Edgewater Casino confusion prompts renewed legal action

A group that opposes a casino at BC Place stadium said Thursday it will proceed with a lawsuit that it filed 18 months ago.

A group that opposes a casino at BC Place stadium said Thursday it will proceed with a lawsuit that it filed 18 months ago.

In a November 7, 2011, BC Supreme Court petition against City of Vancouver, Lindsay Brown of the Vancouver Not Vegas coalition asked for the proposed relocation of Paragon Gaming's Edgewater Casino from the Plaza of Nations to be quashed because neither the city nor the provincial government followed procedures.

Paragon unanimously lost an April 2011 Vancouver city council vote on its bid to expand the 75-table, 600-slot machine licence to 150 tables and 1,500 slots. City council, however, automatically permitted the company to move the existing licence without an additional hearing. The project has been in limbo while the company scales back its proposal.

"This project has all the earmarks of a financial fiasco," said Vancouver Not Vegas co-founder Sandy Garossino. "Incredibly, the public knows even less about the Edgewater Casino proposal today than it did in 2010. Once again [BC Pavilion Corp. (PavCo)] has announced a done deal to the public, only this time without even the courtesy of telling us what we are committed to."

Vancouver Not Vegas was spurred into action by April 25 comments made to CBC by PavCo chair Peter Fassbender. Fassbender claimed Paragon now has a lease for 99 years. In 2011, PavCo said the deal was for 70 years. Fassbender was reacting to NDP leader Adrian Dix's proposal to privatize money-losing, debt-laden BC Place if the NDP wins the May 14 election.

"The fact that we have signed agreements between ourselves and Paragon is a major step forward," Fassbender, who is also the Surrey-Fleetwood BC Liberal candidate, told CBC. "Any agreement that they make would bind any future owner of the facility."

Fassbender back-tracked Wednesday from the CBC comments, claiming now that the two parties are still in talks.

"There are certain things dealing with PavCo where it is issues with potential partners and so on that I'm not prepared to comment on because they're still in negotiations and the official position that was given you in respect to Paragon is we're still in discussions," Fassbender told Business in Vancouver. "Discussions have not been concluded yet."

The CBC interview was conducted at Fassbender's Liberal campaign office, with a campaign sign in the background. The Board Resourcing and Development Office, which governs Crown corporation appointees like Fassbender, broadly mandates that, "Other memberships, directorships, voluntary or paid positions or affiliations remain distinct from work undertaken in the course of performing their duties as public appointees."

BRDO's General Conduct Principles for Public Appointees also state that, "Actions taken in the course of performing duties as public appointees neither cause nor suggest the reality or perception that their ability to perform or exercise those duties has been or could be affected by private gain or interest."

Fassbender said, "There is always a fine line when you become a candidate. I did not step aside because we have made some significant momentum as a board at PavCo on dealing with some of the future opportunities and the marketing opportunities and I felt a responsibility to maintain my responsibility with the board until after the election.

"Once the election is over and I win the seat," Fassbender continued, "of course, I will have to resign."

PavCo's board also includes former NPA city councillor Suzanne Anton, a Liberal candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview. Anton voted with the rest of council on the Edgewater expansion and relocation motions in 2011, but claimed afterward that she supported the casino proposal.

BMackin@biv.com

twitter.com/bobmackin

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