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TFN named as possible site for BCLC casino
A casino in Tsawwassen? It's not out of the realm of possibility according to comments from both sides.
Following Surrey council's rejection of a $100 million casino proposal by Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd. and the B.C. Lottery Corp, the latter's CEO Michael Graydon suggested they may look elsewhere for a casino site south of the Fraser River.
Graydon specifically made mention of the south end of Langley or southwest Delta, particularly in First Nations communities like Tsawwassen First Nation or Semiahmoo.
A proponent came before TFN in 2008 with the idea of building a casino, but it was rejected for lacking substance, said TFN's chief administrative officer Doug Raines.
"That's been probably the last time I think that there's been any discussions with that down here," he said, adding TFN probably wouldn't rule out hearing a new sales pitch.
"That would be a decision—if there was a formal application from BCLC to executive council—that the executive council would have to make."
Raines said the executive council and TFN continue to seek business opportunities. Their largest partners currently include Ivanhoe Cambridge and Property Group on their 1.8 million square foot mall development, and Aquilini Development Group on a 1,700-unit housing subdivision.
Although Graydon was unavailable for comment, a spokesperson for BCLC said the Crown corporation is now examining its options and determining the next steps.
"We know there is still a strong market for gambling entertainment south of the Fraser River, though we can’t speculate on specific options," said Laura Piva-Babcock. "We will communicate our plans once we have finalized the process and timeline."
That process is expected to be completed sometime in March.
Gateway Casinos had sought to move its temporary gambling licence on King George Boulevard to a new 60,000 square foot casino and resort at 10th Avenue and 168th Street, but council rejected the idea in a 5-4 vote that took place in the early morning hours of Jan. 19.
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts cited widespread community opposition to the development for council's decision.
The BCLC has stated it will not reapply for another location within Surrey and if it looks at TFN lands there's little the Corporation of Delta could do to oppose the development, as TFN operates much as a municipality with its own powers.
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson is betting her residents would be strongly opposed to any new casino proposed in one of their neighbourhoods.
"I think we'd have a lot of opposition to it," she said in reference to Graydon's mention of Delta.
"On the basis of my own gut feeling, I would prefer not to have one in my community. I know they're a wonderful cash cow, but money isn't everything."
Jackson said there are already "a lot" of casinos in the Lower Mainland.
— with files from Jeff Nagel, Surrey-North Delta Leader