(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich won’t roll the dice on gaming, entertainment facility

Council unanimous on ending discussions on potential casino after many concerns raised

Saanich folded its hand and left the table as council unanimously agreed to end discussions with the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) about bringing a casino to the municipality.

In mid-March, Mayor Fred Haynes and Coun. Susan Brice decided to resume efforts to bring the region’s second gaming and entertainment facility to Saanich as the district began eyeing post-pandemic economic recovery.

READ ALSO: Mayor, councillor seek to reignite efforts to bring casino to Saanich

Noting a lack of correspondence from the public on the matter since the former council expressed interest in 2015, and the current council’s reiterated interest in 2019, the pair felt it best to reignite the conversation with the community.

In March 2020 the BCLC offered to attend a council meeting to discuss the proposed casino and answer councillors’ questions. The meeting was postponed amid the pandemic.

Earlier this month, Saanich staff sought direction from council regarding the next steps.

READ ALSO: New south Island casino could be in the cards for Saanich

Council received an influx of letters from residents both for and against the idea. Some pointed out a gaming and entertainment facility would bring new economic opportunities and that the municipality would receive 10 per cent of the annual profit. Others expressed concerns about the effects such a facility would have on gambling addicts and the potential for money laundering.

After hearing from the community, doing their own research and considering a staff report on the matter, council agreed the economic benefits of a casino did not outweigh the potential harms, Haynes said.

READ ALSO: Victoria no longer interested in hosting a downtown casino

A representative from the BCLC attended the May 3 council meeting, but Haynes said council will send a formal letter.

He remains interested in bringing a hotel and entertainment facility to eastern Saanich without a casino.


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