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Dr. Paul Carsley has advised Vancouver City Council to reject a proposal to expand the downtown casino. (Peggy Chen/iStockphoto)
Dr. Paul Carsley has advised Vancouver City Council to reject a proposal to expand the downtown casino. (Peggy Chen/iStockphoto)

Paragon warns jobs at risk if B.C. casino expansion not approved Add to ...

As Vancouver city council prepared to resume its marathon public hearing into a large casino expansion, owners of the existing casino said that facility and hundreds of jobs could well disappear if its plans are not approved.

"The flow of gaming revenues to the city and permanence of over 600 jobs which currently exist at Edgewater are not guaranteed," said Paragon Gaming corporate secretary John Cahill, in a letter sent Monday to councillors and Mayor Gregor Robertson.

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"Council needs to understand that as it considers its decision on this application."

At issue is Paragon's plans for a new casino adjacent to BC Place with a tripling of gambling capacity over its more modest Edgewater casino at the nearby Plaza of Nations.

The lease for the Plaza of Nations site expires in 2013, and Mr. Cahill reiterated that Paragon will not seek an extension of the lease, if its proposed BC Place casino is not approved.

In his letter to Mayor Robertson, Mr. Cahill said many opponents of the expansion are losing sight of the fact that the Edgewater Casino could disappear as well, should council turn down the Las Vegas-based company's expansion plans.

He discounted a recent media report that Paragaon's Plaza of Nations landlord, Canadian Metropolitan Properties, might accommodate the Edgewater Casino in its own development plans for the land.

Mr. Cahill said that CMP had made it clear that its main focus is on residential use, along with a 200-room hotel and a practice hockey rink for the Vancouver Canucks.

"All that would render the CMP site as unacceptable for Paragon's long stated plans for developing a destination casino complex in Vancouver," Mr. Cahill said.

The prospect of Western Canada's largest casino in the heart of Vancouver has aroused a storm of opposition, with nearly 200 speakers registered to speak at the public hearing, which was set to begin again Monday evening.

Unions relishing the number of jobs the project would provide and leading business organizations support the development, which also includes two large hotels and numerous restaurants.

Two days of hearings have been held already.

Invited back to answer questions at Monday night's session is Vancouver medical health officer Dr. John Carsley.

Dr. Carsley told council last week that there was a potential risk of increased problem gambling if the casino expansion went ahead.

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