possible revenue to neighboring cities.
Coun. Holly Back was one of the members who is now open to the idea of having a casino in the city. Back stated that she had discussed the pros and cons of hosting a casino with council members in Richmond and Burnaby and heard that there were a lot more positives associated with hosting a casino than negatives. The feedback she received was that the casinos caused absolutely no problems, generated income for the state, create employment opportunities and were the best tenants in the city.
Coun. Linda Buchanan was another member who changed her mind after voting against developing commercial gaming facilities on the waterfront. This time around Buchanan is in favor of hosting a new gaming facility as it does not involve the waterfront or developing one on public property. Mayor Darrell Mussatto and Coun. Craig Keating has also decided to support the proposal and as a result, have decided to send in a non-binding agreement to the BCLC.
However there are still a number of council members who think hosting a casino in the city is not a good idea. Coun. Don Bell said that since the BCLC made its announcement he had received many letters expressing concern and just one letter of support. Coun. Pam Bookham was another member against the proposal and called on the government to pay attention to the voice of the municipality.
In a statement, Bookham said “I find myself concerned that the province is pushing this upon our community without regard to the message that I thought we sent quite unambiguously the last time we discussed gaming in the city and indicated we were in fact not in favor. This is about the province generating revenue through gaming, something that when they were first elected, they were adamant they were not going to do.”
The Squamish Nation and the districts of West Vancouver and North Vancouver have decided not to send in a proposal of interest.