The Delta Town & Country Inn was identified by Corporation of Delta staff as the only suitable location in the municipality for a new entertainment and gaming facility. (James Smith photo)

The Delta Town & Country Inn was identified by Corporation of Delta staff as the only suitable location in the municipality for a new entertainment and gaming facility. (James Smith photo)

Delta gets preliminary approval for casino at Town & Country Inn

The controversial site is set to move ahead with facility proposals

Delta Town and Country Inn has been given preliminary approval as the site of a new gaming facility in Delta.

The B.C. Lottery Corporation announced that Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd. is set to move the Newton Community Gaming Centre to the South Delta location on Thursday, Sept. 7.

In November, 2016, the BCLC declared Delta its preferred location for a new gambling and entertainment facility south of the Fraser.

Related: Delta chosen as home for the South of Fraser region’s new casino

In the municipality’s non-binding expression of interest prior, the Corporation suggested the 11-acre Delta Town & Country Inn was the only location in Delta that would support a gaming facility, due to its distance from residential neighbourhoods and its accessibility through major roads like Highway 99 and Highway 17A.

“We didn’t want to have it located in North Delta, we didn’t want to have it located in downtown Ladner or downtown Tsawwassen,” Delta mayor Lois Jackson said. “That was our decision at the time.”

In the November announcement, the BCLC rejected the Town & Country Inn because of its distance from the Surrey market and its proximity to the River Rock Casino in Richmond. Instead, the BCLC suggested the casino be located east of Highway 91, south of Highway 17, west of King George Boulevard or north of Highway 10.

Related: Delta casino caught in location limbo

Richmond was decidedly opposed to the Delta Town & Country Inn location for the new casino.

On Nov. 25, 2016, Richmond council sent a report to the BCLC and the Corporation of Delta stating that Richmond was opposed to any casino at the Town & Country Inn. The report suggested that “any casino in Delta should be located sufficiently away from Richmond, so as not to negatively affect the city … or the exisiting River Rock Casino.”

“I still have those concerns,” Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie said. The Delta Town & Country Inn “is just up the highway from the River Rock and could form some unwanted encroachment.”

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

According to BCLC spokesperson Doug Cheng, the BCLC gave its approval for the Delta Town & Country Inn after listening to feedback from the community and municipality.

“We made this decision after getting clear feedback from Delta that the only suitable site on which it would consider a gambling and entertainment facility at this time is the Town & Country Inn,” Cheng said.

The BCLC and a third-party consultant did a detailed analysis of the Delta Town & Country Inn using existing player data, and found the proposed site would generate revenue without having significant impacts other gambling facilities in Richmond, Surrey and New Westminster.

Brodie said he was pleased the BCLC did an analysis, but he still has concerns.

“I’m not sure that I’m confident in their approach, but I’m pleased they took a good look at it,” he said.

Cheng also said the Delta Town and Country Inn would “better serve our players in the South of the Fraser region.”

“What we found was, in this particular region of the Fraser Valley, our players were under served,” he continued. “This was about better serving our players and growing our revenue, which will go back into the community.”

The new facility is expected to generate between $25 million and $50 million in revenue, according to a BCLC background document. The host local government receives 10 per cent of the net gaming income, meaning Delta could be seeing between $1.5 million and $3 million go back into the municipality.

The facility could also bring 700 new jobs to Delta and an estimated $70 million investment to the area, according to a Gateway Casinos press release. The release also said the project will provide 500 person-years of construction employment.

Gateway Casinos is now responsible for developing a proposal detailing the size, scope and amenities of the gambling and entertainment facility. If BCLC approves the facility proposal, it will be submitted to the Corporation of Delta for consideration.

“As much as they have made a decision … relative to their location and their preference, now we have to go through our process,” Jackson said.

“It will be a bit yet before we decide on what’s going to happen with the Corporation.”

-with files from James Smith