Last night, February 1, Councillor Woodsworth’s motion passed with overwhelming support. There were a number of amendments and revisions and I’ll publish the final result as soon as it’s available.
But the result is unmistakable – a call for a review of gambling in the province and a refusal to rubber-stamp casino expansion until the contractual rights and interests of charities and non-profits to a share of gaming funds are protected.
When three of us first met last November to begin building opposition to this casino, we were told there was no point because the casino was a done deal, that whatever the Premier wanted, he got.
Last night, thanks to Councillor Woodsworth’s initiative, we played a small part in helping demonstrate Margaret Meade’s dictum in its purest form: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Mr. Mayor, Councillors and Dr. Ballem:
My name is Sean Bickerton. I am chair of my strata at Paris Place, co-chair of the Keefer Community Group, a member of the steering committee of the False Creek Residents Association and a member of the Vancouver Not Vegas coalition.
It is in this capacity and on my own behalf that I am supporting Ellen Woodsworth’s motion. Because i remember when the gambling it addresses was first legalized in this province, and it was based on the solemn promise that 1/3 of the revenue would go back to local community charities, sports, arts and education.
Instead they cut the charities off completely while handing out more than four hundred million dollars to private casino owners over the past ten years.
How can we then consider such a massive expansion of gambling in our city after the compact that made legalized gambling possible in the first place has been completely abrogated?
The broader community I represent fully supports honoring the original arrangement wherein 1/3 of lottery funds supported needed charities helping local communities.
While we realize that issue itself may fall outside of the normal purview of this government, you are more than entitled to ask questions of the senior level of government that is asking you to endorse placing the largest casino in Western Canada right in the heart of our stunningly beautiful, richly cultured city.
I feel Councillor Woodsworth’s motion is on particularly strong ground especially when you are being asked to approve a rezoning, development application, gambling license expansion and gambling license move all in one vote.
For all of these reasons, expansion should be put on hold until Councillor Woodsworth’s questions are answered.