(File photo)

(File photo)

City of Victoria reaches impasse on hosting a casino, votes to never reply to BCLC

Conflict between legal concerns and reconciliation push decision ‘into the ether’

The City of Victoria reached an impasse in its decision on whether or not to host a casino, and as a result have voted not to make any decision at all.

In November the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) wrote a letter asking the city to confirm if it should still be considered as a host for any future casinos. In December 2018 council drafted a letter that firmly declined the decision, citing concerns for potential money laundering opportunities, but the letter was never passed due to a motion put forward by Coun. Marianne Alto.

READ MORE: Victoria no longer interested in hosting a downtown casino

Alto brought up that barring the city for consideration would also bar local First Nations from later expressing interest. She proposed an amendment be added to the letter, stating that the city would no longer be interesting in hosting a casino “[b]ut may consider a proposal by a local First Nation, reflecting their right to economic development self-determination.”

The amendment was discussed at large at council Thursday (Jan. 17) night, which ran until 1 a.m. Friday morning.

ALSO READ: Victoria wants more information on money laundering prevention in casinos

“We were facing two competing value systems,” Alto said. “We have council’s general disinterest in hosting… paired with their strong and ongoing commitment to supporting First Nations.”

Alto said that in the past she has spoken with both the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations about the option, and while Esquimalt didn’t give a decision the Songhees Nation asked that the option not be eliminated from the future.

“Do we have a right to make decisions for them?” Alto said. “Do we have a right to close a door when we know this is one of the many ways First Nations can pursue economic development?”

Despite the desire for reconciliation, council could not agree on a decision and ultimately voted to abstain from a decision altogether.

ALSO READ: Drake alleges racial profiling at B.C. casino

“In the end we actually put forward a motion to postpone the decision indefinitely,” Alto said. “The outcome for the motion is essentially set off into ether to never reappear, so that essentially means we will not be considering this in the future. So, we’ve made no decision to the BCLC letter.”

In an emailed statement, the BCLC said they were aware of the decision.

“BCLC respects the authority of local governments, including First Nations, to choose whether they want a gambling facility in their community,” said Sarah Morris, BCLC media relations. “Meantime, we will consider potential next steps for the Greater Victoria region, in which several local governments initially expressed interest in hosting a casino. BCLC will take the time necessary to do that.”

While the decision is unique, Alto said she was concerned over how difficult it was to face a relatively easy topic compared to other issues council will have to face in the future.

“Reconciliation is about how far we are willing to put action behind our words… when things like this come up it’s a test for us; how uncomfortable are we willing to be?” Alto said. “This is like a canary in the coal mine, if we can’t do this one, the next one will be harder. To be honest if last night was a test, I think we failed.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

City of Victoria

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

Just Posted

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

Nic Hume and his fellow paramedic stopped to rescue the victim of an Oak Bay hit-and-run – a duck – at the end of their shift Thursday morning. (Nic Hume/Facebook)
Paramedics rescue unusual patient after Oak Bay hit-and-run

A female duck was rescued while a male one was deceased on scene

Craigdarroch Care Home has put in place enhanced control measures after Island Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak. (Google Earth)
Island Health declares outbreak at second Victoria long-term care home

Two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 at Craigdarroch Care Home

Tina Starkey with her seven-month-old puppy Sugar on the E&N Trail in Esquimalt. Starkey now carries a small personal alarm device, her thumb on the button. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Encounters leave Vic West woman concerned for her safety

The 50-year-old wants self defence training, says she’s not alone

An early morning fire along Cameron Street has left two cats dead and two tenants homeless. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Early morning fire guts Victoria house, leaves 2 cats dead

Victoria Fire Department called out shortly before 2 a.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

As the snow in Manning Park melts, searchers are able to get a little farther each day. Photo submitted
Family resumes search for son missing in B.C.’s Manning park since October

‘This is our child, and we don’t give up on our children,’ said mother of Jordan, Josie Naterer

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada buys 65M Pfizer booster shots for protection against COVID-19 variants

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the deal with Pfizer includes options to add 30 million doses in both 2022 and 2023, and an option for 60 million doses in 2024

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A plan flew over the Lower Mainland with a sign expressing some Canucks fans’ discontent with the team’s general manager. (Niqhil Velji - Twitter Screenshot)
#FireBenning movement gets off the ground in Metro Vancouver

Canucks fans raise enough money to fly banner over Metro Vancouver asking for team GM to be canned

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

A downed power line has sparked a brush fire along Yellow Point Road south of Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Vancouver Islanders warned of fire risk caused by dry conditions

As dry spell poised to end, officials warn of risks involved with backyard burning

Most Read