The proposed mega gambling and entertainment site is located at Yaletown and adjacent to the BC Place stadium. The deal is almost as good as go, although there will be a public hearing later for zoning development. Yet there are some design issues that have to be ironed out.
The city government doesn’t like the initial design that Paragon Gaming had put forth.
Paragon, a Vegas company, owns the Edgewater Casino on the BC Place land and the license for the casino will expire in mid-2013. So Paragon is anxious to move forward with the project in time for Edgewater to movie into. And PacCo, the crown corporation that owns the land and arranged a deal with Paragon, promised to try and expedite the zoning process with the city.
The new casino complex will have three times the casino space for Edgewater to expand into or about 100,000 sq ft. However, any delay by the city would mean a lost of cash for Paragon. And here is Vancouver who wants green too but it ain’t about money.
City planning director Brent Toderian indicated this a great chance for Vancouver to build a ‘green urban casino’. Toderian also cited the new Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC) that housed the international press for the 2010 Olympics as a fine example of what Vancouver is looking for.
The waterfront structure has work spaces in the centre of the building while corridors and hallways circled around the outer edges of the building with floor to ceiling windows providing an unobtrusive harbour view of the great city of Vancouver.
I think the city probably would like it even more if Paragon can come up with some innovative ideas that have environmental values in them. For example, the VCC has a 6-acre living roof with local plants growing on it to mediate the temperature of the building so it can have a cooler summer and warmer winter and it helps in rainwater reuse as well. This together with some other features like an undersea habitat to sustain coral and other ocean lives earned the VCC a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Canada Platinum rating.
The new casino which is scheduled to be finished by mid-2012 will generate $130 Million a year in gambling revenue for the province. The BC Place is actually provincial land managed by PavCo, a crown corporation, so how much influence Vancouver can have in this matter will help decide how green the casino complex will eventually be.
Right now, after the 2010 Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies, BC Place has one other show this year and that’s the Vancouver International Auto Show which is currently going on until Sunday April 04. Immediately after that, BC Place will close and renovation work will start in May this year to allow the retractable roof to be built.
BC Place will reopen again by mid-2011 in time for the Grey Cup games.
What surprises me the most is the easy acceptance of this casino/two hotel complex proposal in Vancouver. At least there is no public outcry just yet, unlike it had in the mid-1990s when a similar idea named the Seaport Centre was conceived. Perhaps Vancouver had indeed grown up. After the 2010 Olympics exercise that the city and its citizens had endured in the last few years, we realized what the pay-off of an event like that could mean to the city in terms of worldwide approval. Yes, we are now finally a world-class city that welds a certain power which other cities can only envy.
In the past, most Vancouverites focused on the negatives that such a gaming project can bring. Those adverse effects still exist for the critics, but citizens now seem more interested in the benefits and also expressed a quiet acknowledgement that if the city were to continue to prosper, it needs this kind of initiatives. So let’s get on with it instead of voting against it.
If that turns out to be true, I say that’s a welcoming change.