Incomplete information is being cited for the postponement this week of a scheduled hearing concerning the gaming licence for a proposed casino in South Surrey.
Surrey council was to discuss the issue at a land-use meeting Monday afternoon. A delay until Dec. 10 was announced Friday, meaning the earliest that a public hearing on the matter could be held is Jan. 14, the date of the next regular council meeting.
“There’s a number of things we have not received yet,” Mayor Dianne Watts told Peace Arch News Monday. “It’s important to make sure that we have all of the information.”
Staff have told city council that more time is needed to review and analyze letters from residents and other members of the public, “receive and consider comments from the City of White Rock and the Township of Langley… and to consider the comments that have been received from the Semiahmoo First Nation.”
As well, they need to review a socio-economic impact study by the B.C. Lottery Corporation, and a finalized traffic-impact study.
Watts said of those who have contacted her in regards to the casino, she is hearing “some for and some against” the project. But she has yet to make up her own mind, she said.
“Going into public hearing, we have to be open to listening to all information,” she said.
And while Gateway and BCLC say the complex – eyed as part of a $100-million project proposed for 18 acres of a 25-acre site at 10 Avenue and 168 Street – would produce $6 million annually for the city, Watts said those funds are not the deciding factor.
“For me, personally, it’s not a huge issue,” she said. “It is a part of the picture and it all has to be weighed out.”
Watts would not comment on opponents’ arguments regarding the association of casinos with crime and social problems.
Coun. Marvin Hunt, however, was more clear about his stance. He told PAN last week by email that while he is looking forward to the public hearing, he does not support the expansion of gambling.
“I have seen firsthand the destruction that a gambling addiction can cause,” Hunt writes.
Preliminary designs call for a 60,000-square-foot gaming floor, 800-seat theatre, 27,000-square-foot convention and entertainment zone, a 200-room, four-star hotel, four restaurants and three lounges.
– Dan Ferguson, Tracy Holmes & Alex Browne