Letters to the Editor

First Nation talks casino


Re: Semiahmoo ‘prime location’ for casino, Nov. 20.

For those of you who attended the Nov. 14 information meeting at the Pink Palace and listened to what the guest First Nations speaker was saying – but didn’t hear the message – please read the referenced article.

Only one speaker addressed this issue during the question and answer session, and was either not heard or people did not realize the implication of what she was saying.

The implications are immense. The unavoidable truth is that casinos and gambling are just too attractive a revenue stream for people to ignore. The numbers don’t lie, and a casino/resort complex is going to be built in South Surrey at some point, come hell or high water, by someone.

If this particular proposal for the Gateway casino is defeated, it will not mean that the issue is dead.

A proposal will move to a new location, possibly one where there is less or no public input and revenues are not shared with the City of Surrey, the revenues are not subjected to the same taxation as it would be on public land and the city and people of B.C. would be paying for the improvements to infrastructures surrounding the development instead of the developer.

What do you think a casino south of 8 Avenue at 160 Street would do to the waterfront, property values, traffic, etc.? It is even closer to homes, schools, beaches, recreation, etc.

How much dialogue happened between the First Nation there and the community before the six-foot chain-link fence went up along Marine Drive barring the community from access to the park there? How much voice do you think you would have in a development there?

It may be time to think about choosing between the lesser of evils and considering the options.

It may be time to ask for changes and concessions for the Gateway proposals that will benefit the community at large, instead of killing it only to face a new development where there is no chance for dialogue with the developers.

If Gateway is in possession of 25 acres and is developing only 18, that means seven acres for parks, small shops, play field, small outdoor amphitheatre or something else.

If the six-storey car park is too obtrusive, there are other alternatives to building upwards. If the car park is built outwards or partially in ground, and the roof of the structure is left available, many things can be done on the top of structures, such as including shops, green spaces and public areas.

Arguments against the social evils of gambling are pointless. It is a legal business, just as tobacco and alcohol are.

Access to gambling is as easy as going to a corner store or firing up your computer, so don’t kid yourself that by stopping this casino development you are helping to solve a social problem.

Instead, you are better to ask for more help for those affected by gambling, ask for increased awareness programs, demand more of the profits be used for these kinds of initiatives.

Asking for gambling to go away is just not realistic. You may as well ask at the same time for the liquor stores and pubs to be shut down and the government to ban smoking altogether and stop taking tax revenues from these products and activities.

The article cited is a wake-up call. Let’s be careful not to cut our noses off to spite our faces.

It may be worth exploring and discussing and demanding changes to the Gateway development to benefit the people of South Surrey/White Rock while we have an opportunity to do so.

If this proposal is defeated now, we may win this battle only to ultimately lose the war with far greater damaging and debilitating consequences.

So think about instead of saying ‘no,’ think about saying ‘OK, but we want…’ and what those wants might be.

Scott Keddy, White Rock

• • •

The Nov. 20 edition of the Peace Arch News has considerable data regarding the proposed casino to be built at 10 Avenue and 168 Street.

You seem to give a great deal of attention to the Semiahmoo Indian Band (Band ‘always open to casino), or as they like to be called, First Nation.

I believe that despite their frequent quotations about their Aboriginal rights, this band is actually an immigrant band being split off the Lummi Indian Tribe of Washington State. To have Aboriginal “rights,” a group of Indians has to have occupied their claimed territory from “time immemorial,” whatever that happens to be.

This is not really a unique situation, as there are several Indian bands or First Nations in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Saskatchewan bands were Sioux who were being chased by the U.S. Army after Sitting Bull cleaned up on Gen. Custer.

David G. Sparks, Surrey





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