BC Lottery Corporation's vice-president of casino and community gaming

On the hot seat: casino proponents jeered at forum

Public meeting organized by South Surrey casino opponents draws 300

A sometimes-hostile crowd of around 300 people groaned and jeered at proponents of a casino in South Surrey during a public hearing organized by opponents of the $100 million project proposed for 10 Avenue and 168 Street.

The three-hour hearing was organized by the South Surrey Ratepayers Association which said the mayors of White Rock, Surrey and representatives of the casino and BCLC have been invited to attend.

Neither mayor showed, but BC Lottery Corporation’s vice-president of casino and community gaming, Jim Lightbody and Gateway general counsel James Chen did attend, along with City of Surrey area planning manager Ron Hintsche.

Association president Terry McNeice repeatedly called for civility, telling the audience their indignation should be directed at Surrey Council.

“We are two meetings away from a casino,” McNeice said.

“You have to take this up with your mayor and council members.”

Forum audienceMore than a dozen speakers took the podium to object to the proposed project, on grounds that ranged from concerns about traffic congestion and the potential for crime to the loss of farmland and the issue of compulsive gambling.

Among them was Margaret Woods, who took issue with Lightbody for using the word “myth” during a television interview to challenge claims about casino-related crime.

The word, Woods said, was “unfortunate.” She said she remains convinced that a casino would hike crime despite all the claims to the contrary.

Another resident, Mike Steffen, said the project should be built in an industrial area, like other Lower Mainland casinos.

“I’m not particularly opposed to casinos, just the proposed area that it’s in,” Steffen said.

Ross Buchanan called the complex a “monster” that will destroy the neighbourhood where it’s being built.

When Chen said feedback from a Gateway-organized forum showed more than half the respondents supported the project, there were scattered jeers and catcalls.

Lightbody got the same response when he said an independent study shows the crime rate was unaffected or dropped in four BC communities after casinos were built.

“We know we’re not going to be the most popular guys in the room,” Lightbody said.

Chen took issues with critics who complained the casino would be a tacky “Vegas-style” development, defending it as “tastefully designed.”

Chen also objected to suggestions the casino was being rushed through the approval process.

“We are not taking any shortcuts,” Chen said.

“No one should accuse us of that.”

Hintsche noted the property in question was specifically zoned for the type of project Gateway is proposing.

He said all comments on the proposal would be referred to council prior to a Nov.26 land use committee meeting.

A review of the matter at the meeting will decide whether or not it is forwarded it to a Dec. 10 council meeting for final approval.

“Everything that is submitted to the city directly is being put in a package and will be going to council,” Hintsche said.

He added the plans for the project have been changed to increase the size of the theatre and banquet facilities.

The preliminary designs called for a 60,000-sq.-ft. gaming floor, 800-seat theatre, 27,000-sq.-ft. convention and entertainment zone, a 200-room, four-star hotel, four restaurants and three lounges on 18 acres of a 25-acre site. BCLC has suggested the casino, if approved by the city, could be open as soon as late 2014.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

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

Just Posted

Video tribute to KPU’s spring grad class also honours Andrew Petter, Bill Wright

‘We still want to celebrate our graduates, their achievements, and their resilience’

Surrey baseball association loses ‘a true giant’ in Bruce Lawson

Longtime volunteer ‘always gave his heart and soul to Surrey Canadian and the game of baseball’

Surrey School District forecasts up to 30 per cent of students will return to class this week

Education Minister Rob Fleming said on June 1, about 60,000 B.C. children returned to school

Clover Valley Beer Festival cancelled

Cloverdale beer fest falls victim to COVID-19

South Surrey’s Darts Hill Garden Park to re-open – by appointment

City of Surrey-run garden will be open to visitors Thursday through Saturday

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read