Councillor Woodsworth’s motion passed! Thanks to Councillor Woodsworth for supporting charities and for calling for a delay in any further gaming expansion until gaming cuts and gambling irregularities and regulation are addressed!
This is good news, but the fight is not over. The City does not necessarily have influence over provincial government policy, but this motion will send a message.
The following is the BCACG’s letter to Vancouver City Council, supporting Councillor Ellen Woodsworth’s motion (seconded by Counc. David Cadman) to support the rights of charities to gaming proceeds.
The BCACG is in full support of this motion. For history on the Vancouver casino issue, please see our post here.
Our letter to Vancouver City Council in support of the motion is below.
Mayor and Council
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
January 17, 2011
Dear Mayor and Council:
Re: CD-1 Rezoning – 777 Pacific Boulevard (Hotel/Entertainment/Casino
I write on behalf of the BC Association for Charitable Gaming to support Councillor Ellen Woodsworth’s motion respecting the Edgewater Casino gambling expansion application.
The following are comments taken from our online petition to the BC provincial government, seeking reinstatement of gaming funding:
We are a drop-in Seniors center. Our members need a place to go that gets them away from the lonely existence. Our Paradise center is a DESTINATION, that doesn’t cost very much to join, has lots of free activities, and lets them enjoy themselves. It is not right that our Grants are taken away, leaving closed centers and lonely, vulnerable Seniors with nothing to do.
My nephew, who has… a fatal neuro-muscular disease, participates in the riding programs offered by the North Fraser Therapeutic Riding Association (NFRTA). His participation adds to the quality of his life. In the absence of (the Bingo) grant the NFTRA’s programs and even its very existence is in jeopardy.
I am a brain injury survivor and I need the support from the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society to have a better quality of life. The Society has kept me alive.
The organizations described here are typical of the many hundreds, if not thousands, of charities that wrote letters or appeared at municipal gaming license hearings across the province, in support of the expansion of gambling. Their letters and appearances were based on the express representation by the province and private developers that increased gaming revenue would secure funding to charities. Similar representations were made to the City of Vancouver by the original Edgewater Casino applicants.
Vancouver and BC charities and non-profits are devastated. Gaming grants, a vital source of revenue for so many organizations, are now far below the levels of 1997, the year the first slot machines were approved in BC. These cuts affect transportation of sick children to hospitals across the province (Shriners), support services for families of soldiers serving in Afghanistan (the Legion), seniors, the arts, sports, the disabled, crisis centres, and myriad other interests.
In Vancouver alone, the loss of gaming grants is difficult to assess, but appears to be well in excess of $4 million annually. Our weakest and most vulnerable are stripped of services, while (as Pete McMartin has documented in the Vancouver Sun) hundreds of millions of dollars of public money flows to powerful private interests.
This is in violation of our Memorandum of Agreement with the province of British Columbia, of which Council has been apprised. Details may be easily accessed at our website–BCACG.com.
On behalf of many hundreds of Vancouver charities and non-profits, and almost 6,800 province-wide, we ask this Council to defer expansion of Edgewater Casino’s gaming capacity pending: the reinstatement to these organizations of the gaming funds cut by government in 2009; and the satisfactory commitment on the part of government to include these organizations in the allocation of gaming proceeds in the long-term.