The politics of the Paragon casino no one is discussing

Post by Mike Klassen in

41 comments

hi-110224-paragon-casino
Things are not looking good for the Paragon development

Yesterday evening I was walking along Hamilton Street among the tony hair salons and restaurants of Yaletown. Walking by along the narrow sidewalk were two women, well-dressed and in their fifties, in conversation. I only heard one snippet:

Woman 1: "I don't know why the government feels that it needs more money from gambling."

Woman 2: "Yeah, I wonder about that too."

It's not as though I needed more evidence that the discussion about the Paragon casino proposal at BC Place has gone into the mainstream consciousness, thanks mostly to the Vancouver Not Vegas protesters, and media chasing the controversy. Until only a few weeks ago this issue was hardly on the radar.

In fact, when Tim Stevenson spoke to media back in November raising concerns about the increase in the number of slot machines at the Paragon development, I'm led to believe that you could count the calls into City Hall about it on one hand.

So how did this issue become so controversial, and so many people see the need to line up against it? My own personal poll of friends, associates and family members has been almost universally ambivalent about the casino. People can gamble all over the place, including at home on their computer, they say, so what's the big deal?

The proposal to redevelop the site beside BC Place has been in the works for nearly two and a half years. Now as the matter goes to public hearing, it has the appearance of dying a slow death. It could be a major setback for the City, which I will explain further below.

A group called The Alliance for Arts and Culture have been particularly vocal in condeming this proposal. Executive Director Amir Ali Alibhai spoke to council and said that his organization would not take any grants from the expanded casino even if they were offered. Observers point out that the group still wants as much money as it can get from other gambling facilities in the Province, and happily took it from Edgewater Casino.

This afternoon the Alliance in partnership with The BC Association for Charitable Gaming sent out a joint press release asking that Minister of Housing and Social Development Rich Coleman be fired by Premier designate Christy Clark. Coleman is the key decision maker around gambling matters in B.C., as well as the person who signs the cheques for social housing and homeless shelter funding.

The Alliance has the appearance of overplaying its hand. While they may have a legitimate beef with the Province over cuts to arts grants, which happened largely because of the economic downturn, it hardly makes sense for them to be calling for a Minister's head. Not even the opposition NDP have gone that far.

Last week Rich Coleman signalled that arts funding was on its way back up, but clearly not fast enough for the leadership of the Arts Alliance. This group which purports to represent groups like the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver Symphony is weighing into a political minefield which is unlikely to end well for them.

My guess is that Premier designate Clark will not receive their recommendation kindly, and it will set their cause back even further.

I always say if you want to know what Vision Vancouver are thinking, then read Allen Garr. Garr often sits down with Meggs, Magee and Ballem to get info straight from the horse's mouth, and they know that the Vancity bank director/columnist will almost always give them a positive spin.

Though Garr opined a few weeks ago that the casino was a done deal, today's column says that it's currently dead on arrival.

Last weekend, before the public hearings began, the city sat down with the province (I’m not at liberty to say who) to deliver the message that this dog won’t hunt. As one person who attended the meeting on behalf of the city said, “We told them the package stinks.”

I find it very interesting that after over two and a half years since this project was originally proposed that the Vision government are asking the Province to sweeten the deal. Was this a deliberate strategy? There are some signals that it might have been.

This whole half-billion dollar project has been thick with politics, and I'm going to try to raise some key questions that have crossed my mind over the last few days about it.

  1. Is the casino debate about social class? I said in yesterday's 24 Hours column that the loudest voices opposed to the casino are people from the creative class, not those who work or patronize these establishments. Artists and architects don't mix with union wage-earning single moms who serve highballs, or an old-timer who likes to play slots, and visa versa. In fact, the former often look down on the latter.
  2. With the advent of online gambling, anyone with an addiction can spend all their money in the comfort of their own home. Why then is a destination casino any better or worse?
  3. Dr. John Carsley from Vancouver Coastal Health met with media this week and explained that they were advising against the casino expansion. But he continued by stating that the Province is underfunding gambling addictions counselling when compared to other jurisdictions. Was that political comment intended to get Victoria to kick in more funding?
  4. The most vocal anti-casino media outlet from the get-go is the Vision-backing Vancouver Observer blog. Why did they take such a persistent opposing editorial viewpoint on an item which would directly impact the party they support?
  5. Many were surprised when Rich Coleman gave extra money for shelters to Vancouver last year after saying he wouldn't. Was there a quid pro quo from the BC government for the City of Vancouver to pass this development in return for support for social housing dollars and shelter funding?
  6. The existing Edgewater Casino has operated with little concern by the public for almost seven years. If it can't cross the street inside our entertainment district, then where else should this go?
  7. Dianne Watts remarked at the ULI's Vancouver 2050 event on Thursday that she would love to have a destination casino and entertainment complex in the City of Surrey. Why is Vancouver not protecting its financial interests and the threat of losing these things to other cities?
  8. This project has been in the works for over two years, and the word "casino" is spelled out several times in the 2008 proposal to council. Why did Vision Vancouver not raise concerns about this development earlier?
  9. One of the early complaints about the development were the two squat hotel towers, which are a result of the site zoning which limits height to protect a view of the North Shore mountains from Cambie Bridge. Is the site zoning and view corridors policy limiting the potential for a more dramatic built form on the site?
  10. I've heard that the business community is foresquare behind this project. Where are supporters from the business community?
  11. If Paragon's proposal fails, then what is long term economic strategy for Vancouver's lucrative entertainment district?
  12. What message does it send to the business community when an applicant goes for over two years and gets stopped dead in its tracks by a protest? Furthermore, what does it mean for the City in terms of getting dollars for needed infrastructure and social housing from the Province?

None of this excuses the developer Paragon for their mishandling of their public relations and the fact that they ignored the surrounding community, who reached out to them and were rebuffed. Lots of blame to go around, in other words.

Someone joked to me had Paragon put a green roof and solar panels in this building, it would have been a slam dunk as there is no way Gregor could have said no to it. Only look at Hizzonner's fist pumping at the Telus Garden announcement this week. Too late for that, I guess.

Vancouver already has a reputation among developers as a needlessly complicated place to get work done. Our city's economy relies very heavily on the revenue produced by those arenas over the long term. If this project goes south, it will be interesting to see what impact it could have politically and economically for the City of Vancouver.

UPDATE: Earlier I erroneously wrote that Linda Solomon of the Vancouver Observer was "a key financial backer." I meant to say "the sister of" and have corrected the above statement. I stand by my suggestion that there are questions about the independence of VO when it comes to anything to do with Vision Vancouver.

- post by Mike. Follow @MikeKlassen on Twitter, or @CityCaucus.

41 Comments

I guess my problem with gambling is because of its links with organized crime.Well documented world wide.
We have enough problems in this City.
I am puzzled how Minister Coleman can be in charge of gaming, social housing, addiction services etc.
Sounds like a conflict of interest within ministries.
Get gaming revenues up, but oh,we should also treat gambling problems.
Strange province we live in.

"While they may have a legitimate beef with the Province over cuts to arts grants, which happened largely because of the economic downturn"

The Basi/Virk buy-out alone could have paid for more than a year of the Bard on the Beach's total budget.

There was money for the arts. Not funding the arts was a choice. As I would be wont to say to my kid, pinning it on the economy is an excuse, not a reason.

"What message does it send to the business community when an applicant goes for two years and gets stopped by a protest?"

It says its high time the city stop spot rezoning and begin paying attention to long-term community planning, and business should become sensitive to the views of the community if they wish variance form the approved sizes and uses in the zoning bylaws

"What does it mean for the City in terms of getting dollars for needed infrastructure and social housing from the Province?"

It means the City has to learn how to generate money some other way, including (gasp) trimming the budget elsewhere if necessary

"Is the debate about social class?"
Not the last time I checked, but what do I know. Apparently I don't mix well with certain kinds.


@Chris Keam

Very true and then add the cost of the payoffs that have just started as Christy reconfigures Victoria to her liking.

I was thinking of watching a vampire movie with my son tonight but it's starting to feel too close to home.

Hear hear Douglas! Your comment:
"...its high time the city stop spot rezoning and begin paying attention to long-term community planning, and business should become sensitive to the views of the community if they wish variance form the approved sizes and uses in the zoning bylaws..."
summarizes the value of planning and predictability for both residents AND businesses. The future of our community should not be a "crap shoot" either literally or figuratively.

The Thought of The Evening

"While everyone talks about the addiction of gambling, dirty politics, and green roofs...Japan is hurting."

I feel like an arse to think I posted three comments on green roofs while the situation in Japan following today's earthquake and the accompanying tsunami went from worse to horrendous.

Why am I bringing this up? Because when this kind of tragedy will hit Vancouver's coast, the magnitude of the local damage will make Japan's a kids play.

Instead of throwing money into the BIG Empty (Vancouver Convention Centre West and its 'grand' Green Roof), into a BC Place Roof that's as useful to Vancouverites as two Playboy centrefolds to a 90 years old fart; into a stupid two weeks party, already long forgotten and a T-shirt with 'I went to Vancouver Winter Olympics and all I've got left with is this pair of Red mittens'; instead of selling out BC Rail for scrap, same as we did with the BC Ferries, and also selling our water to foreigners maybe we should have looked at the future of this region and city with professionalism.

Most of the public school buildings in Vancouver are still standing due to... gravity, and paint. Not a chance in Hell.
The West End have become so crowded, the biggest damage will come from falling debris,fire and panic. The west side, parts of downtown and...the Olympic Village will wash their laundry in...public.
Far South, Richmond will become mush and you would wish not to be due for landing at the former YVR during the 'happening'.

People in general, think they can put together the best evacuation plans and first aid schemes and bury the biggest pipes in the ground, earthquake proof, and it will still be good for Zip.

And if it wasn't enough that we are 'blessed' with the most incompetent, pathetic and corrupt Council, Mayor and City Senior Bureaucrats in decades, we just been punk'd courtesy of the BC Liberal lowlifes with Christy 'the Medusa' Clark. Just don't look her in the eyes!

Talking about gambling. Sahara Hotel and Casino is closing in Las Vegas for good, due to bleeding money to death in the past two years. Apparently half of the 'Rat Pack' is moving to Vancouver. That would be the 'Rat' part.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Hi Mike.

This is an interesting debate and you pose many tantalizing questions. I think that's probably the best reason to turn down the proposal and send it back to the drawing board. If there's anything I've learned, it's - if someone is being pushy to get what they want, it's best to back off and let time run its course.

Just to clarify something you say about the Alliance for Arts and Culture -
When questioned, Mr. Alibhai did not say the organization "would not take any grants from the expanded casino even if they were offered."
In reality the Alliance position is - even if the arts funding was reinstated, the opposition to the Edgewater expansion would not change.
Those positions are different and what you've written could be misleading.
See the link - http://www.allianceforarts.com/blog/gambling-are-we-it-or-against-it
Mr. Alibhai also addresses the solidarity of artists with the workers. Many artists are single moms who serve highballs! Why do you think that one looks down on the other? Might you be trying to create unnecessary divisions with your words?
One more thing - I am so glad that someone is finally taking a stand about Mr. Coleman. It is unacceptable for the Solicitor General, the minister in charge of policing gambling, to also be the Minister in charge of BC Lottery Corporation and to promote gambling. It's a clear conflict of interest; Mr. Coleman should be removed from one of the portfolios. Don't you think so?

Thanks for keeping the discussion going!

Thanks for this comment Glissando.
You've put it all in stark and realistic perspective.

Considering that the Alliance has Christy Clark's ex-husband and Liberal strategist Mark Marissen working for them as a lobbyist, it is curious that they have decided to make such a public, personal attack against Rich Coleman - on the last business day before Christy Clark announces her new cabinet (on Monday). Perhaps the Alliance has some inside information about the new cabinet, and is simply staging a "win" for themselves? I wouldn't blame them for doing so, particularly since they have been so ineffective as an advocacy group, having overly-aligned themselves with several anti-government entities over the past couple of years. The VSO's cancellation of their membership in the Alliance in 2010 speaks volumes to the fact that the Alliance has made a lot of tactical blunders of late, and has created fractures amongst the very community it purports to represent.

Well said GR. We must do far more than we have to date to prepare for "The Big One". It could be fifty days or fifty years from now, but that's no reason to act as if it's never going to happen. From unneeded stadium roofs, to overpaying massively for privately-produced power, to a billion dollars for "smart" meters to "save us from grow-op theft" (oh please), the neo-con "Liberals" abuse of the taxpayer is near-feudal. Meanwhile this city council chases it's green tail in circles while accomplishing next to nothing. It's time for a peasant's (electoral) revolt.

Most of your friends and family are ambivalent! I have been taking the same informal poll of friends family and business associates since the fall and have found not one person who thinks this is a good idea. Gambling as a direct government revenue generator is bad public policy. It always generates corruption. Government should not be in businesses that the private sector can better serve and it should not be picking winners. Then there are the planning issues around the use of this site. I find it hard to imagine a poorer use. The site should be divided and multi-use and should be open to competitive bidding and proposals. Then there are the specifics of the deal, which suck. This has been poorly negotiated by the city and the provinve. And then there is Paragon ...

The people of Vancouver are tired of the developer elites and the idiots in Victoria ramming stupid developments down our throats. Anyone who supports this dog should be voted out of office, municipal and provincial. And Minister Coleman should go.

Note that this has nothing to do with being for or against gambling. And your crass attempts to make it a class issue are ridiculous. Gambling is a fact of life. I have no problem with for profit businesses running gambling. I want the government out of gambling, gambling properly taxed and the subsidies to developers to end. Open up the space to allow people to develop all sorts of different uses - local manufacturing, art galleries, more downtown living, parks and salt water marshes ... a large casino and large hotels can go elsewhere if there is any real demand for them. Or make them bid on an open market with an open process.

" I stand by my suggestion that there are questions about the independence of VO when it comes to anything to do with Vision Vancouver." And do you regard this blog as an independent voice?

looks like it is time for a redo of provincial tax policies. One result would be to untie the charities and arts umbrellas from any guaranteed tax sharing. Let them raise their own operating funds with bingo games.
The Province needs more revenues and rifle shooting opportunities such as gambling seems not acceptable to citizens. If that is so, then the personal tax rates must rise, sales taxes must rise and provincial expenditures on items that should be regional district and city responsibilities should be off loaded. That would be transportation, social housing and a long list of others. Cities will have to approve subdivisions only if there are sufficient school rooms available for the new families moving in. I am sure that others can contribute more suggestions.
It is so easy to say NO to revenue generating possibilities, and then bitch about a lack of services.

The VSO pulled its membership from the Alliance because their Board Chair is also on the Board of the BCLC; other members of their Board also stand to benefit from expansion. No other member of the Alliance has removed their support because of this issue. You are right this does speak volumes.

The Alliance works with many different partners in its work, and will continue to do so - none are anti-government - just anti-corrupt government. It is called Democracy.

Mark Marissen, by the way, has not worked for the Alliance as a lobbyist since Christy Clark began her leadership campaign. He has too much integrity for that, recognizing that he must find another line of work at the provincial level.

Rich Coleman's current position puts him in a conflict of interest, and his performance in the position has led to fewer and fewer dollars to the charities and non profits as well as loss of public trust in public gambling.

The Alliance has been quite effective in its work to inform the public of the issues facing the arts and culture and should be partially credited for the restoration of funds to the BC Arts Council and the Premier-Designate's promise to review Gaming.

Part of that review should include removing Rich Coleman from the file. As a new Premier, Clark would do well to distance herself from Coleman as his record comes under scrutiny. I believe that the review will soundly discredit his handling of this portfolio over the last ten years. The NDP, by the way, have called for his ouster. Time for change and now is the time.

Probably not Steven. But then Mike makes no attempt to claim neutrality. He would lose all his readers if that were the case. He would have to join the massive support group headquartered on Cortes Island. I suspect he has a warmer spot in his heart for East Van.

I quote the Alliance's media release:

"Intimidation of individuals and organizations that challenge the granting system"

"In February, 2011, a message was conveyed to individuals close to the BCACG that unnamed persons in the provincial government were unhappy with the challenge by the BCACG and the Alliance to the Paragon Gaming casino application in Vancouver. It was stated that continuing this strategy could result in charities being hurt. On Thursday, March 3, the BC Persons With AIDS Society received an unexpected cut of $50,000 from its gaming grant, which had remained stable for 6 years. BCPWAS has been a supporter of the challenge to Paragon Gaming's application to expand its license. The implication is clear."

These statements are insupportable, are libelous and are intended to do nothing but defame Rich Coleman's character. The inclusion of such malicious innuendo and gossip in their media release was irresponsible, unprofessional and completely inappropriate.

Rich Coleman should sue the Alliance, its staff and board for this, and members of the Alliance should demand the resignation of the Executive Director and others involved in this outrageous behaviour.

So, you would rather see gambling revenue go into the hands of the private sector, letting them reap the profits, and not be used to fund any charities, social programs, etc.

Now, where do you expect that loss of revenue to come from?

When you talk about 'gambling revenue' it is not just casinos. It is lottery tickets, scratch and wins, Keno, everything that falls under that umbrella.

Already we see charities that rely on these subsidies complaining that they are not receiving the monies they used to, which, directly affects their operations.

The outcry would be loud and long if you stripped them from all the revenue they receive through gambling revenue.

You speak of democracy, yet you work to potentially strip 800 persons of their livelihoods as their work does not fit within your moral guidelines.

And for those that keep using the term 'the citizens don't want this' - that is an all inclusive statement and unless there is a democratic vote showing such, is incorrect.

Not all citizens of Vancouver are against this project.

Max, polls show the majority of voters dont want this--that is irrefutable. Perhaps you can suggest some other form of public vote-taking on this situation, since you don't like polls that don't suit your idea of the world.

With regards to jobs, Paragon actually has the opportunity to re-lease the site that Edgewater sits on---according to the peope who own it. Hmm. Maybe Paragon shouldn't be frightening their own employees?

As for the statement above 'This project has been in the works for over two years, and the word "casino" is spelled out several times in the 2008 proposal to council' that is NOT the project that PavCo brought to council in charette in 2008.

The City Charter clearly lays out that the public has the right to express itself over a development, and one involving a casino---one that was not announced until 2010 by the Premier.

First of all, anyone who believes anything coming from Paragon Gaming or BC Lottery is incredibly gullible. They are skewing figures and facts to suit their desire to have this massive casino built because these people will PERSONALLY PROFIT from this development. And they are callously using the workers as pawns to get what they want and making them fearful for their jobs unnecessarily. Guaranteed, if this casino goes ahead, these workers will be disposable just like the yellow t-shirts Paragon bought for them to wear at these hearings.

And why is it that this huge Las Vegas style casino is the only way to create jobs and make revenue for Vancouver? If the government of BC wants to profit from people's vices, what they should do is legalize cannabis and open a huge BC Bud Emporium there instead. That would create even more jobs and probably far more revenue for BC than a stupid casino, whose owners will pocket most of the profits and send them back to the US where they are based. If you're against that, then why the hell is a casino any better?

And Mike, it's a little hypocritical of you to suggest that the VO or Linda Solomon is not "independent" when you run a blog that is biased against Vision. The VO has published articles by Suzanne and others critical of Vision's policies.

Wow!!

Fairchild radio this afternoon---you should hear the call-ins to that show. Their listeners hate the idea of an expanded casino!

Now on with an addictions expert in the Chinese community...

@Amir Ali Alibhai
This one line needs clarification ..sadly this could be a deal breaker for me....

Mark Marissen, by the way, has not worked for the Alliance as a lobbyist since Christy Clark began her leadership campaign. He has too much integrity for that, recognizing that he must find another line of work at the provincial level.

I question it only because of the BC Rail issue, to me the jury is still out on the integrity level..so what you are saying is Mark Marissen was involved until Christy Clark began her campaign...and now he isn't... but is that not what happened in the sale of BC Rail?

An inquiry into the sale of BC Rail would clear up the confusion for me. this piece of information changes how I perceive this entire issue..

Have I misunderstood the statement? What was MM's level of involvement

Thanks
g

My issues with 'polls' is how easily they can be manipulated to suit an outcome. The 'paying' client can word the questions as needed and not all information is necessarily released, again depending on what the client is hoping to achieve at the end result.

A 'poll' is small cross section of people of which the outcome is extrapulated, but does not speak to the entirety of the population affected. Geographical footprints. Different pockets of people will have differing opinions.

Question: How many times have you been 'polled'?

Myself, zero. The only way to get a truly clear picture of how the entire citizenship thinks - on what is turning out to be a very contentious matter, is through a democratic vote.

Next, yes, there is a hint that Paragon may be able to negotiate an extension on its current lease - but for how long. That area is slated for development, condos, and a practice rink for the Canucks, etc. So 'maybe' they buy a year of time. But after that, then what? It still leaves those employees swinging in the wind and they have a right to be worried.

@ George:

That is how I interpreted the line, and now it seems that Amir Ali Alibhai is a bit bitter about his departure and the reasons thereof.

After all, they are calling for Minister Coleman's head on a platter. (who by the way has made great strides with social housing in Vancouver and all of BC)

I spoke with a Chinese Canadian at Tuesday night's hearing. He said Chinese language call-in shows are 9 out of 10 against the casino expansion and they're very angry about it.

So are a lot of people from all parts of Vancouver. So am I.

@Bill:

I was out with a group of 15 people last night and they are all for it.

As am I.

Bill, the only reason I point this out is not to bash you, but, as a future politician you need to be less emotional when it comes to decision making. You and other (future) politicians need to separate church and state. You cannot argue morals because they are subjective.

All politicos need to realize just as there are those against this proposal there are those that are for it.

I understand the importance in taking a stance. But at this point in the game, and with an election looming, not stepping on toes unnecessarily is also important.

(And I am still voting NPA!)

Points taken Max.

All politicos need to realize just as there are those against this proposal there are those that are for it. I understand the importance in taking a stance. But at this point in the game, and with an election looming, not stepping on toes unnecessarily is also important.

Yes, so, Bill, why don't you just do what Michael Geller does and agree with everyone on both sides of the casino issue. He's always for and against anything remotely controversial. I'm sure that's exactly what people who vote are looking for: politicians who can't make up their minds and take a stance one way or the other. This is basically what Max is suggesting you do. I can't think of worse advice for a politician, personally.

Most of the people who are for this casino live nowhere near the Downtown area of Vancouver. This has nothing to do with morals or preventing people from gambling, there are lots of ways to gamble your money away in Vancouver. "Destination" casinos are what cities who have little else to offer settle on, because it's a bottom-of-the-barrel way for a government to make money. It's stupid, ugly and will not improve the Downtown one bit.

So yes Bill, as Max has attested you need to be a good little politician and don't speak to what you feel because our NPA candidates must fit into our nicely fitted and pre-concieved mold.
As a real politician you need to take stances based upon your emotions and for what you believe is correct. I don't want an era were we have politicians that simply abide by the popular sentiment. Politicians need to be attuned to that great majority that does not have a voice in their respective communities, because the reality is that the only voices that get heard are those that have the money to have the ear of media or government.
Think of through the ages of the great politicians that took stances against the perceived popular sentiment.

Your list of those that have money to 'bend the ear of the media and governemnt' does that incude those who are speaking out against the casino or only those for the casino??

Right now, it seems the casino workers are getting left in the dust.

I beg to differ.

Reading through the comments on Bula's blog as well as CBC and other sites, the 'morality' card is being played repeatedly, as well as gambling addiction. (Again, seems no one wants to take personal responsibility for anything they do these days)

And the 'we' don't want 'those type' of people coming to our city.... etc.

To suggest that people who vote for the casino or attend casinos are 'immoral' is laughable.

And my advise to Bill was just a suggestion. Take a look at what is being openly stated by other politicians on this matter. Not much. They are playing it close to their chest(s)and there is a reason for that.

I am reposting this comment made on Bula's site: posted by mezzanine

*******

FYI vancouver is fourth among metro vancouver WRT casino revenue for municipalities.

“The City of Richmond earned $11.7 million in 2009 from its share of casino revenue at River Rock – more than any other local city got from gambling.

Grand Villa host city Burnaby was close behind at $10.3 million, followed by Coquitlam (Boulevard Casino) at $8.8 million, Vancouver (Edgewater and Hastings Park) at $7.6 million, Langley (Cascades) at $6.7 million, New Westminster (Starlight) at $6.1 million and Surrey (Fraser Downs) at $2.9 million.”

Max, Toowoozy, ITK, I believe I've made my position clear with respect to this casino proposal. I do not think my attitude is "emotional". It is based on my reasoned understanding of the facts of this issue and on my own sense of what is right. Politics is not exclusively either entirely rational nor moral. IMO it is a combination of both. If it was simply rational, would we need a political decision-making process at all?

Having said that, I'm well aware of the importance of having to work with other's at the civic level, as well as provincially and federally. I look forward to it. There is much to be accomplished with such cooperation. It is my preference, however, to do so from a clearly articulated position. At the end of the day, there are times when compromise is both necessary and possible in such a context, and there are times when it is not.

Max, I suggest you take note that the sands may be shifting. We have a new 'families 1st' Premier designate, Coleman has said in the last few days that the proposal was not intended to be forced on Vancouver. Vision Councillors are suddenly born again converts to wondering of the wisdom of this adventure.

IMO this casino has parallels to the freeway debate of the 70's. I and my fellow TEAM-mates believed freeways were not right for Vancouver. The prevailing wisdom of the day was the opposite, and it was also considered a done deal. But, we changed peoples minds then (I was standing next to Trudeau in a lineup at Whistler and couldn't resist the opportunity to tell him that "Vancouver didn't need freeways"; and of course to this day I'm sure my unsolicited advice was the turning point in Federal support), and I sense a similar change is occurring again. In the 70's we were fortunate to have some enlightened Federal and Provincial ministers who came on-side just as Coleman and, hopefully, Christy are doing now.

My problem with all of this NONSENSE is that once again, we have politicians running around seeing what the opinion polls say.
Why do citizens (average people) have to have massive fights,protests, etc to get politicians to look at long range planning.
Does anybody think the western govt's haven't had an idea that our population is growing older and that they might have to figure out a way to bring more money in (and spend less - horrors!)

When governments and hospitals rely on gambling (lotteries) it indicates a lack of planning.

Would we be in this money-mad position if we had had proper planning ---including making a decent portion of the downtown less of a retirement/fun zone and more of a business zone?

We have failed miserably at ALL levels of government to attract and build a diversified business base in this city, that would create more jobs--and not just in the tourism and "entertainment" fields.

We have failed to communicate to British Columbians that our natural resources are still a viable, and essential sector of our economy--and that they can be maintained properly for our own envioronmental health as well as for our province's economic wealth. That innovation in that field should have started decades ago, just shows the lack of sense of any future that successive governments have shown.
We are the province that only looks for the next "raw logs" (easy, quick money) instead of developing industries that add value right from the start--and that includes more good jobs.

We have failed because the civil service continues to outpace all sectors of the economy in growth, tangling up the rest of us in red tape, endless reports and changing rules and regulations, to keep the politicians out of the soup.

On the other side, we have the arrogance of politicians, who would rather bore the hell out of us with their endless, costly, fruitcake talk about banning plastic bags and building chicken coops when they should be doing their duty by buckling down and figuring out how to improve, unify and streamline services such as health care and transportaion that cost us so much of our taxes.

And with their lack of long-term planning, when they try to spot develop and keep it from the public, then they are surprised when the proles rise up and say "Hello? What's this??!!"

We have failed because our politicians at the provincial and civic levels have been short-sightedly focused on doing deals with political backers (and hey, it doesn't matter which political stripe our pols sport---that money is as good as gold with all parties) by Ok'ing the development of condos (and casinos) in this city, to the exclusion of just about ANYTHING else, when we should have been focused on creating, retaining, innovating and providing an environment for the best and brightest in other areas of the economy, such as in the tech and health care sectors.

We have failed because we want to make Vancouver over into a cheaper version of Disneyland, where the boys and girls never have to grow up, and where "play" is all we can offer the citizens.

Gordon Gekko should be our Mayor. And Mr. Potter, our Premier.

Two new pieces of info on my Twitter feed:

1) Gary Mason hears that Ida Chong will be new minister in charge of gambling, muni auditor and the arts.

2) Ian Bailey at the Globe says that Clark says she will be focusing on jobs, in new ministry that combimes, tourism, innovation, etc.

http://tinyurl.com/45vhxns

I'm just hurt that I wasn't asked to join cabinet! LOL!

curious what an innovation ministry is...any ideas

Well, it's a nice word.

Doesn't mean much till put into practice and produces some sort of positive result.

"If it (politics) was simply rational, would we need a political decision-making process at all?".

care, I say, careful there, Bill. Slippery slope and all that. It's already hard enough to get 1 in 3 out to the polls.

The fact that a referendum is required tells you everything you need to know about this Council: out of touch and in bed with special interests. Not to mention crazy: poker, slots and roulette must be banned, but don't touch the meth and crack industries. Only in Snafuver.

According to my bookie, your best odds in November are to keep the focus on the Olympic Village fiasco and the failed promises of Vision (i.e. never mind the bike lanes). He says you have to hurry before Adrian Dix gets into a blue-sky bidding war against Premier Clark over who will spend more on social housing.

The existing Edgewater Casino has operated with little concern by the public for almost seven years. If it can't cross the street inside our entertainment district, then where else should this go?

I thought the main opposition was to the casino expansion, not the relocation?

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