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Vancouver development permit board approves new casino site, mayor says will take extra precautions to ensure no gambling expansion

December 16th, 2013 · 23 Comments

In case anyone was wondering, this just out:

Statement from the Mayor on relocation of casino




I have been very clear that I am opposed to any expansion of gambling in the City of Vancouver. Today’s decision by the Development Permit Board ensures that the proponent will have to align operations with the concerns raised in the recent Provincial Health Officer’s Report on Gambling.


Before a new casino can begin construction, the proponents have to come back with a plan that addresses the health concerns raised by Dr. Perry Kendall. If they don’t, it cannot proceed.


I’m pleased to see the DP Board direction to the applicant to develop a management plan that will address Dr. Kendall’s recommendations, including issues such as access to alcohol, the availability and number of ATMs at the casino, and the need for a public health strategy to minimize risk and harm.


These steps go far beyond anything previously mandated by the city when it comes to gaming and public health.

Even with these conditions to the development permit, I’ve heard clear concerns from the community about the potential for future councils to expand gambling.


Given these public concerns, many of which were raised at today’s Development Permit Board meeting, I will ask City staff to identify further measures to prevent any expansion of gambling in the future on this site, including  amendments to by-laws or the Northeast False Creek Official Development Plan that will restrict the allowable casino floor space to the existing proposal.


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  • jimbo

    I wish Vision would allow expansion of gambling in Vancouver.

    It would make the city more fun.

    We are a tourist town. We should embrace gambling!

  • We are not a tourist town Jimbo @ # 1! We are a minor resource town in a petro-state!

    Accordingly as the mountains and the sea recede from view a little W is squeezed out by a tinseled monster for the rich and a chunk of concrete for the poor. How contemptuous can we get?

    Then along comes a toothache on the river and a pseudo Parisienne alleyway to relieve the boredom of shop-’til-ya-drop on, errrrr, thu Canada line.

    And now, this thing and, wait for it, no more gambling until no one is looking!

    I thought the AGO on Dundas West took the bait for anti-urban or is it the ROM . . . . . .
    on Bloor. But that was another country and besides the wench is dead!

    Who are the people that put these monstrous contraptions together?

    Do they give out medals for ugly?

    Truly, ugly people design ugly buildings! Oh yes, they need the money. QED!

  • rph

    I don’t know, the whole thing seems a bit hypocritical.

    I am assuming that the revenue from gambling in Vancouver is already targeted to address the “need for a public health strategy to minimize risk and harm”.

    Over the years Vancouver has received over $48 million from Edgewater casino, and another $7 million from Hastings Park.

    That is one heck of a city contribution towards a well funded public health strategy.

  • Frank Ducote

    For one, I am quite amazed that the sole focus of the controversy seems to be about the size of the gaming floor. Although he had a great opportunity to voice concern on CBC yesterday, architectural critic Trevor Boddy also only voiced concern ovr the so-called resort aspects of the project. Why not comment on the architecture when you had the chance, Trevor?

    At least former director of planning Brent Toderian took the inititive to express his dismay publicly about the form and characer, or lack of it, of the proposed design.

    I totally agree with this sentiment. The scale and massing of this development is impossible to understand, intentionally so it would seem. The very placelessness or anywhereness of the architectural expression, its black boxness, its lack of response to location, climate and setting is incredibly dissapointing. The absence of any apparent regard for the pedestrian scale and expereience is also quite shocking.

    I’m fairly sanguine that the conditions imposed by the DP Board will not address architecture in any profound way. This is, to me, at the same level of long-lasting insult to the City as is the number of slots.

    Last, this leads to another point tht has been touched on on this blog from time to time – where is the voice for urban design and architectural criticism in this city? The Sun and Province offer nobody, and the Globe & Mail is written from a Toronto vantagepoint.

    We deserve better.

  • brilliant

    @Frank Ducote-the blank box anywhereness is intentional. You don’t have to be in Vancouver to “enjoy” gambling. Why anyone thinks it will improve the tourist experience us baffling. I also find it hard to believe Edgewater is going to be content to double the floorspace but keep the same amount of slots. What do they need all that space for, walkers and scooters?

  • Ms. Jones

    Frank #4 good comment.
    Usually, in this city, majority of architects, planners, “urbanists’ in general, tend to not criticize powers that be, or be too critical of some of their colleagues designs. It could turn against them one day… their spine is too soft. That, of course, until the day they have nothing left to lose. Trevor’s agenda with the City of Vancouver is full, Brent’s not so much.
    During the time he was the Director of Planning he basically served the same pastrami…
    Having said that, we don’t want to concentrate too much on the exterior architecture when the big white elephant is hidden smartly inside, on the casino’s slot machines floor. Correct?

  • Paul

    I seem to recall that with the previous proposal Paragon needed to expand the number of gambling machines and tables to make the project viable. Now, with an expanded gaming floor and no expansion of the machines or tables, how is this any more viable?

    My thoughts on this are:

    1. To get a firsthand sense of the effect of gaming on communities, hang out outside of the current casino for 30mins or so at 7am….

    2. City council is not stupid enough to think that an expanded floor will not mean expanded gaming (and the ills it brings). Hearing the mayor trying to convince us he was that stupid on the radio this morning was pretty insulting.

  • Frank Ducote

    Ms. Jones@ 6: that seems to be the main concern, correct. Maybe as Trevor called it more of a Trojan Horse, not a white elephant.

  • Terry M

    “2. City council is not stupid enough to think that an expanded floor will not mean expanded gaming (and the ills it brings). Hearing the mayor trying to convince us he was that stupid on the radio this morning was pretty insulting”
    I second that!
    They are.
    He is.
    Insulting’s the word.

  • Guest

    I think the architecture here is all about the interior spaces. There’s a massive atrium up through the middle and a grand staircase leading through the building from the BC Place concourse (the City’s concourse circulation study seems to ignore that people will also exit the stadium through the casino).

    Sounds like the detractors want “fine grain” on the building, which would end up making it look like any condo building in the city. That’s exactly what the project proponents do not want. They want to it stand out.

    At least it doesn’t look like Paris, the Venetian or the Belaggio – those would look incredibly out of place too.

    Expect the VAG design to similarly “stand out” – it won’t be clad in mullioned spandrel with balconies, either.

  • Jay

    I’m not an architect or an urban landscape expert, so I don’t quite understand Frank Ducote’s response that “the scale and massing of this development is impossible to understand, intentionally so it would seem. The very placelessness or anywhereness of the architectural expression, its black boxness, its lack of response to location, climate and setting is incredibly dissapointing. The absence of any apparent regard for the pedestrian scale and experience is also quite shocking.”

    The scale of the building appears to be in line with the scale of BC Place. It steps down in scale from BC Place, but to build something right beside BC Place at a pedestrian scale would look ridiculous in my opinion. The stadium area is a dead zone 99% of the time, so this hotel/casino will actually bring some pedestrian activity to an otherwise dead part of town.

    Yes it’s a flashy building (gold coloured glass, not black), and it has a Vegas flair to it, but plain jane DT Vancouver could use some flash.

    I actually wouldn’t mind the option of going out to a Las Vegas style casino in Vancouver. For the vast majority of us, it would be a fun night out.

  • Frank Ducote

    Be careful what you wish for, cuz it looks like you just might get it.

    “Black box” is a rhetorical conceit, meaning inward-focused, like all casinos. So its gold, is it. But not Vegas? Hmm. As a detractor, I guess I am also hopeful that it won’t be the worst thing ever to hit Vancouver. Nobody ever said the alternative is to look like any other condo, so come on Guest@10, you can be a little more thoughtful than that. The BIG project at Pacific and Granville is certainly different from the norm and I for one am really looking forward to its realization. Maybe they should have gotten Bjarke Ingels or Thim Mayne to design it. People who know how to handle size with interest at the same time.

  • Bill

    @Paul #7

    I don’t have strong feelings about gambling one way or the other although anytime you have people lining up to pay a voluntary tax can’t be all bad. However, I am curious as to how “all the ills gambling brings” is increased when there is already a gambling venue there. Presumably problem gamblers are already frequenting the existing facilities so how is putting in more slots in the same location going to increase problem gambling?

  • rph

    If the tables and slots are not full 24/7 then there is room for increased usage. Nicer newer and fancier surroundings will bump up foot traffic and usage.

  • Spot on Frank. Thank you for raising concerns such as the quality, or lack, of good urban and project design.

    And also Paul, 7:

    “with the previous proposal Paragon needed to expand the number of gambling machines and tables to make the project viable. Now, with an expanded gaming floor and no expansion of the machines or tables, how is this any more viable?”

  • Frank @ #4 was it not Trev “architectural critic Trevor Boddy also only voiced concern over the so-called resort aspects of the project ” who coined the phrase “resort city“?

    Spot on Frank.Bill @ #15 Thanqu for raising concerns, or lack thereof, such as the quality of good urban and project design. Urban design has always been the most talked about and least practiced aspect of the development approval process.

    The CoV has had an urban design component for as long as I remember yet it’s influence eludes me.

    In post #2 I failed to point out how respect for the nature of figure ground, as Transik ( puts it, is of no importance in the contemporary urban debate: certainly not in this town.

    This dark and clumsy up side down U-turn does much damage to the already taxed city skyline. Let’s hope some one one in high places makes a U-turn and soon!

    Our concept of the city has become the shopping mall as huge isolated and environmentally toxic, spend what you do not have, technique using every perfidiously control mechanism handed down from Edward Bernays and his more up-dated and pernicious off shoots.

    Then in contradiction comes the encouragement of gambling addiction with all its parsimonious excuses.

    As I wrote in #2How contemptuous can we get?” when it comes to a well-integrated, socially responsible sense of urban place? That end of False Creek is vying with Oakridge’s design proposals for La Vache noir and consequent droppings!

    And from what I can tell this errrr Up-turned U-turn new C$535m Edgewater casino is one of the most insidious intrusions and anyone who believes the city’s gambling control rhetoric has a mind more sclerotic than what’s left of Brewery Creek!

    As for the gambling habit, one has to ask what the hell else is there to do in this benighted town?

    Bill IMHO at this stage discussing the esoteric aspects of urban design is quite irrelevant. Grotesque, scale-less, intrusive, this concept as an economic driver is enough to drive anyone to drink, drugs and DUI.

  • PS Are we to suppose that gambling is another economic drivers along with fracking and waiting tables?

    If we are relying on fracking to eliminate the Provincial debt within the decade then I have a reminder for Premier Clark.

    Fracking can be carried out anywhere Madame Premier. If fracking can be done in Manchester UK . . .

    . . . literally it can be done anywhere!

    And if we are relying on gambling to fill the void when the penny drops we are in for an equally devastating disappointment. Gambling, too, can be done anywhere.


  • rph

    Roger – there will be a day where gambling will slip out of the control of our elected city burghers. The provincial Liberals have just announced another easing of liquor laws where your neighbourhood restaurant or cafe can be a defacto pub.

    Can we see a day where a few slots may be added here and there? You betcha!

  • Guest

    Frank @12 – the BIG project lends a lot of its fine grain to the balconies – something that a casino hotel will never have for fear of depressed jumpers or drunks falling off of them.

    This project is a lot better than the standard condo response to a large interior space – as seen in the windowless painted concrete box at Electric Avenue / Scotiabank Theatre complex on Hornby, Smithe & Burrard.

    The glass on the hotel towers looks to be better than the typical transparent condo glass favoured by City Hall.

  • Frank Ducote

    Guest@19 – I remain hopeful that you are right. A significant amount of design attention has been paid to the public realm that will certainly improve the pedestrian experience in this unconnected part of the downtown/waterfront area.

  • Just to add my two cents to this… I prefer the Monaco model: One Casino.

    We have one. It is ideally located on the flight path to YVR. It is transit friendly and has—on a site that was going nowhere—managed to attract a fair bit of development.

    If this is a food fight over municipal revenues, we should deal with that at in Victoria. Otherwise, I think I know what any health officer’s report will say about gambling: it is addictive and should be regulated.

  • F.H.Leghorn

    Efforts to control or regulate gambling are as doomed as efforts to control or regulate the use or sale of illegal drugs. You don’t need a government-approved casino to gamble (or a government-approved plant to smoke or snort).
    Both of these campaigns are moral crusades. To succeed they must dispense with facts or logic. This guarantees failure.

  • Frank, Roger, this ‘proposal’ is a new low in Vancouver with respect to a design solution that interacts with its neighbours and is responsive to its natural environment. In fact it reminds one of an earlier urban blight, the black towers and bath tub modeling of Pacific Centre.

    You’re right, both of these projects were allowed to proceed on the acceptance by the City of the premise that they must drag everyone inside with the consequence that any interface with their neighbours was non-existant (assuming the casino goes through and VV’s normal ignorance of urban design impacts and sensitivities).

    We’ve been trying to deal with the negative consequences of Pacific Centre for more than 40 years. I was on the design Panel in 1972 when Pacific Centre 2 came up. We required that phase to open to and interface with the street, but the major damage had already been done.

    Look what the new tenant is doing to what was the bath tub. This is an expensive fix isn’t it?

    So, it makes sense to make the same mistake again.