Casi-no or casi-yes? Candidates talk casinos

SURREY – Looking back at late 2012 and early 2013, the hot topic in Surrey was a controversial casino and entertainment complex planned for South Surrey.

 

Proposed by Gateway Casinos, the $100-million development would have been located on a 25-acre property at 168th Street and 10th Avenue and featured a 190-room hotel, a 60,000 square-foot gaming floor and a 27,000 square-foot convention centre. The project would have also netted the City of Surrey about $3 million annually in gaming revenue, but after a massive public outcry over the proposal and a divisive public hearing session that totalled more than 13 hours, it was narrowly defeated by council in a late-night five-to-four vote.

 

While crime, safety and transportation continue to be key issues in the 2014 civic election, the Now reached out to the mayoral candidates to see what they would do if the South Surrey casino, or any other casino application, came before them.

 

Independent Vikram Bajwa was opposed to the South Surrey casino application at its 168th Street and 10th Avenue location, but said any other applications he receives would be put to a city-wide referendum.

 

"I would let the people decide," he noted.

 

"This kind of issue needs to let all of the residents make the decision."

 

First-time independent candidate John Edwards said he was in favour of the South Surrey casino due to the economic factor and would entertain other such applications.

 

"I was in favour of it because when I looked at the plan, the number of jobs and the economic activity, I thought it was a very good idea," he said, adding he would look at any other applications with an open mind. "I think you have to look at the bigger picture and say we can’t very well deny people the right to go to a casino and spend their money if that’s what they want to do. We have a social responsibility as a city to not deny the fact that people want a casino, but we need to make sure those people who are problem gamblers have the support they need."

 

Surrey First’s mayoral candidate Linda Hepner said she would not be voting in favour of any more casino proposals. Hepner voted in favour of the proposed South Surrey casino back in January 2013, which was defeated by a deciding vote cast by Mayor Dianne Watts.

 

"I’ve been there, I’ve done that and I will not revisit a casino application in that location," she said. "We have a powerful and functioning operation with Fraser Downs and I would consider that Surrey’s location for a casino. I’m not doing that again."

 

Former mayor Doug McCallum, leading the Safe Surrey Coalition, said he would be opposed to any future casino or gaming applications brought before council, stating his opposition to gambling in the city.

 

"I won’t support it, I’ve never supported expanding the gambling in Surrey," he said. "I was very vocal against gambling, I’m not a supporter of gambling and would not support it at all."

 

Likewise, One Surrey’s Barinder Rasode said she would also not support any future expanded gambling opportunities in Surrey. Rasode also reiterated that she voted

 

CI IC in favour of the South Surrey casino in order to have Gateway’s gaming licence moved from the slot machine and bingo hall in Newton to South Surrey. "I did not support the expanding of the slot machines in Newton. I did not want a licence to come to Surrey and then we had the challenge of having the licence in Newton and my reason for supporting the South Surrey application was the South Surrey application actually met the city’s gaming policy and I believed that moving the licence out of Newton would be good as it was placed in a very vulnerable community," she said. "We fought really hard in the community to have that site shut down."

 

Long-time council watcher and independent mayoral candidate Grant Rice said he would definitely be opposed to any casino or gaming applications coming his way, and that he was actually involved in the community fight against the casino back in 2012 and 2013.

 

"I was heavily involved in fighting that casino even though I live in the north," he said. "The social ills that come with gaming are my sore point. I would make sure we don’t expand gaming at all and would revisit the gaming policy for the City of Surrey."

 

First-time mayoral candidate John Wolanksi said his focus has always been social issues and as such, would be against any more gambling coming to Surrey.

 

"I was at that (South Surrey casino) meeting and was one of the ones that spoke against it because of the effects it would have on the community to have another casino," he said. "I know a lot of people that it would cause job losses. It’s really a saturation point, we have enough gambling and we don’t need anymore. I’m not against casinos, I’m not against development but we don’t need anything else in Surrey to put vulnerable people into dire financial straits."

 

cpoon@thenownewspaper.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey bus driver tests positive for COVID-19

Routes he drove have not been disclosed

Surrey mayor denies property tax deferral motion

Councillor’s notice of motion for Surrey property taxes to be deferred until Dec. 2 out of order

Team refunds OK’d for cancelled Surrey Mayor’s Cup soccer tournament

The decision follows the amalgamation of the Central City Breakers club with Surrey Football Club

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Most Read