Plans to build a new casino in Delta remain up in the air as the municipality and B.C. Lottery Corporation try to agree on a suitable location.
On Nov. 9, 2016, the BCLC announced Delta as its preferred host local government for a potential new gambling and entertainment facility south of the Fraser River, citing strong market potential, community plans and transportation access.
Since then, little has been said about whether the proposal will move forward.
“We haven’t heard anything, and I’m sure with the change in government things are being reviewed,” Delta CAO George Harvie told the Reporter this week.
In its non-binding expression of interest submitted to the BCLC, the Corporation of Delta identified the 11-acre Delta Town & Country Inn property at the intersection of Highway 99 and Highway 17A as the only location they would support for development of a gaming facility and entertainment complex.
However, in its Nov. 9 announcement, the BCLC rejected Delta’s choice of location, saying it “is not a suitable location due to its distance from the identified market opportunity and its proximity to the River Rock Casino Resort” in Richmond.
“We originally advised the BCLC that we would only be interested in the Town and Country site, and we’ve held firm on that,” Harvie said.
A report by City of Richmond staff released later in November. says that Greg Walker, BCLC’s director of public affairs, “has advised that the BCLC is not interested in having the casino negatively affect Richmond, or disrupt or take customers away from the existing River Rock Casino, as they will be looking to develop a separate casino market in North Delta, south of the Fraser River.”
Walker said the new facility may be located in an area east of Highway 91, south of the South Fraser Perimeter Road, west of King George Highway and north of Highway 10.
In an emailed statement to the Reporter last week, spokesperson Angela Law said the BCLC is currently working with the Corporation of Delta and Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd. to select an appropriate location, and that it remains committed to hearing from all key stakeholders throughout the process.
Law declined to identify any specific sites being considered, but said once a location is selected, Gateway Casinos will develop a proposal detailing the size, scope and amenities of the new facility for BCLC’s review and approval. Once approved by BCLC, the proposal will be submitted to the Corporation of Delta for consideration.
The potential casino would be a relocation of Surrey’s Newton Community Gaming Centre and would be expanded to include more gambling and entertainment options. (The NCGC only offers bingo and lottery games.) Gateway Casinos, the private-sector service provider of the NCGC, would own or lease the new facility on BCLC’s behalf, and operate it on a day-to-day basis.
In early June 2016, the BCLC had asked local governments to submit expressions of interest in hosting a new casino. The Corporation of Delta and the Tsawwassen First Nation both threw their hats in the ring, while the City of Surrey declined.
In an interview with the Reporter just after Delta’s decision to submit an expression of interest, Harvie said the municipality wanted the facility so it could get the financial benefits, and not just the drawbacks.
“If the neighbouring municipalities, particularly the Tsawwassen First Nation, are given the casino license…then we would receive all the traffic issues that would be associated with it,” Harvie said. “If there are police issues — we police the Tsawwassen First Nation — we would be receiving those, and the Tsawwassen First Nation would be receiving the host fee that is provided by the BCLC.”
Those same concerns —increased traffic and policing costs — were also cited by the City of Richmond in its opposition to any casino being built in Delta.
If the BCLC and the Corporation of Delta can agree on a suitable location, Gateway’s subsequent proposal would then go before Delta council and be subject to the same processes as any other development, including several stages of public consultation.
However, under B.C.’s Gaming Control Act, Delta would also have to ask for input from local governments whose borders fall within five kilometres of the proposed facility regarding issues like infrastructure, policing costs and traffic.
Similarly, if Delta has to amend its official community plan, then under B.C.’s Local Government Act it must consider if consultation is required with any municipality adjacent to the area covered by the change.
If, after all that consultation, Delta council approves the application, the BCLC will make its final decision about whether or not to proceed with the project.