Casino timeline for today's meeting at city hall

12th and Cambie

Later today, the city’s development permit board is expected to decide whether to issue Paragon Holdings a development permit to build a $535-million casino complex adjacent to B.C. Place Stadium.

I updated a timeline I put together a few years ago that puts today’s meeting in some perspective.

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Here it is:

• In January 2004, city council approves slot machines for the Edgewater Casino at the Plaza of Nations, making it the first gaming facility in the city to have the machines. Then-mayor Larry Campbell and councillors Jim Green, Raymond Louie, Tim Stevenson and David Cadman vote for slots. Councillors Peter Ladner, Tim Louis, Anne Roberts and Fred Bass vote against. Sam Sullivan (conflict) and Ellen Woodsworth (absent) don't vote.

• Edgewater opens in February 2005. Then-owners Gary Jackson and Len Libin predict revenue to be $125 million for the first year of operation. Total revenue for 2005/2006 fiscal year is $73 million.

• In May 2006, Jackson and Libin file for protection from creditors under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act. No liquor licence for the gaming floor, lack of signs advertising the casino, parking limits and competition from suburban casinos contributed to the loss in revenues, Jackson tells the Courier.

• In September 2006, Jackson and Libin reach a deal with Paragon Gaming Inc. of Las Vegas to buy the casino for $43 million. Edgewater becomes the first foreign-owned casino in B.C.

• In October 2008, city council approves amendments to the False Creek North official development plan, which includes a reference to "a major casino that will also serve the city and region."

• In November 2008, Gregor Robertson and seven of his Vision Vancouver councillors are elected in the civic election. Edgewater slot supporters Louie, Stevenson and Cadman are re-elected.

• In April 2009, the B.C. Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), which is the provincial Crown agency that manages B.C. Place Stadium, issues a request for proposals for development of lands west of stadium.

• In June 2009, PavCo notifies Paragon it won the bid.

• In February 2010, Paragon signs 70-year lease with PavCo to build casino/hotel project adjacent to the stadium. The lease is subject to council approval and a series of factors outlined in PavCo's agreement, including securing $350 million in financing.

• In March 2010, Premier Gordon Campbell announces Paragon's plans for a casino, saying, "During the Olympic Winter Games, the streets of Vancouver were alive with the Olympic spirit and we hope this entertainment complex will help recapture some of that excitement."

• In June 2010, PavCo, Paragon and city staff hold two open houses on the project.

• In July 2010, the urban design panel — a city advisory committee — approves the project's design.

• In February 2011, the city hosts an open house on gaming that attracts more than 100 Edgewater employees concerned about their jobs. Paragon's lease at the Plaza of Nations expires in 2013.

• The next evening in Chinatown, more than 100 people attend a meeting organized by Vancouver, not Vegas!, a coalition opposed to Paragon's proposal. Renowned architect Bing Thom calls for a referendum on gaming expansion.

• Over the next two months, more than 140 people show up to council at hearings to voice concerns and support for Paragon’s proposal.

• In April 2011, the council of the day unanimously rejects Paragon’s proposal to expand gambling but gives the company the option to relocate to a site adjacent to B.C. Place Stadium.

• In November 2011, approves rezoning of the site at 39 Smithe St. In doing so, council approved the preliminary form of developed generally as prepared by IBI/HB Group on behalf of B.C. Pavilion Corporation.

• In September 2013, Paragon holds press conference to unveil a  $535-million “urban resort” for property adjacent to B.C. Place Stadium. The 700,000 sq. foot complex calls for the doubling of casino floor space, hotels of 15 and 25 storeys, a conference centre, five restaurants, a spa and a gym.

• In October 2013, Dr. Perry Kendall, who is the province’s health officer, released a report titled Lower the Stakes: A public health approach to gambling in British Columbia. The report showed that even though gambling activities have generally declined, the number of people with a severe gambling problem has risen from nearly 13,000 to 31,000 over a five-year period.

• Also in October 2013, Vision Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang successfully moves a motion at council to have staff review all of the city’s gambling facilities, with attention paid to Kendall’s 17 recommendations, which include placing signs that show the risk rating of electronic gaming machines, reducing the number of machines, and restricting access to alcohol in gaming facilities.

• In December 2013, news breaks that Paragon’s application will go before the city’s development permit board Dec. 16.

• Last week, the Vancouver Not Vegas! coalition holds a press conference to call for the development permit board to delay Paragon’s application. The coalition raises concerns about the doubling of casino floor space and the need to implement recommendations in the Kendall report. Coun. Jang says council won't interfere with application.

• Paragon’s application is scheduled to be heard at 3 p.m. today (16 Dec.) at city hall.

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