Casino supporters – evidenced by T-shirts emblazoned with the Gateway logo – outnumbered opponents Dec. 10.

Casino supporters – evidenced by T-shirts emblazoned with the Gateway logo – outnumbered opponents Dec. 10.

Not swayed by bused-in support

Editor:

Re: Gateway brings in casino support by the busload, Dec. 13.

Editor:

Re: Gateway brings in casino support by the busload, Dec. 13.

The Dec. 10 casino land-use meeting at Surrey City Hall was a perfect study in contrasts.

There was a presentation for sustainable growth and an increase in Surrey’s green space over the next decades. Two people spoke for the YMCA, notably a young man who emphasized the ‘safe’ environment to be found there and how that environment enabled a friend of his to dramatically change his life for the good.

Then, there was the show by the Gateway Casinos proponent, who, being concerned about standing on a level playing field where thousands of affected Surrey residents have already expressed opposition to the proposed casino, bused in workers from other areas to dazzle council with their numbers.

Contrary to comments by some councillors, this is not “healthy dialogue” from within the community. This is an example of what casino enterprises like to do – fix numbers to profit themselves!

Based on 2011 population estimates, the expected $3 million in casino revenue for the city amounts to $6.20 per person – an unacceptable exchange for the degradation of a community and destruction of eco-systems by an enterprise that targets the vulnerable, and sends the majority of dollars outside of Surrey.

I look to council to demonstrate more creative and wise ways of raising revenue than slot machines and gambling.

Carol Chase, Surrey

• • •

I was surprised, when I arrived at Surrey’s council meeting Dec. 10, to see four large buses parked nearby.

Two of the buses were identified as Grand Villa Casino from Burnaby. As confirmed when they left, all were from Gateway Casinos and Entertainment.

When I entered city hall, I was surprised to see hundreds of people sporting identical blue T-shirts with “Strong Surrey” on the front and “YES” on the back. I was told most of these people were employees of Gateway Casinos bused in for the meeting. What a cynical way to try to deceive council into believing there is more support for the casino than there really is.

Peter Battistoni, Surrey

• • •

So now Gateway Casinos and Entertainment is busing in paid supporters to shout down the objections of the local residents to the proposed South Surrey casino.

These bully tactics did not work on Vancouver city council; hopefully they will not influence Surrey council. What right do people who do not live in the area have to push their agenda on the local population?

While a large convention and theatre centre may be in Surrey’s interest as a growing city, it’s doubtful the world needs yet another casino, and this site is not appropriate. Just because the developer was able to pick up a parcel of land cheap a few years ago doesn’t make this site suitable.

This site sits just east of Fergus Creek and ALR lands. It is not surrounded by a sea of suburbia, as pictured in the cartoon illustrations of how the casino might look.

Surrey has spent a lot of time and money on a Sustainability Charter. Its opening statement is a commitment by the city to place the principles of social, environmental and economic sustainability as the foundations of all council’s decisions. It is hard to see how this proposal fulfils anything but the last.

One of the goals of the charter is to “respect natural areas and minimize the impacts of economic activities on the environment.” How is this proposal compatible?

There is no transit in the area. Everyone who works there will be driving. Most patrons will also likely be driving; it’s a long cab ride from anywhere. Will they drink responsibly in the lounges and restaurants before getting back on Highway 99 to drive home?

Local businesses say they support the proposal now, but it’s hard to see how they will benefit. With acres of free parking, I imagine the proposed restaurants would suck business away from White Rock’s waterfront, particularly in winter. It will compete with hotels. I can’t imagine what the northern part of Surrey could hope to gain from a development on the southern-most edge of South Surrey.

K. Ross, Surrey