Re: ‘Rhetoric and misinformation’ mar debate, Nov. 20 letters.
Here are more facts from the socioeconomic impact research study commissioned by the B.C. government to assess the impacts of gambling between 2004 and 2006 in Surrey and three other Lower Mainland communities.
Blue Thorn Research and Analysis Group found almost 60 per cent of Surrey residents believed the harms of gambling outweighed the benefit; these negative attitudes increased significantly over the three-year period.
The research showed that a substantial portion of regular gamblers – 24 out of 96 surveyed – were problem gamblers. It also found that there was no statistically identifiable increase in overall community employment.
City planners interviewed at that time expressed some concern about an “over-saturation of the market.”
In concluding comments, the report emphasized that “while gambling almost always constitutes a transfer rather than a creation of wealth, it is a transfer that has the potential to create social problems.”
Hugh Rothe, Surrey
• • •
Clearly our politicians and planners have made a choice: gamblers are more important than neighbourhoods.
They’ve chosen cars, congestion and density, ignoring all transit policies in an area destitute of any public transit. Isn’t transit supposed to go lockstep with any development plans in Surrey and the region?
Note that comparable facilities to the proposed South Surrey casino are adjacent to transit – River Rock comes to mind. Why are planners hell-bent on covering this part of South Surrey in parking lots? Even Las Vegas is set in the middle of the desert.
Shame on anyone for endorsing this location. Surely there are more sensible places to build this kind of edifice.
Brad Smith, Surrey
• • •
I live off of 168 Street in South Surrey, about one block from the proposed casino/hotel site.
I am against this development. This project will impact the wildlife in the area. I sent you a photograph (above) of deer in my front yard and across the street.
I walk through here every day and see the salmon are spawning in the creek along 168 Street. Not only do the deer come through my yard and the area, but I also see raccoons, rabbits, coyotes, herons and birds of prey.
Laurie Hepworth, Surrey
• • •
BCLC executive Jim Lightbody and Gateway Casino lawyer James Chen assured us Nov. 14 at the Pacific Inn that crime is not a problem at casinos, and they tell us neighbourhoods near their casinos have low crime rates.
Just for fun, we checked the facts. Here’s what we found:
Casinos are a crime magnet, according to the RCMP and Vancouver Police Department. Crime reports increased by four times in the neighbourhood, once the River Rock Casino was built in Richmond. In the first six months of 2003, RCMP received 32 calls from the small Bridgeport casino. In comparison, once the larger River Rock Casino was built, during the first six months of 2006 the Mounties received 137 calls from River Rock. Calls included: impaired driving; disturbing the peace; uttering threats; fraud; assault and cocaine possession.
Google news articles documenting crime that occurs around casinos in places like Richmond and Vancouver.
I do not know where the people from BCLC and Gateway do their research, but perhaps they need to do a little bit more. And if their research in this area is incomplete, how accurate can the rest of their claims be?
Scott Kristjanson, White Rock
• • •
The fact is, casinos are exploiting the often-debilitating weaknesses of many of its consumers – especially those suffering with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) – almost to the point of appalling callousness.
There is post-secondary psychology literature that states gamblers purposely, though unconsciously, play and lose money on games of chance and then kick themselves around the proverbial block afterwards just to mentally punish themselves.
Sadly, it’s a form of psychological masochism.
Frank G. Sterle, Jr., White Rock
• • •
I am not excited by the prospect of having gamblers as future neighbours in South Surrey. This is certainly not the right place for a monstrous entertainment centre.
It seems many people do not particularly appreciate the green and quiet environment of South Surrey. They are looking for more excitement perhaps, because golf courses, parks and the beach are clearly not enough.
I’ll admit South Surrey is not the best place for entertainment if you are looking for amusements parks and huge shopping malls, but I certainly do enjoy living here. It is a residential area after all.
A fancy casino is only going to disturb our peaceful lives with the inflow of gamblers.
Why don’t we have a say in this?
The proponents of the casino project have been too busy promoting the facility’s potential to generate an annual revenue of $6 million that could be invested in the city’s infrastructure construction. They talk about the possible jobs that this business would create. This sure sounds like lucrative business.
The promise of economic benefits is the attractive bait that Gateway and BCLC are casting. I am sure there are better and less controversial ways to raise some funds for the city’s road-improvement plans.
I hope this proposal gets permanently shelved.
Susie Zhang, Surrey