Saanich folded its hand and left the table as council unanimously agreed to end discussions with the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) about bringing a casino to the municipality.
In mid-March, Mayor Fred Haynes and Coun. Susan Brice decided to resume efforts to bring the region’s second gaming and entertainment facility to Saanich as the district began eyeing post-pandemic economic recovery.
Noting a lack of correspondence from the public on the matter since the former council expressed interest in 2015, and the current council’s reiterated interest in 2019, the pair felt it best to reignite the conversation with the community.
In March 2020 the BCLC offered to attend a council meeting to discuss the proposed casino and answer councillors’ questions. The meeting was postponed amid the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Saanich staff sought direction from council regarding the next steps.
Council received an influx of letters from residents both for and against the idea. Some pointed out a gaming and entertainment facility would bring new economic opportunities and that the municipality would receive 10 per cent of the annual profit. Others expressed concerns about the effects such a facility would have on gambling addicts and the potential for money laundering.
After hearing from the community, doing their own research and considering a staff report on the matter, council agreed the economic benefits of a casino did not outweigh the potential harms, Haynes said.
BREAKING: There will be no Casino in #Saanich!
A casino is not part of my Vision for Saanich and in my conversations with the public it is not part of their vision either.
I am glad council voted to focus on inclusive prosperity, housing 4 all, & community vibrancy initiatives
— Zac de Vries – Saanich Councillor (@zacdevries) May 4, 2021
A representative from the BCLC attended the May 3 council meeting, but Haynes said council will send a formal letter.
He remains interested in bringing a hotel and entertainment facility to eastern Saanich without a casino.
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