Saanich mayor continues push for casino to pay for projects

Saanich mayor continues push for casino to pay for projects
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Saanich's Mayor is continuing a push to bring a casino to the district in order to help pay projects across the municipality.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes is continuing a push to bring a casino to Saanich in order to help pay for projects in the municipality.

After the City of Victoria rejected the idea due to concerns around crime years ago, Saanich council signalled in 2019 that they were still interested.

The pandemic put the idea on hold, but now Haynes and Councillor Susan Brice are back in the fight.

“It’s a real opportunity to get some real funding for our amenities…. bicycle paths, sidewalks. How about a third ice surface for Saanich? How about a new international pump park?” the mayor said.

“Saanich is a heavily residential taxed municipality. 77 per cent of our taxes come from our residents, only 23 [per cent] comes from commerce and industry.”

The region’s only casino is in View Royal and the municipality says it has given them a big financial boost.

“We started doing all our playgrounds. We have done all sorts of things like community gardens. We have bought parkland with the funding. We have used it at West Shore Parks and Rec,” said View Royal Mayor David Screech.

It brings in more than $2-million a year to the municipality, however, the pandemic has kept the casino’s doors shut.

For Haynes, he estimates construction on a Saanich casino would take approximately two years.

While the potential for municipal revenue is a plus, there are concerns over addiction and negative impacts on surrounding communities. The Mayor of Saanich says, however, that from consultations the idea appears safe.

“The West Shore casino has been very successful, certainly with consultation with our police and other police we have not heard about any significant problems. And we’re very alive to that and that will be part of the conversation,” he said.

Mayor Screech says the B.C. Lottery Corporation assured him View Royal would be the premier gaming destination in the region and he doesn’t believe there is room for another casino in the area.

Mayor Haynes says they have heard of no limits to their plans from the BCLC and that Saanich is considering building a hotel and casino resort with seating, potentially in the lower hundreds.

Haynes suggests the resort could be built anywhere between their Municipal Hall and the University of Victoria.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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