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Casino opponents fight hard but uphill to galvanize action

February 15th, 2011 · 47 Comments

Vancouver has seen massive protests in the past over expanded gaming. This time, the opposition has been strangely slow to muster. I looked at why, in brief.

One thing I noted, but didn’t have spaceto go into, is the lack of political leadership.

Every party has a mixed record on this. Although the NPA led the charge against the Steve Wynn casino in the mid-1990s, the NPA’s two councillors voted differently on increasing the slots at Hastings Racetrack in 2004. Peter Ladner was against, while Sam Sullivan, in what was viewed as a mysterious about–face, supported them.

Opposing the Paragon Gaming proposal for the new casino is tricky for the NPA now, as well, because it was the NPA council that agreed to the province’s aggressive push to get the city to allow more density around BC Place in order to find a way to pay for the stadium’s renovations. At the time, people thought that would mean lots of condos.

If Concord Pacific — the only other bidder on the land besides Paragon Gaming — had been successful, that’s what might have happened. But, to no one’s suprise, they weren’t the successful bidder.

As for Vision — well, several of the Vision (then COPE) councillors also supported increased slots at both the racetrack and a casino at Edgewater under the then-leadership of Larry Campbell, who went on to become a director in his post-council life at the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. It was the most unpopular decision the COPE council made. But many union members were supportive of slots and casinos, as a way of preserving jobs.

And, according to the record, as the Georgia Straight noted, COPE Councillor David Cadman was also on the pro side of Edgewater casino vote in 2004. Ellen Woodsworth was absent, but she was getting a lot of pressure from women’s groups who received casino money to support it.

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