By ROY WOOD
Save for the musings of the chief administrative officer, Osoyoos council agreed to support the Osoyoos Indian Band’s bid for a gaming centre with zero discussion on the potential negative impacts associated with gambling.
The OIB is seeking provincial approval for a 6,000-7,500-square-foot facility to be built across the street from the PetroCan station on Highway 3. According to a report to council from CAO Allan Chabot, plans call for 100 to 150 electronic slot machines, 100 electronic bingo machines, an off-track betting area and a 50-60-seat pub/bistro.
The band was seeking a letter of support from the town for their application to the province.
Because the facility is to be built on OIB land, the town is not entitled to any of the “host local government share” of the revenue, which will go to the band.
However, Chabot’s report said: “The gaming centre would result in local construction employment and expenditures and casino service provider jobs, once it (is) operational. A gaming centre may also result in increased hotel/motel and food service revenue, overnight stays and retention of gambling revenues that currently leave the community for other venues.”
The CAO noted that since the facility is on band land, the town will have limited tools to mitigate the potential impacts of gambling. “(So) it will be necessary to maintain good relations and communication with the (OIB) to manage any negative impacts, should they arise,” his report said.
Departing from the prepared text, Chabot said to council members: “The availability of casino-style games and gambling opportunities in our society has become rather pervasive and I don’t know if that’s a justification for more (of them). But it’s certainly an activity (whose) impact is widespread and felt by most communities. …
“It seems as though this (proposal) provides some positive economic benefit that could potentially more than outweigh any negative socio-economic impacts.”
Chabot continued, “I do note that a full assessment of the potential socio-economic impacts of a community gaming centre being located in Osoyoos is far beyond the scope of this report.”
Following Chabot’s report, Councillor Jim King moved that the town “provide a letter of support to the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Brach” in support of the OIB application for a licence. Councillor CJ Rhodes seconded the motion.
Mayor Sue McKortoff asked if members of council had any concerns. No one did. The motion passed unanimously.