As reported in the Delta Optimist not only is Metro Vancouver’s Delta on the receiving end of a new Provincial ten lane bridge, a 1.2 million square foot regional mall and a 550,000 square foot local mall on First Nations territory and a Port expansion, it looks like they will be hosting a Casino too.
Delta is the B.C. Lottery Corporation’s “preferred host” for a new gambling centre. Delta was chosen because of strong market potential, community plans and transportation access. As part of the revamping of Surrey’s Newton Community Gaming Centre (read a bingo place) the lottery corporation asked Delta, the Tsawwassen First Nation and Surrey to submit expressions of interest. Surrey said no, and Delta submitted the Town and Country Hotel site owned by Ron Toigo and Shato Holdings (of White Spot and Tsawwassen Springs) on the east side of Highway 99 at the Massey Tunnel. The Tsawwassen First Nations does have an entertainment zoned area but requires an amendment to allow for casino inclusion in their by-law, and did not specify the location for their proposed casino.
There is good money in gambling, where the Province estimates a casino can create 25 to 50 million dollars in incremental revenues. The local host government get ten per cent of net gaming income-which would mean a handy annual income estimated to be about 1.5 to 3 milion dollars a year. Casinos do however have a negative impact on property values and surrounding property use. As reported in the Atlantic monthly a casino is an all absorbing business that does not release its customers until they have no money.
The lottery corporation felt that the Delta proposed location next to Highway 99 was too close to Richmond’s River Rock casino, and requires “a more suitable location that, combined with size and scope details, will form a gaming facility proposal for Delta’s consideration.” However in the Surrey Leader Delta’s Chief Administrative Officer observed “It’s isolated, it’s not near schools, it’s not in the communities [and] people won’t be driving there through communities. The area’s sited for upgrades with the new [bridge] coming in, so to us it’s a perfect site.”
Delta’s chosen casino site at the Town and Country Inn site may change. As Mayor Jackson states “We’re in a very middle-of-the-road position. We’ll go through the process and if something comes forward that looks amenable, obviously we would take that forward to council and go from there. Nothing is cast in stone in any way, shape or form…it would still all have to go to public hearing.”