The city of Surrey hosted a casino public consultation meeting on January 14 that pundits say was the largest gathering of locals for a civic hearing in the city’s entire history. There were over 500 people who attended the rally, yet less than 20 percent were able to speak to the crowd and express their opinions about the proposed Gateway casino. As a result, a second meeting was added to the proceedings scheduled for tonight – if the first meeting was any guide, councilors should prepare for a third extension.
The casino proposal is a $100 investment pledge from Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd, and would establish a 60,000 sq foot entertainment centre at the corner of 10 Avenue and 160 street, near the southern border of the city limits. The investment will fund the building of a high quality hotel, entertainment and convention centre, and a casino which the BCLC says will provide $3 million annually to Surrey’s economy.
However, residents in the designated community are vehemently opposed to the casino plans yet supported the proposal when Surrey council submitted the zoning law application two years ago. The Semiahmoo First Nations tribe says they weren’t consulted about the casino when it was first proposed, and are threatening a lawsuit if the investment does move forward.
Surrey resident Susan Lindenberger says the public wasn’t provided all the details of the proposal two years ago. “We are all tired of listening to the half-truths spun by those who would foist this casino upon us.”
Casino supporters believe the investment will secure jobs, infrastructure, and help transform Surrey into a tourist oriented destination. The BCLC must approve the casino license before the proposal can move ahead – the organization has suggested it will approve the motion but only if Surrey city council votes in favour of the casino first.
The first public consultation meeting attracted a high volume of opponents, and council is preparing for more of the same at tonight’s meeting.