A proposal from Paragon Gaming for the relocation and expansion of its Edgewater Casino, with the support of landowner PavCo, was rejected last month by the City Council of Vancouver. The proposal, if approved, would have become the largest casino in Western Canada, adjacent to the B.C. Place stadium complex. The plan set off a battle between supporters and opponents of the 0-million plan. In the pro camp were current casino employees, the Vancouver Board of Trade, several unions, and the Downtown Business Improvement Association. Those opposing the plan included the Vancouver, Not Vegas! Coalition and a mix of local residents, academics, doctors and respected former politicians.
Altogether, over three nights and two days, city council listened to 145 people at a public hearing and received over 1,000 letters debating the plan. The last session stretched on for close to 15 hours. At the close, Paragon Gaming President Scott Menke offered a compromise. Instead of the 1,500 slot machines his company wanted to install in the new facility, he suggested city council could approve only 1,200 for the first two years, with the chance for Paragon to apply to add 300 more. Paragon would keep the proposed 150 table games. But it all was for naught, as the city councilors responded to their constituents and unanimously rejected the plan.
The result is the city of Vancouver will not create hundreds of casino jobs but also will lose $17 million annually Paragon planned to pay the city. The defeat could also compromise the building of one of the two planned hotels. Marriott International Inc. had come forward as Paragon’s partner on the hotels.
At present, Paragon operates Edgewater Casino at the Plaza of Nations, where it has 75 table games and 520 slots. Its lease expires in 2013, and the company said it may not seek a renewal if the move was not approved.