Saanich will not be exploring possibilities for a future casino development, following a decisive council vote Monday evening.
A motion had been brought by Councillors Susan Brice and Colin Plant calling for council to support the development of a hotel, entertainment and
Brice said in the council meeting on Monday that the motion came in response to an offer from the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) to engage in consultation on developing a Casino in Saanich.
The offer also came in part due to the City of Victoria ultimately choosing not to engage with BCLC in consultations on a similar casino pitch.
During debate on the motion, multiple councillors expressed concerns with potential social harm from a casino, including money laundering and gambling addiction.
“My overall sense is it isn’t what our community needs,” said Councillor Rebecca Mersereau.
“My observation from other jurisdictions is that these facilities don’t seem to integrate well into communities. They don’t seem welcoming, and they don’t seem additive to a sense of community or a sense of belonging.”
She went on to point out that there are ways to access legalized gambling in the area already, with places like the Elements Casino or even online gambling.
At the conclusion of debate on the motion, Mayor Fred Haynes commented that council should offer BCLC a clear direction with their votes.
“It would be very good, I think, if we give a very clear and firm direction back to BCLC on how Saanich wants to move forward in a different approach to economic development, other than that which may have been available through a hotel-casino complex,” said Haynes on Monday.
“We’ve heard several other ideas today, and this council will be able to double-down on that work to ensure that we’re moving the economic dial, as we try to shift the tax burden off of our residents.”
Ultimately, the casino motion was voted down unanimously, including votes from Brice and Plant.