Saanich council is likely to forward a staff-prepared report on possible casino or gaming facility sites to the B.C. Lottery Corporation.
The “major centres” of Uptown and Tillicum are among those identified in the staff report that council received on Monday. It was the first regular Saanich council session since May 16.
“It’s important that people realize Saanich has not selected a site yet, and we don’t even know if we’re going to get one,” said Coun. Fred Haynes. “There seems to be confusion that Uptown mall and the Tillicum mall have already been selected, and that is not the case.”
Saanich is in a state of flux over where a casino could go and there are other locations that could equally be considered, Haynes added.
“It’s the northern edge of the Tillicum centre that is suggested, and somewhere in the surrounding Uptown neighbourhood,” he said. “And if you look at Royal Oak, it’s becoming more of a corridor than a centre, with the success of the Red Barn [on Vanalman Avenue] and new [Victoria Caledonian Brewery and Distillery] along Glanford Avenue coming in.”
On April 14, the BCLC narrowed its search to Saanich and Victoria as viable locations for a new gaming facility on the South Island, which dates back to its October 2015 request for expressions of interest.
Potential Saanich sites suggested by staff are all based on the official community plan’s major centres, focusing on the centres of Royal Oak, Uptown and Tillicum.
Only the latter has a particular building mentioned, the redevelopment of the Playtime Bingo hall at 3400 Tillicum Ave.
BCLC has particular requirements, and seeks a gaming floor in the range of 15,000 to 30,000 square feet and a minimum of 400 parking stalls. The lottery and gambling oversight organization has set a deadline of June 23 for Saanich’s and Victoria’s response.
BCLC’s April letter said the current casino in View Royal is capturing only $45 million of an estimated annual revenue of $112 million for the South Island.
The new casino or gaming facility will start with between 300 to 400 slot machines, with the ability to add more, and only about eight to 10 table games. The annual revenue potential for a new facility is targeted at $30 to $45 million, with an approximate $1.8 to $2.5 million yield for the municipality.
“There will be much debate and community engagement before we do anything,” Haynes said. “Yes, there are economic pros, but what are the negative impacts of gambling for each area.”