Editorial: Casino was a good bet

Casino revenue sharing has kept taxes down, funded major projects and kept Langley City debt free

Gamblers, if they are honest, will tell you there is no such thing as a sure bet.

But, with the benefit of hindsight, the 2003 decision to approve a casino, theatre, hotel and convention centre complex on a parcel of vacant land in downtown Langley City comes pretty close.

The revenue-sharing deal with the Cascades Casino has helped the city become debt-free, kept taxes down and funded a wide range of valuable projects such as the new Timms community centre.

The casino has also brought in jobs and tourism dollars.

This year, the casino will add $6 million to city revenues under a deal that gives Langley a 10 per cent share of net profits.

The money has been earmarked for road upgrades, the Al Anderson pool, Penzer Park and a variety of other projects. During a recent council meeting, City Mayor Ted Schaffer revealed the indirect impact on taxes amounts to a 25 per cent break over the years the casino has been operating.

The July 11, 2003 Times coverage of the casino debate shows there were some doubters when then-mayor Marlene Grinnell and the 2003 council voted 6-1 in favour of approving the project.

Then-councillor Peter Fassbender was the lone “no” vote, saying he was “frustrated by a government that has become seduced by gambling revenue.”

At the time, the Township issued a letter of objection that said the “social impact” of the casino should be studied.

Then-Langley Township mayor Kurt Alberts told the Times the casino could hurt the image of the Township because people might confuse Langley City with Langley Township.

The reason the Township opposed the city casino was because “it detracts from the image the Township has aspired for,” Alberts said.