Public hearings get mixed results for Delta’s newest casino proposal.
Efforts to build a new casino in Delta, British Columbia, continue to draw mixed emotions from residents. Gateway Casinos & Entertainment has laid out a comprehensive proposal that would see the Delta Town and Country Inn converted to a full-scale integrated resort.
The current plan is to build a 100+ room hotel, a casino gaming floor with around 600 slot machines and 24 table games, meeting facilities and multiple restaurants.
As always, building a new casino has its positive and negative effects. The community is coming together now to express their opinions, helping city council to make its final decision.
Discussion on Delta’s Newest Casino Proposal
Last month, Delta City Council deferred discussions on the matter to the local community. A series of public meetings were scheduled to take place over three consecutive days, February 6-8. The first and final meetings were held at the Harris Barn on Arthur Drive, with the second held at the Sungod Recreation Center on 112 Street.
Each meeting drew a comparable crowd – different people with similar interests, questions, comments, and opinions on the matter. Along with the City Council, each meeting was also attended by representatives of Gateway Casinos & Entertainment. The meeting halls were decorated with charts and banners, depicting statistics and artistic renderings of the potential casino to come.
Public Opinion Balanced on New Casino in Delta
The one thing everyone seemed to take away from the hearings was that the community seems balanced on the issue.
Several residents showed up with long, pre-written commentary opposing the plan. Just as many took time to support the project. And another sizable group of attendees were simply there to learn more, hoping to gather enough information to form an opinion, or at least get a better idea of what’s happening in their community.
What stands out to me the most isn’t just the balanced reaction from the public. It’s that the majority of opponents aren’t totally against a casino. They just want a few stipulations met before they get on board.
New Tennis Court, Please!
At Wednesday’s consultation, one of the most prevailing arguments (previously heard in January) revolved around the club’s tennis court. Gateway’s plan calls for demolishing the court, but numerous residents would much rather see it replaced with a new one.
Resident Warren Stinger is not against the casino, but believes the sports facility deserves further negotiation. “I don’t think anybody should be out there picketing to say this thing shouldn’t go ahead, but I think if you’re tearing down something that’s been there for 40, 50 years, there should be some consideration for putting something new,” he says.
New Casino in Delta Okay, but “Not That Close”
On the oppositional side of the debate sits Clara Chan and several others who staunchly oppose Gateway’s proposal, as it stands. Traffic, crime, problem gambling, money laundering – they fear that each of these could become serious issues in their community. “Delta is a mainly residential area, that’s why we moved here,” says Chan.
In her case, it’s not a matter of opposing the casino, but rather its pending location. “I don’t mind to have [the casino],” she continues, “but not that close to the residential area.”
If Done Right, “It can Only be a Good Thing”
Supporting Delta’s newest casino proposal are residents like Jim Sunder, Terry Guest and Heather Guest. They’re looking at things like additional entertainment, business opportunities, job openings, millions of extra dollars for the local government. They support an overall economic benefit to the community. But only if Gateway and BCLC manage the job right.
“I think it’s a good thing for Delta,” ssays Heather Guest. “If it’s run properly, and hopefully it is — we need a hotel. A really nice hotel. It can only be a good thing.”
Next up, a multi-committee meeting will take place next week on February 15, 2018 at the Harris Barn. The public is welcome to attend, but no further commentary will take place.