Sep 24 2009
Casino, convention centre proposed in South Surrey
Surrey will soon consider a proposal to build a $100-million destination casino northwest of 8 Avenue and 168 Street.
The plan – one of three gaming bids for the King George Highway corridor – includes a 200-suite hotel and 800-seat convention centre.
And builder Bob Cheema said he plans to go ahead with a hotel/convention project even if the province rejects his casino application. He is looking to build on a 24-acre parcel of land bordering Highway 99, a park and agricultural land reserve.
So far, Cheema’s proposal appears to be the preferred choice of some councillors, including Barinder Rasode.
“I do see some merits in the application for the convention centre hotel in the south close to the border, where we would attract people from the U.S.,” Rasode said. “It would be nice having people coming to this side of the border instead of the other way all the time.”
A second casino proposal, near the Days Inn at 9850 King George Hwy., could become part of an 80-storey project pitched by developer Ralph Berezan, co-owner of the Surrey Eagles junior hockey team. Depending on the scope, the project could be valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The third application expected to come before council this year is for $25 million in upgrades to the old bingo hall and mall in Newton at 72 Avenue and King George Highway, to create a community gaming facility.
Mayor Dianne Watts hasn’t seen the specific proposals, but said she would like to see a Surrey casino on the scale of Richmond’s River Rock.
“Personally, I’m not a gambler, but I like to see shows, theatre and music, and I think that’s one piece that’s certainly missing in Surrey,” she said.
Coun. Tom Gill said he believes any gaming operation that comes to Surrey “needs to leverage another significant city objective,” such as a five-star hotel or convention centre.
Gill said he likes the design of the Berezan proposal, but he would be reluctant to approve a large casino so close to Simon Fraser University. He is not in favour of the Newton application.
A sticking point for all of the proposals is word the province would be reticent to award any more casino licences.
“I think we’re pretty close to where we need to be,” Rich Coleman, minister responsible for gaming, said in March.
“I wouldn’t be a minister that would say, ‘Let’s do more.’”
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