Don’t bet on a new casino popping up in the District of Saanich anytime soon.
District councillors unanimously decided not to support the BC Lottery Corporation’s (BCLC) plan for a hotel, entertainment, and casino complex in the southern Vancouver Island community on Monday evening.
The corporation would have started doing more research and public participation if the idea had been approved.
BCLC has been seeking to develop a casino in the Capital Regional District for years, and in 2015 it shortlisted Victoria and Saanich as potential municipalities.
The city council in Victoria voted against allowing a casino to open, citing concerns about money laundering.
Saanich has risen to the top of BCLC’s priority list for 2019. The idea was presented to Saanich councillors, who voted yes to considering it.
A report was prepared and submitted to council on Monday, with the request that they vote on whether or not it supported the idea “in principal.”
It did not.
Coun. Zac De Vries, speaking Tuesday on All Points West said that “My problem was the type of casino that was being proposed.”
According to De Vries, BCLC was pitching the casino as a local market opportunity that would bring in local dollars, but that was insufficient to win his vote.
He stated that a venue designed to attract visitors and new dollars into the district would be preferable.
De Vries also expressed concern about the “substitution effect,” which he described as residents spending their disposable income on the slots rather than local shops, though he noted that residents’ feedback indicated they would not rush to try their luck.
He also added that “Residents said ‘I would like to pay more taxes rather than host a casino in the district’… that’s a phrase you never here in local government.”