Richmond casino planning expansion

B.C.‘s biggest casino is one step closer to growing even bigger.

Richmond city staff has recommended a permit be granted to allow the 151,000-square-foot River Rock Casino Resort to build a 38,000-sq.-ft. addition that would link it to a station under construction across the street for the Canada Line.

The application will be heard Tuesday afternoon by the development permit panel.

The addition would bring the casino up to about 190,000 sq. ft., just short of the 200,000 sq. ft. allowed under existing zoning, which permits 50-per-cent development on the 400,000-sq.-ft. site, said city spokeswoman Kim Decker.

The new portion, to include a two-storey building housing gambling, office space and restaurants, would be built on the north side of the existing development.

The staff report referred to further future expansion plans. Rezoning would be required for anything beyond 200,000 sq. ft.

Great Canadian spokesman Howard Blank didn’t return phone calls.

The Richmond Chamber of Commerce supports the expansion, which it said will bring more revenue for projects such as the Olympic Skating Oval facility through the taxes the casino pays.

But Bill Chu of the Multicultural Coalition Against Gambling Expansion said city councillors misled voters ears ago when they promised no further tax increases if River Rock was allowed to build.

„Taxes since then have been going up and up,“ he said.

Chu said a random poll found 85 per cent of residents opposed the casino because of higher crime rates and social problems, such as gambling addiction and family breakdown.

He’s calling for voters to replace city councillors in the fall municipal elections.