The View Royal Casino will remain the primary casino in the region with Victoria identified over Saanich as a potential host for a second facility by the B.C. Lottery Corporation.

Saanich councillor breathes sigh of relief as BCLC aims for Victoria casino

Coun. Leif Wergeland was the only member of Saanich council to vote against potentially hosting a new casino

A major barrier to the planned $20-million expansion of the View Royal Casino has been lifted.

The B.C. Lottery Corporation announced Friday that the City of Victoria was selected over Saanich as the preferred local government to host a new gaming facility for the region. The corporation also clarified the View Royal Casino will remain the primary gaming operation in Greater Victoria.

The size and scope of the new facility, for which business proposals have yet to be tendered, will depend on the existing casino’s redevelopment plans, BCLC stated.

“That’s the type of certainty we hadn’t heard up until last week … That’s why we were waiting for this to play out,” said Jim Keeling, vice-president of stakeholder relations and responsible gaming for Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which operates the casino.

Plans to redevelop and expand the View Royal Casino have been in the works since 2008, he said, but were shelved after the recession hit. In the past 18 to 24 months an improved market has seen those plans rekindled, but Great Canadian wanted more certainty about what BCLC envisioned for Greater Victoria before it would move forward with a proposal, Keeling said. “We just needed more definition about what’s going on in the marketplace.”

Last month Coun. Leif Wergeland was the only Saanich councillor to vote against forwarding Saanich’s submission to host a potential gambling site. He was happy to hear the news this week that Victoria will instead be the focus of a gaming facility.

“We have a great council, but the only thing that we were looking at was location, and we hear about the $1.5 to $2 million we might make, yet, if even two to three families are impacted negatively by [gambling addiction], is it worth it,” said Wergeland. “And I say no.”

Before the View Royal Casino was approved, Saanich turned away the idea of hosting the casino.

Saanich’s Red Lion Inn was once in the running, before Saanich then amended its bylaws.

While the Great Canadian Gaming Casino’s plans for the site have not been publicly revealed, Keeling said the company’s proposal to BCLC “will be much more for the entertainment seeker than the gambler” and will “emphasize non-gaming amenities” to appeal to gamblers and non-gamblers alike.

View Royal Mayor David Screech, whose municipality enjoys the largest share of casino revenue – about $1.84 million last year alone – among five West Shore jurisdictions, plus Esquimalt, Sooke and the Ktunaxa First Nations, has been one of the most vocal opponents of any plan to build a second casino in the region. He was pleased with the decision that emerged from meetings last week.

“I think it’s a win-win for everybody,” he said of an expanded casino and the possibility of a showroom-style theatre, which Great Canadian has successfully developed in some of its facilities on the mainland.

As long as BCLC maintains its commitment to keep View Royal the primary facility for the region, Screech said, the situation looks very positive all round. He and Langford Mayor Stew Young attended meetings on Friday with BCLC and representatives of Great Canadian. The mayors have been actively lobbying BCLC to look at helping the View Royal Casino expand rather than watering down the regional gambling market – and its community benefits.

“There seems to be an understanding that they will build the (Victoria) facility in such a way that will protect both markets,” Screech said.

There is currently no land zoned to allow a casino in the City of Victoria. City policy also prohibits a standalone casino operation, stipulating that such a facility must be an extension of an existing business, such as a hotel. Unless council changes that policy, a downtown site would almost certainly be smaller than an expanded View Royal Casino.

Asked whether he sensed this whole scenario was a way for BCLC to force Great Canadian to move on its expansion plans, Screech acknowledged there had been some frustration on BCLC’s part that the gaming company had not yet announced its plans.

BCLC president and CEO Jim Lightbody indicated it has been the lottery corporation’s plan all along to help promote an expansion of offerings in View Royal.

– With files from Travis Paterson

 

Just Posted

Penelakut filmmaker Steve Sxwithul’txw finds success in film and TV

Cop-turned-storyteller reaches back to his past for Tribal Police Files

Choir offers a capella take on Beatles hits

Soundings will perform concerts in Oak Bay and Sidney May 24 and 25

VIDEO: Scorpion found in B.C. woman’s kitchen finds new home in Victoria

The Victoria Bug Zoo welcomed the scorpion on Saturday

B.C. getting less bang for its buck

B.C.’s CPI topped 2.7 per cent in April 2019, compared to two per cent for all of Canada

VIDEO: Horseshoe pitching association appeals to Greater Victora youngsters

Youth horseshoe pitching club offers fun for all ages, says GVHPA

Update: Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Vancouver Island MusicFest: ‘House bands’ from the golden age of rock and R&B

Some of America’s greatest session musicians are coming to the Comox Valley this summer

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

Bucks hammer Raptors 125-103 to take 2-0 playoff series lead

Toronto heads home in a hole after second loss to Milwaukee

Most Read