With few exceptions, the comments were mostly positive about the design and additional services planned for the View Royal Casino expansion.
On Tuesday night View Royal council unanimously approved the development permit application for the estimated $20-million project, in which a 600-seat entertainment venue forms the most significant architectural aspect.
The expansion will add 42,000 square feet to the facility, with plans for 350 new slot machines and electronic table games, 12 new live action table games, an off-track betting area, a new buffet restaurant area, a quick service restaurant/lounge on the main floor. The existing restaurant, bar and slots room to the right of the main entrance will be demolished to make way for the new addition.
The entertainment venue, with a stark white, curved roof exterior that will rise above the casino roofline, is planned for a second level and will extend out from the rest of the addition toward Wilfert Road near the edge of the existing property line. The theatre features a striking green glass end piece opposite the stage.
Architect Mike Alivojvodic said they wanted to “make a statement” with the new wing of the facility, but also looked at recent architecture locally to get a sense of context.
“We see this building as a landmark,” he said. “We see it fitting in, using brick and stone and West Coast elements.”
One resident from the Coho condominium complex high up Wilfert Road across Island Highway asked whether the signage would conflict with the Town’s dark sky policy. She was told by Mayor David Screech that signage would be dealt with at a later date, but a member of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation delegation hurriedly assured her that the facility would respect the policy.
Screech called the unveiling of the plans “a monumental announcement for our town and the future of our town.” He told Great Canadian representatives and their project architects, “I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the confidence in our town. This is an exceptional building, people are going to know about it all over the region.”
Coun. John Rogers, on council when the original development permit for a casino expansion was approved in 2007, pointed out that the Town and Great Canadian have been “waiting many long years for this to happen.” He also voiced appreciation for the confidence the company and the B.C. Lottery Corporation were displaying in View Royal by moving ahead with the project.
Coun. Ron Mattson wasn’t completely sold on the contemporary design of the theatre section, joking just before the vote, “What would really go nicely with this is a six- or seven-storey hotel.”
A handful of variance requests to the existing zoning on the site were approved, relating to setbacks, building height and the placement and number of free standing signs.
Interviewed later, Screech said the casino addition will make the facility “a wonderful looking building.”
“I think it’s going to be a landmark building. I agree it’s different, but I think a casino should be a different looking structure than the rest of the town,” he said. While any modern architecture will appeal to some people and not others, he admitted, “from drawings to completion, it’s very hard to envision the completed look.”
Earlier this week, Chuck Keeling, vice-president of stakeholder relations and responsible gaming for Great Canadian, said the company hopes to get started on the project in early 2017, with an estimated completion sometime in mid-2018.