(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  

Just Posted

PHOTOS: West Shore students rally for 10,000 Tonight food drive

Students, community members gather, sort food donations

Saanich seeks contractors for Shelbourne Street upgrade project

The three-phase project is expected to begin in 2020

Saanich allows retail sale of recreational cannabis for specific zones

Amendments to the 2003 bylaw allows retail sale of recreational cannabis in Saanich

Brotherston sentenced to three years in prison for Sooke home invasion

Home invasion took place on Feb. 9 and left one man with face and head injuries

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

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

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

One man dead after car crash in Nanaimo

One person died, another was injured in the accident which happened Wednesday on Nanaimo Lakes Road

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

Most Read