Delta councillors ‘incensed’ over Richmond mayor’s letter opposing any new casinos in the region

In a letter to BCLC CEO Jim Lightbody, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie outlined his city's opposition a new casino south of the Fraser River.

Delta councillors were surprised and

Delta councillors were quick to denounce a letter from the City of Richmond opposing any new casino south of the Fraser River at Monday’s council meeting.

In a letter to B.C. Lottery Corporation CEO Jim Lightbody forwarded to Delta’s mayor and council, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie outlined his government’s position on the matter of a new gaming facility in the region.

“…Be advised that: (1) the City of Richmond is opposed to any casino south of the Fraser River; and (2) the City of Richmond should be fully consulted and given at least 90 days to respond to any future Gaming Control Act and Local Government Act (e.g., for Official Community Plan amendment) notices regarding the proposed casino,” the letter said.

On Nov. 9, the BCLC announced the Corporation of Delta as its preferred host local government for a potential new gambling and entertainment facility, selecting Delta based on a variety of factors including strong market potential, community plans and transportation access.

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. Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd., the private-sector service provider of the Newton Community Gaming Centre, would own or lease the new facility on BCLC’s behalf, and operate it on a day-to-day basis.

Several Delta councillors expressed their surprise at Brodie’s letter and commented on the inappropriateness of one municipality inserting itself into the business of another.

“Quite frankly, I was stunned to see this letter,” said Coun. Bruce McDonald. “For a neighbouring community to write a letter to the Lottery Corporation – whether a casino comes to Delta or not, I don’t even know if I’m in favour of that – but I have never in all of my years of doing this stuff seen where one community is asking a government agency to not allow a neighbouring community to have access to something.”

“I just had to scratch my head. They do have a casino, right?” said Coun. Jeannie Kanakos. “So they’ve got one [and] they don’t want us to have one.”

According to a BCLC background document, a new gaming facility in the region could generate between $25 million and $50 million in incremental revenue. Host local governments would receive 10 per cent of net gaming income in their communities, meaning a casino could bring the Corporation of Delta about $1.5 million to $3 million per year.

Richmond is home to River Rock Casino Resort, which accounted for over $19 million in municipal revenue in 2015. Some Delta councillors implied that Mayor Brodie and council are more concerned that a casino in Delta could eat into River Rock’s business and, by extension, into Richmond’s income.

“I mean, we’ve known for a long time that Mayor Brodie doesn’t believe anything of consequence lives on this side of the river and we shouldn’t build a bridge, but…what’s next? We shouldn’t have a car lot if someone wants to put one up and Richmond thinks that’s not in their favour? I am absolutely incensed!” McDonald said.

“They should stay over on their side of the river and do what they want, and if somebody builds something that’s in competition with them, they [should] try and win on the basis that everybody else does. This is absurd.”

Council resolved to have staff draft a letter to Minister of Finance Michael de Jong describing Delta’s position opposing the City of Richmond’s correspondence and to send copies to Mayor Brodie, Richmond council and the BCLC.

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