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Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson speaks against a proposal to build an expanded casino in downtown Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday April 19, 2011. (Darryl Dyck For The Globe and Mail/Darryl Dyck For The Globe and Mail)
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson speaks against a proposal to build an expanded casino in downtown Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday April 19, 2011. (Darryl Dyck For The Globe and Mail/Darryl Dyck For The Globe and Mail)

Vancouver mayor vows to end casino expansion Add to ...

Vancouver’s mayor says if his party is re-elected in next month’s civic election, he’ll ensure there’s no expansion of gambling in the city.

Gregor Robertson kicked off his campaign with a pledge to continue his opposition to a proposed mega-casino in Vancouver’s downtown, but also said he would oppose any other expansion proposals.

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“In a campaign, it is often just as important to say what you won’t do as it is to say what you will do, and Vision Vancouver won’t allow expanded gaming in our city,” Mr. Robertson said in a news release.

The proposal for a hotel and casino destination in the city’s downtown near BC Place stadium was announced last year and drew heavy public debate, with people vocally advocating for and against casino expansion.

Las Vegas-based Paragon Gaming planned to replace an existing casino near the stadium as part of a huge redevelopment of the area, which would also include a hotel.

The existing casino has 600 slot machines, and Paragon wanted to double that, as well as add 75 more gaming tables.

That plan was unanimously defeated by city council. The redevelopment project is expected to go ahead without the slot expansion.

The mayor has been trying to draw clear lines between his Vision Vancouver government and the alternative offered by the Non-Partisan Association in the Nov. 19 election.

That party’s candidate, Suzanne Anton, voted with Mr. Robertson to put a moratorium on the expansion project at BC Place stadium, but she has also criticized his handling of the matter.

On Wednesday, she said she and the rest of council voted for a moratorium on the casino expansion project with conditions. It wasn’t a vote to kill the project, she said.

“The conditions were … the public had to agree, there had to be public acceptance … and B.C. lotteries had to demonstrate security of the operations. Once those conditions were satisfied, said council, an application could come back to council,” she said.

“Now what’s Gregor doing? Is he saying he didn’t believe in his own vote? He doesn’t stand by his own vote?”

But Mr. Robertson said Ms. Anton is not taking a coherent stand and not listening to members of her own party who are ardently opposed to the casino expansion.

Shortly after Mr. Robertson released his platform statement, the Canadian Gaming Association issued a news release noting that gaming is a growth industry fuelled by consumer demand.

The release said gaming accounts for 253,487 Canadian jobs.

However, a coalition of community and social groups formed an organization called Vancouver Not Vegas to oppose the casino.



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