Vancouver City Council
DEVELOPMENT AND BUILDING
Date: November 17, 2003
Author/Local: D. Thomsett/7796
RTS No. 03754
CC File No. 5307
Meeting Date: December 2, 2003
Vancouver City Council
Director of Current Planning in Consultation with Director of Social Planning and General Manager of Engineering Services
CD-1 Text Amendment - 750 Pacific Boulevard (Plaza of Nations)
A. THAT the application by Patrick Cotter Architect Inc., to amend CD-1 By-law No. 7592 for 750 Pacific Boulevard (Plaza of Nations) to permit Casino - Class 2, this being a casino that includes slot machines, be referred to a Public Hearing together with:
(i) draft CD-1 By-law provisions, generally as presented in Appendix A;
(ii) the recommendation of the Director of Current Planning to approve, subject to conditions generally as presented in Appendix C; and
(iii) draft consequential amendments initiated by the Director of Current Planning to amend the definition of Casino - Class 2 under Section 2, and to amend Section 10.31.2 to permit Casino - Class 2 only where expressly permitted.
FURTHER THAT the Director of Legal Services be instructed to prepare the necessary amending by-laws generally in accordance with Appendix A for consideration at the Public Hearing.
B. THAT, if the rezoning is approved, at the time of enactment the by-law be accompanied by amendments to the License By-law to delete the Casino definition and define Casino - Class 1 and Casino - Class 2 in Schedule A with a corresponding per annum fee of $195 for Casino - Class 1 and $8,792 for Casino - Class 2, generally as presented in Appendix B.
FURTHER THAT the Director of Legal Services be instructed to prepare the necessary by-laws for enactment, pending approval of the rezoning, generally in accordance with Appendix B.
CITY MANAGER'S COMMENTS
The City Manager RECOMMENDS approval of the foregoing, noting that the introduction of slot machines into Vancouver is a controversial issue. If Council chooses to refer the application to a Public Hearing, that venue will provide an opportunity for members of the public to speak directly to Council on the matter. The holding of an Open House prior to the Public Hearing will provide an opportunity for local residents to receive all the information available on this rezoning application. As well, polling will provide further information to Council on the views of Vancouver's residents.
Given the temporary nature of this proposal, it does not incorporate a new bingo facility as indicated in the Council Resolution of July 31, 2003. The proponents, as well as the bingo charities associated with the bingo hall, have agreed that the new bingo hall will be part of the permanent facility once it is approved and developed. The bingo charities are satisfied with the interim arrangement.
Starting January 27, 1987, Council has passed a number of resolutions outlining its position on a variety of gaming policy issues. Some resolutions have dealt with the need to recognize the municipal role in defining gaming policy matters as they affect local communities, a role now defined under the Gaming Control Act (2002), as well as in the Memorandum of Agreement (signed in 1999) with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). A detailed chronology of policy decisions is presented in Appendix D.
The rezoning application for the Plaza of Nations site was submitted following the Council resolution of July 31, 2003 requesting staff to report back on the procedural and other issues relevant to the introduction of slot machines at one consolidated casino.
PURPOSE AND SUMMARY
A rezoning application to amend the CD-1 By-law pertaining to the Plaza of Nations to permit a temporary (3-4 years) Casino - Class 2 with 600 slot machines, 60 gaming tables, a theatre and support space in Building C, the "Enterprise Hall", was submitted by PatrickCotter Architect Inc. (representing the Royal Diamond Casino and the Grand Casino). This report assesses the application in the context of the broader issues identified by Council, and concludes that on balance, the proposal is supportable. Staff recommend the application be referred to a Public Hearing and be approved.
Historical Council Policy on Slot Machines: Slot machines were first introduced in B.C. in 1997. On October 7, 1997, Council adopted amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to only permit casinos without slot machines.
Historically, Council's concerns with gaming expansion, including the introduction of slot machines, have included issues related to the need for comprehensive provincial gaming legislation, recognition of a municipal role in determining location and scope of gamingfacilities, concerns of the negative impacts and lack of services for those affected by gambling addiction, protection of charities' revenues, and sharing of gaming revenues with local governments. Most of these issues have been positively addressed, either through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement with UBCM in 1999, the enactment of the Gaming Control Act of 2002, or the implementation of government sponsored problem gambling programs and other programs.
Provincial Policy on Slot Machines at Casinos: Currently, the provincial government permits slot machines at most casinos in the Province. The five casinos located in the City of Vancouver remain without slot machines. The municipality of Richmond which presently has a casino without slots, has authorized the Great Canadian casino located at Number 3 Road to relocate to a new facility with slot machines at Bridgepoint (scheduled to be open in the Spring of 2004).
The five Vancouver-based casinos are:
1. Great Canadian Casino at 709 West Broadway,
2. Great Canadian Casino at 1133 West Hastings Street(Renaissance)*,
3. Gateway Casino at 611 Main Street,
4. Grand Casino at 725 S.E. Marine Drive, and
5. Royal Diamond Casino at 750 Pacific Boulevard.
* Note: The casino at the Renaissance is scheduled to close down once the new Great Canadian Casino in Richmond opens in 2004.
In January of 2002 the provincial government authorized the Royal Diamond and Grand casinos to relocate and include slot machines in their facilities. Both of these casinos have now agreed to amalgamate their facilities into one casino, which is the basis of this rezoning application.
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has indicated to the City its desire to place slot machines at the Hastings Racecourse and in one Vancouver casino. However, it has also indicated its willingness to accept and respect the City's position to approve or refuse slots at either location. It is also possible that some casinos in Vancouver may cease operations or move.
Rezoning Application Approach: On July 24, 2003, staff brought forward a report to Council presenting the option of further considering the introduction of slot machines at Hastings Racecourse (the report also included comments on a proposal for a combined casino that has been brought forward by the operators of the Royal Diamond and Grand casinos). The consideration for slot machines at the Racecourse has been the subject of discussionsince the operators wrote a letter to Council on March 10, 2003 requesting approval for the introduction of slot machines at the Racecourse.
On July 31, 2003, Council requested staff to report back on the procedural and other issues relevant to the introduction of slot machines at the Racecourse. Council further requested staff to report on the introduction of slot machines at one consolidated casino which would include an adjacent or free-standing new Bingo facility. Since the only procedure for introducing slot machines is through a rezoning, and since issues related to this are specific to each site proposed for rezoning, proponents were asked to make rezoning applications that would be taken through the normal review and public process. This report deals with the consolidated casino proposal. A rezoning application for slot machines at the Racecourse is dealt with in a separate report.
The casino proponents are seeking a permanent site for a new casino with a bingo facility. However, that project (site selection, programming, design, approvals, construction and occupancy) will take several years to accomplish. In the interim, the proponents wish to locate a temporary Casino - Class 2 at the Plaza of Nations.
Implications to Bingo Charities: The July 31, 2003 Council resolution to further consider a consolidated casino with slot machines included consideration for an adjacent or free-standing new bingo facility. The rationale behind this consideration for a new bingo hall arises from the fact that the Vancouver-based bingo charities expressed their concerns to Council regarding potential negative effects if slot machines were introduced in Vancouver in the absence of a comprehensive strategy that included the bingo charities needs and concerns.
Representatives from the Mount Pleasant Starship Community Charitable Association (MPSCCA) which operates the Planet Bingo facility at 2655 Main Street have indicated to staff through a letter dated October 17, 2003 (attached as Appendix E) that they have reached an understanding with the casino operators as well as with the BC Lottery Corporation to address their needs during the interim period as discussed under Project Description. The bingo charities have expectations of a new bingo hall being built no later than 2006.
Project Description: Proposed, is a temporary Casino - Class 2 with 600 slot machines and 60 gaming tables at Building C, the "Enterprise Hall", on the waterfront. The total floor area of the building is 6 377 m² (68,639 sq. ft). The amount proposed for the slot machines, gaming tables and related circulation is 3 387 m² (36,468 sq. ft.). The casino would operate the existing theatre for performances, music and comedy, sports and major event broadcasting as well as making it available to outside users.
Access to Building C would be provided by means of a drive aisle connecting from Pacific Boulevard to the north end of the building. A turn-around with short term parking and a lay-by for passenger vehicles would be provided at the north end of the building. Customers would access the building via a new covered walkway along the west side of the building and enter through a new vestibule.
The main floor would contain slot machines, gaming tables, a café, a lounge and back-of-house space. The second floor would contain slot machines, gaming tables and the existing theatre. The third floor would contain staff facilities. The exterior of the building would be largely unchanged except for new decorative banners, lighting of portions of the building face, the covered walkway and the entry vestibule. A landscape plan would be developed by the applicant.
The applicant advises that the temporary period needed for a casino at Plaza of Nations before their permanent facility is expected to be ready for occupancy is three years with a possible one-year extension.
On October 29, 2003, the applicant advised in a letter that the casino proponent is willing to provide space for a small interim Bingo operation in Building C. He notes that "We have received a proposal to relocate the Cordial Hall Bingo contract to the Plaza of Nations as an interim step, subject to BCLC approval." Provision of a temporary non-profit bingo facility is in line with Council's objective for the eventual building of a new non-profit bingo facility. Bingo Hall is already permitted under the CD-1 By-law, within the total floor area permitted for all entertainment uses.
Use: The False Creek North Official Development Plan indicates that the three commercial buildings in Area 6(b), the Plaza of Nations Complex, should remain and be used for commercial purposes and that a family sports and entertainment centre may be permitted within an existing building. Public access is to be guaranteed through the site at all times, and the performance space within the Plaza is to be made available for events on a commercial basis. Provision is also made for hotel use.
Under the existing CD-1 By-law that applies to the whole site, various uses are permitted, with upper limits placed on entertainment uses, Hotel (never built), Office and Retail Uses, and Production and Rehearsal Studio. Entertainment uses include Hall, Casino - Class 1, Theatre and Clubs. A Casino - Class 1 (as previously existed on the site from 1994 to 2001) may not include slot machines.
It can be argued that since the ODP calls for commercial and entertainment uses, and the CD-1 permits Casino - Class 1 which includes gaming, the introduction of Casino - Class 2 with slot machines is an appropriate use for this site. However, while the use, per se, maybe appropriate, the significant scale of the change warrants a close look at the community impacts resulting from a more intense form of gaming.
Staff recommend that an upper limit be placed in the CD-1 By-law on the amount of floor area for slot machines, gaming tables and related circulation, as currently proposed, to avoid requests for more gaming area to be approved in the future in other locations within the Plaza of Nations complex.
Density: With the casino proposing to occupy existing space with only a new entry vestibule addition and a covered walkway, density is not an issue. However, subject to further file research, the maximum permitted floor area for entertainment use may already have been reached. Usual practice is to include covered walkways and entry vestibules in the calculation of floor area. To avoid the possible need for a further text amendment to the CD-1 By-law should provision for more floor area be found to be needed, staff propose adding a clause to exclude from floor area calculations covered walkways and entry vestibules to provide weather protection for access to Casino - Class 1 or Casino - Class 2, which would be subject to a design review at the development application stage.
Form of Development: Council is being asked at this time only to approve the change to the CD-1 By-law to permit Casino - Class 2. All of the details pertaining to building form, access, parking, mitigation measures, signage and community amenity issues will be dealt with at the development permit stage. A preliminary design review of the proposal is outlined in Appendix D, and issues needing to be resolved at the development application stage are set out in Appendix C.
Once the development application has been processed to the point of approval, staff will report back and seek Council's formal approval of a revised form of development, prior to the issuance of a development permit. All of the identified issues will then be resolved to the satisfaction of Council.
Hours of Operation: The proponents expect to open the temporary casino in May, 2004, after which it would operate 21 hours per day, seven days per week. The hours would be adjusted based on customer demand. This matter will be addressed at the development application stage, with consideration given to community impacts and impact mitigation.
Traffic and Parking: The applicant has commissioned a traffic and parking study, including an estimation of parking demand, that will be completed prior to the public hearing. Following staff analysis of this study, the draft parking regulations outlined in Appendix A may be altered. To date, the applicant has provided a general concept of how traffic and parking would be handled.
The applicant advises that parking would be provided on vacant lands east of the Plaza of Nations complex. This is a separate site from the Plaza of Nations site. The applicant proposes that the parking area accommodate approximately 1,200 vehicles, generally as shown on the map, below. This would be accessed from the new drive aisle, with alternate entry/exit points at Carrall Street and/or Quebec Street. Planters and trees would be used to soften the appearance of the parking lot. A covered walkway would be built through the parking lot, and shuttle and valet service may also be provided.
There is a site immediately to the east of the Plaza of Nations that would be well suited to a short-term parking lot to service the casino. However, this property is apparently not being made available by Concord Pacific for parking use, possibly for tax assessment reasons.
In explaining to staff the need for the vast size and number of vehicles expected to be accommodated in the proposed parking lot, the applicant has clarified that parking demand associated with other unrelated users must be accommodated in the facility in order for them to secure parking for casino use from Pacific Place Holdings Ltd. who apparently manages the lands. The applicant suggests the parking details be dealt with later, as part of the development application process.
Staff have advised the applicant that a 1,200 space parking lot for the casino will not be supported on the proposed site which is controlled by the False Creek North Official Development Plan. The ODP permits appropriate temporary uses, so parking can be considered on the site without rezoning. The westerly approximately 1/3rd of the site is expected to be developed in the future as part of Area 6(c) by Concord Pacific who is making the land available to the casino for temporary parking. The remainder of the site is to become a park ("Creekside Park Extension") which is developed concurrently with parcel 6(a), now in the approval process, or parcel 6(c) - whichever proceeds first. Staff do not support delaying the timing of the park construction to accommodate a parking lot. Accordingly, staff support the use of the westerly portion of these lands for parking as this is the area designated in the ODP for development and would not intrude on the area designated for park (east of a line projected south along the easterly alignment of Carrall Street). Staff recommend that this parking be strictly limited to ancillary parking needed to support the casino, with minimum and maximum numbers of spaces as recommended by Engineering Services. These numbers will be generated in time for insertion into the CD-1 By-law and consideration at the Public Hearing. Staff urge that no casino ancillary parking be allocated on the park site.
It is projected that the casino can meet something greater than the minimum parking required to service the casino on the lands to the west of the park site, but not the proposed maximum permitted parking. Alternative sites in the vicinity could be accessed to maximize the ancillary parking, preferably on other future development sites and preferably those already developed for interim parking.
It is notable that parking as a principal use on an interim, time-limited basis is available throughout the ODP area, including on future park sites. If the owner of the park site to the east of the Plaza of Nations wishes to have approval for surface parking, not tied as the required ancillary parking for the casino, but, rather, independently, a development permit application can be separately applied for. This would still allow the park construction to proceed when required which may be prior to the relocation of the casino use.
The applicant has responded that the parking for the casino cannot be secured without accommodating other unrelated parking users.
During the annual Indy car racing event held on the proposed parking lot lands, the applicant advises that temporary off-site parking for the duration would be provided on Lot 101 to the south-east of BC Place Stadium. He states the lot would accommodate up to 500 parking spaces, and a shuttle service would be provided.
All matters pertaining to traffic management and parking, including landscaping, pedestrian access and urban design of the parking area would be reviewed and resolved at the development application stage and be reported to Council as part of the proposed changes to the approved form of development on the Plaza of Nations site. It will be expected that the design for the parking will meet normal standards for surface parking lots which includes landscaping requirements. A particular expectation will be a fully finished pedestrian walkway between Pacific Boulevard and the seawalk, parallel with and to the east of the Carrall Street alignment.
Seawalk and Bicycle Route Continuity: Currently the seawalk and bicycle route passes through the site's central plaza and along the northerly edge of the proposed casino building. The continuity of this facility must be maintained either by reducing the size, or pulling to the north, the proposed vehicular drop-off, or designing the route so that it passes around the southerly point of the proposed casino. In either case the full standard seawalk and bicycle widths should be maintained, as well as for other portions of the seawalk and bicycle route on the easterly side of the Plaza of Nations and beside the proposed parking area to the east.
Neighbourhood Impacts and Mitigation Measures: The impacts on the local community from this proposal are expected to pertain mostly to traffic generation and on-street parking. More clarity on these impacts will come from the traffic and parking study, and at the development application stage. Appropriate mitigation measures will be developed through this process and any costs will be bourne by the applicant as a condition of final approval of the form of development by Council.
Public Process and Community Issues: While the introduction of Casino - Class 2 with slot machines may generally be controversial, staff have so far received little feedback from members of the public, especially those nearby who might be directly affected by the casino. In part, this may be because a casino had long existed on the site and also because the site is somewhat isolated from nearby residents and businesses. This differs from the proposal to introduce slot machines at Hastings Racecourse which has resulted in considerable controversy in the surrounding neighbourhood.
The referral of this report to a public hearing will provide an opportunity for members of the public to speak to this issue. The process associated with the issuing of a development permit will provide additional opportunities for public input. As indicated earlier, staff will have to report back to Council to seek formal approval of the form of development, at which point Council can deal with specific mitigation measures and conditions that members of the public would have an opportunity to speak to Council about.
Prior to holding the Public Hearing, staff will organize an Open House at a community facility near the Plaza of Nations complex. Information related to the rezoning applicationwill be presented to the public, and members of City staff and representatives from the applicant will be at hand to answer any questions and to gather feedback from those attending the Open House. During the same period, City staff will commission a public poll to measure levels of understanding among Vancouverites in relationship to the introduction of Casino - Class 2 at the Plaza of Nations. In accordance with usual cost recovery policies, the applicant will pay for the costs of the Open House and the public poll.
Incidence and Costs of Gambling Addiction: Citizens have long expressed concerns about social impacts arising from the introduction of slot machines into casinos. The main concern relates to gambling addiction and the expanded enticement for those who suffer from this condition. Information related to this issue was an important component of the Administrative Report "Introduction of Slot Machines at Hastings Park Racetrack" presented to Council on July 24, 2003, which is available online at:
In the above mentioned report, it is indicated that in the province of British Columbia, the current prevalence for problem gamblers is at 4.6% of the adult population. Other addiction studies conducted in other provinces during the last few years, indicate that an estimated 3% to 6% of the adult population suffer from problem gambling (Gambling in Canada, An Overview, Canada West Foundation, August 2001).
There is evidence that for addicted gamblers their behavior has potentially both a financial and an emotional price. It is difficult to assess the costs that are directly and exclusively associated with gambling behaviour. According to a recent study published by the Canada West Foundation: "Policy makers need to be aware of the impacts of gambling to balance the trade-off between the desire to provide gambling opportunities and the desire to minimize the harm to individuals." (Triumph, Tragedy or Trade-Off? - Considering the Impacts of Gambling, Canada West Foundation, August, 2001).
Policing Issues: The introduction of slot machines to the casino at Plaza of Nations will bring increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic to the area. This increase in traffic may bring additional pressures on the Police that will have to be monitored. There could also be increased criminal activities in the surrounding neighbourhood and throughout the city that can be linked to this expansion of gaming activity. The Police Department will need to assess the potential increased demands for policing services. The analysis of these demands will have to be carried out during the development permit process.
Benefits to the City of Vancouver: The City of Vancouver, similar to other municipalitieshosting casinos in British Columbia, receives a portion of casino revenue. At present, the City receives ten percent of the net casino revenue, which in 2002 generated $3.7 million. It is projected that this year the City will receive $3.9 million from casino revenue. As more casinos with slot machines became operational in the Greater Vancouver region (casinos in Richmond and Langley are scheduled to open in the near future), the revenue generated by Vancouver's table-only casinos will likely diminish.
If slot machines are introduced into Vancouver, the BC Lottery Corporation has indicated that the City will also receive ten percent of the net revenue generated by slot machines, which in the case of the combined casino at Plaza of Nations with 600 machines and 60 gaming tables, is projected to generate an additional $10 to $12 million a year for the City of Vancouver (BCLC estimates). Staff have not analyzed these projections.
Other Stated Economic Benefits: The applicant states that over 400 jobs will be protected since the Royal Diamond and Grand casinos, combined here, will continue to operate in the City of Vancouver.
The applicant states further: "In addition, the Mount Pleasant Starship Community Charitable Association and the Cordial Bingo Association can develop a feasible business plan with Grand Casino and Royal Diamond Casino for the long-term sustainability of their Bingo business and the charitable activities associated with these operations."
Normal practice is for staff to seek comments from rezoning applicants on the final report. The applicant, Patrick Cotter, Architect, comments as follows:
"Building Transparency (Appendix `C', Page 2, Item 9) - Our approach to the building will respect the transparent nature of the existing glass building, and will seek to maintain this transparency to the extent possible given the technical and functional requirements of the space. These include achieving and maintaining prescribed lighting levels and conditions for video surveillance and monitoring of the facility. The use of screening and shading devices within the space will be required."
The application to install a temporary Casino - Class 2 with 600 slot machines and 60 gaming tables at the Plaza of Nations raises controversial issues including concerns about potential gambling addiction, the amount of traffic generated and parking required for the 21 hour per day, seven day a week operation. A significant issue is the applicant's assertion that the proponents must have a parking facility to accommodate 1,200 vehicles, includingparking for unrelated users, or the project is in jeopardy, while the ODP designates more than half the proposed parking area for pending park development.
However, the use is not inconsistent with the commercial and entertainment orientation of the Plaza of Nations site. Furthermore, the proposal is expected to maintain 400 casino jobs and the revenue share to the City would help pay for public benefits nearby and elsewhere in the city on an ongoing basis. Traffic and noise mitigation measures, as determined by further studies, would be paid for by the proponents.
On balance, staff recommend the amendment to the CD-1 By-law to permit a temporary Casino - Class 2 at the Plaza of Nations subject to conditions to guarantee its temporary nature, limit the amount and geography of the parking and provide for pedestrian linkages and quality enhancements to the site.
* * * * *
DRAFT BY-LAW AMENDMENTS REQUIRING A PUBLIC HEARING
Note: By-laws will be drafted generally in accordance with the provisions listed below; subject to change and refinement prior to posting.
DRAFT CD-1 AMENDING BY-LAW PROVISIONS:
CD-1 By-law No. 7592 for 750 Pacific Boulevard (Plaza of Nations) is amended as follows:
Amend Section 2, Uses, to add Casino - Class 2 as a permitted use.
Conditions of Use:
Amend Section 3, Conditions of Use, to provide that for Casino - Class 1 or Casino - Class 2, the amount of floor area for gaming activity and related circulation be limited to 3 400 m² (36,598 sq. ft.). For the purpose of this By-law, gaming activity means either slot machines or gaming tables or a combination of slot machines and gaming tables.
Further amend this section to provide that for Casino - Class 2, gaming activity be limited to 600 slot machines and 60 gaming tables.
Floor Area and Density:
Amend Table 1, section 4.2 under Section 4, Floor Area and Density, to add Casino - Class 2 into the Use box along with Hall, Casino - Class 1, Bingo Hall, Theatre and Clubs.
Amend section 4.4 to provide that for Casino - Class 1 and Casino - Class 2, covered walkways and entry vestibules provided for weather protection may be excluded from the computation of floor area.
Amend Section 6 by deleting the text and replacing it with new regulations*:
Parking, loading, bicycle, and passenger spaces are to be provided in accordance with the Parking By-law, including the availability of exemption and relaxation provisions, except:
a) For all uses except Hotel, Casino - Class 1, Casino - Class 2, theatre ancillary to Casino and restaurant ancillary to Casino, a minimum of one parking space shall be required per 80 square metres of gross floor area, with a maximum number of parking spaces permitted that is 20 percent greater than the minimum.
b) For Hotel, section 4.3.2 of the Parking By-law shall apply.
c) For Casino - Class 1, a minimum of one parking space shall be required per 18.6 square metres of gaming activity and related circulation, and the maximum number of parking spaces permitted is 20 percent greater than the minimum.
d) For Casino - Class 2 up to a maximum of 3 400 square metres of gaming area and related circulation, the minimum number of parking spaces required shall be 228, and the maximum number of permitted parking spaces shall be 306.
e) For theatre ancillary to Casino, the maximum permitted parking spaces shall be as per section 22.214.171.124 of the Parking By-law, with the minimum required parking being 50 percent of the maximum.
f) For restaurant ancillary to Casino, the maximum permitted parking spaces shall be as per section 126.96.36.199 of the Parking By-law, with the minimum required being 50 percent of the maximum.
*Note: The draft regulations are subject to change following receipt analysis of the traffic and parking study to be submitted prior to the Public Hearing.
Amend wording with modern by-law language.
DRAFT AMENDMENTS TO SECTION 2 OF THE ZONING AND DEVELOPMENT BY-LAW:
Section 2, Definitions:
Section 2 is amended to correct references in the definitions of Casino - Class 1 and Casino -Class 2 to reflect the language used in the Gaming Control Act.
Section 10, General Regulations:
Section 10.31.2, a general prohibition of Casino - Class 2, is amended to continue to generally prohibit Casino - Class 2, "except as expressly permitted".
- - - - -
DRAFT BY-LAW AMENDMENTS NOT REQUIRING A PUBLIC HEARING
The License By-law is amended to:
a) delete the current definition of Casino.
b) define Casino - Class 1 and Casino - Class 2, substantially in accordance with the definitions for Casino - Class 1 and Casino - Class 2 as defined in Section 2 of the Zoning and Development By-law*
* Note: These definitions are recommended to be amended to correct references to reflect the language used in the Gaming Control Act.
c) set an annual business license fee of $195 for Casino - Class 1 and $8,792 for Casino - Class 2.
PROPOSED CONDITIONS OF APPROVAL
Note: Recommended approved conditions will be prepared generally in accordance with the draft conditions listed below, subject to change and refinement prior to finalization of the agenda for the Public Hearing.
(a) That, prior to the enactment of the CD-1 amending by-law, the proponents shall make arrangements to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning and the Director of Legal Services to ensure that the Casino - Class 2 at the Plaza of Nations complex will only operate at this location for up to four years after the issuance of the initial occupancy permit for this use.
(b) That, prior to approval by Council of an amended form of development for the Plaza of Nations complex to accommodate a temporary Casino - Class 2, the applicant shall obtain approval of a development application by the Development Permit Board which shall have particular regard to the following:
(i) Casino - Class 2 use to be limited to a period of no greater than four years from initial occupancy.
(ii) Approval of an accompanying development application by the Development Permit Board for off-site parking facilities for the required ancillary parking to service the Casino development with due regard to the location which may not extend past a line extending the east side of Carrall Street from Pacific Boulevard to the shoreline. As well, due regard for size, number of vehicles to be accommodated including bus parking and landscape treatment, entries/exits and pedestrian accommodation along the waterfront, if a waterfront site is chosen, and within and through the site as deemed appropriate. Casino parking, including circulation and access aisles, located to the east of a line projected south along the easterly alignment of Carrall Street is not supported.
(iii) Arrangements to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning in Consultation with the General Manager of Engineering Services for:
(1) The provision of improvements to Pacific Boulevard adjacent or in proximity to the site, and new or modified signalization, as required;
(2) The location and design of access to/from, and circulation routes within, the site;
(3) The design of all parking areas, and passenger and goods loading facilities;
(4) Improvements to support pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders, in particular, but not limited to, modifications to the False Creek Seawall in or surrounding the site, and adjacent to any parking areas developed in association with this application, and interim development of the Carrall Street Greenway from Pacific Boulevard to the Seawall;
(5) Operation of the Plaza of Nations site once the proposed casino is operational with respect to the entire calendar of special events anticipated;
(6) An access and event operations plan to address vehicular access and parking when there are events at major venues within the area that would affect the availability of parking for the casino;
(7) Appropriate traffic and noise mitigation measures if determined to be needed and funding by the applicant for these measures to be agreed to;
(8) Architectural treatment, finishes, signage and lighting to be of high standard without being unduly over illuminated;
(9) Retention of the transparency of the building from inside and outside by keeping slot machines and furniture away from the windows and keeping the windows uncovered;
(10) Design development to locate a standard dimensioned seawalk and bicycle route through the Plaza of Nations complex by either reducing the size or relocating the guest drop-off in a northerly direction or constructing a new seawalk and bicycle route around the southerly point of the proposed casino, and ensure the route is fully accommodated to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning and the General Manager of Engineering Services;
(11) Design development to locate the guest drop-off outside the central plaza area to maintain the character, function and integrity of thatspace;
(12) Design development of a landscape plan for the whole site area of the casino proposal that includes, among other things, the site edges along Pacific Boulevard South, and along the seawalk and bicycle route, and including these elements for the parking lot to the east of the site, if pursued by the proponents;
(13) Should the proponents pursue a parking lot to the east of the site, design development of a walkway forming an extension from Carrall Street to the shoreline which may travel along the east side of a line extended from the east side of Carrall Street from Pacific Boulevard South to the shoreline; and
(14) Public benefits to the satisfaction of City Council.
Site, Surrounding Zoning and Development: The CD-1 zoned Plaza of Nations site is approximately 1.2 hectares (3 acres). To the north is the BCPED zoned B.C. Place Stadium. To the west is Area 6(a) which is a proposed high-density residential neighbourhood. To the east is Area 6(c) which is indicated in the False Creek North Official Development Plan as a future commercial area with a marina. To the east of Area 6(c) is a park site that is to be developed in conjunction with either Area 6(a) or 6(c). To the south is False Creek.
Preliminary Design Review: There are four major design concerns with the proposal, the impact on the public seawalk and bicycle route, the impact on the character and function of the central plaza area, the extent of the surface parking area and limited site landscaping.
1. Seawalk and Bicycle Route - An important portion of the seawalk and bicycle route that circles False Creek is through the Plaza of Nations. Currently this route passes around the central plaza and between the northerly edge of the proposed casino and Building B (former casino). The proposal locates a guest drop-off in this location. There are two design solutions that can address this concern. First, the guest drop-off could be reduced in size or pulled to the north where there is currently some surface parking. Second, the route could be designed so that it passes around the southerly point of the proposed casino. In both cases the full standard seawalk and bicycle widths should be maintained. The other portion of the seawalk and bicycle route on the easterly side of the Plaza of Nations and beside the proposed parking area also appears to be impacted by the proposal although the presented drawings lack clarity for this area. Again, the full width of the seawalk and bicycle route needs to be accommodated throughout the easterly area of the site.
2. Central Plaza - The central plaza is used for a variety of public and private functions. The design of the guest drop-off between the northerly edge of the proposed casino and Building B intrudes into the central plaza and will negatively impact the character, function and integrity of that space.
3. Surface Parking - The proposed surface parking extends over the area that is proposed for a future public park, Creekside Park. Staff recommends the surface parking should be outside this park area and therefore limited to the easterly alignment of the Carrall Street extension.
4. Landscaping - Apart from some landscaping in the surface parking area proposed to the east of Plaza of Nations, there is little or no landscaping indicated for the Casino site. A fully designed landscape plan needs to be prepared for the whole site area of the Casino proposal. Areas that need landscaping include, among others, the siteedges along Pacific Boulevard South, all the edges of the surface parking, and along the seawalk and bicycle route.
Comments of the General Manager of Engineering Services: In applying to convert most of Building C at the Plaza of Nations to a Class 2 Casino use, there are a number of areas of concern to Engineering Services, described in the following.
1. Parking - The applicant also seeks to develop an extremely large parking lot on adjacent lands to the east, totaling well over 1,200 new parking spaces. This is done without a rationale for these spaces, nor disclosure of what agreements are in place or considered for the use of this parking at various times of the day. Staff are concerned that the provision of such an extent of parking opens the door for unwanted auto commuting in consideration of this location close to the Downtown. It could also delay the implementation of a needed park. A lesser amount of parking, within the range as outlined below, should accommodate typical parking demands expected.
Should the proposed casino be unusually successful, and parking demand exceed expectations, then the operators could pursue further parking provision by entering into agreements to secure spaces within existing nearby parking resources and/or by applying to the City for a development permit to develop parking as a principal use on a temporary basis on a site in the area. There is also an ample supply of evening and weekend parking within walking distance in the downtown.
Meanwhile, the current parking standard in effect for the Plaza of Nations is structured to forgive a large amount of minimum required parking, without any restriction on the maximum parking permissible. Given the current uses approved for the one minor and three major buildings on the site, it has been calculated that well over 1,000 parking spaces are "required", though only 428 spaces must be provided. There is a need for more relevant and realistic parking standards.
After considering several alternative means of assessing parking for the Plaza of Nations, staff conclude that the most straightforward and applicable way of calculating parking would be to set a minimum requirement of one space per 80 square metres gross floor area as the standard for all uses in Buildings A, B, and D, same as for International Village, and a maximum that is 20% above the minimum; this results in a minimum requirement of 212 spaces and a maximum of 254 spaces (see explanatory table at the end of Engineering Services' comments).
For Building C, where the Class 2 Casino (as well as theatre and restaurant) use is proposed, a more customized standard is necessary. The city-wide standards for theatre and restaurant uses serve as suitable maxima at this Downtown edge locale, while the minimum standards should be half of that. The estimated results compriseminima of 42 and 25 spaces for the theatre and restaurant uses, respectively, and maxima of 84 and 50 spaces. For the casino, the floor area-based standard in the Parking By-law for a Class 1 Casino is first increased 25% to account for the inclusion of the more densely packed slot machines, then halved to account for the location in arriving at a minimum requirement estimated at 228 spaces. A maximum of 306 spaces was determined by pro-rating the observed parking demand at the Great Canadian Casino operation the Broadway Holiday Inn per the increase in number of gaming seats. Combining the numbers for all uses in Building C results in a minimum of 295 spaces and a maximum of 440 spaces.
Combining the numbers for all four buildings yields an estimated minimum parking requirement of 507 spaces, and a maximum of 694 spaces permitted. The site includes 287 parking spaces below grade, with approximately 80 spaces on the surface to the west of Building A. On-site surface spaces available east of Building B are expected to be removed, such that an additional 140 spaces, approximately, would be required and up to a further 187 spaces permitted. The additional required parking would fit in the area west of the proposed Carrall Street extension, though it is likely that only a minority of the further 187 spaces could.
2. Pedestrian/Cycling Access and Ferry Dock - The Plaza of Nations has still not provided the services required under the 1999 (hotel) rezoning. Staff have requested the site owners to provide these obligations prior to the November 30, 2004 date noted in the existing Services Agreement, but there has been no reply. The present application must be reviewed with consideration as to whether any of the following items will be required:
a) Shoreline Protection Works - Improvements to the existing seawall walkway.
b) Primary Walkway - Provision of a defined, well lit primary pedestrian route through the site.
c) Primary Bikeway - Provision of a defined, well lit primary bikeway through the site.
d) Alternative Walkway/Bikeway - Provide an alternative walkway/bikeway, which detours around the site via Pacific Boulevard, to be used during Plaza events. On Pacific Boulevard, staff expect that the existing curb be moved north and a wider sidewalk installed to accommodate a 9.0 metre wide walkway/bikeway, separated from traffic. A parking kiosk at the east end of the site is in conflict with the expected route, and would require removal or relocation. Furthermore, along the west edge of the site parking must be removed to eliminate conflicts with pedestrians and cyclists when the alternate route is in use. The route must employ proper standards of design, safety, and furnishing; in all sections of walkway aligned with the bike route a landscaped median of 1.5 metre width would be required.
e) Walkway Around the Site - As noted in the 1998 rezoning report to Council, it is possible to extend the current walkway around the site by constructing a link along the south edge of Building C. While Council then did not require this link, constructing this walkway would eliminate the high level of conflict between users of the Plaza space and the seawall. Furthermore, if this option were implemented, the applicant would not be required to provide a defined path through the site for the primary bikeway or complete modifications to Pacific Boulevard for the alternate walkway/bikeway. And, particularly with the proposal for a front door drop-off for the casino, a walkway around the site at the water's edge would eliminate conflicts between the walkway/bikeway and passengers being served at the porte-cochere.
f) Ferry Dock/Ceremonial Dock - The Owner is required to provide a ferry dock on the west end of the waterlot. As it may be difficult to get Burrard Environmental Review Commission (BERC) approval for a new ferry dock at this location, the applicant will need to work with the owner of the Plaza of Nations site to provide the Ceremonial Dock as the main ferry dock. Staff would require the installation of lighting, litter receptacles, and sheltered benches on the Ceremonial Dock.
3. Special Events - The proposed parking is in direct conflict with the Indy track as well as Indy's vehicle maintenance area. The Indy also uses Building C for its media centre and exhibition. As the City is legally obligated to provide space for Indy for at least another year, clarification is required that casino operations would be suspended or modified during this time. Plans to accommodate other events, such as the Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese New Year, and Cirque du Soleil are also required.
4. Use of Performance Space - Under an existing legal agreement, the Owner is required to provide the outdoor public performance space free to community users three daysper month. Clarification is required that this proposal will continue to provide for this.
5. Vehicle Access and Circulation - Staff are concerned how traffic patterns will be changed and managed, whether additional street or signal infrastructure is required, that movements to, from, and within the site are designed to be safe and efficient, and that the needs of all vehicles, including delivery trucks, charter buses, HandiDarts, and limousines have been accommodated. The consultant must investigate these matters, as well as those below, and advise.
6. Parking, Loading, and Drop-Off Spaces - The applicant must ensure that adequate provisions are made for vehicle parking and passenger loading, and that facilities are adequate for delivery trucks, charter buses, taxis, HandiDarts, and limousines.
7. Transit Service - The consultant should comment on whether transit service will be adequate to serve the site with the proposed new development in operation, especially in light of the suggested opening hours.
8. Pedestrians and Bicyclists - Staff are concerned that pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to access the site safely and conveniently. The applicant must work with staff to determine what improvements to the pedestrian and bicycle network, both on or off the site, are required, and how bicyclists will be accommodated with respect to parking and shower/change facilities.
In view of the many contingencies for the proposed development, particularly in the absence of the required transportation consultant's report, a broadly based prior-to condition is recommended, calling for arrangements to be made for provisions for addressing all issues as outlined above to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning in consultation with the General Manager of Engineering Services.
PLAZA OF NATIONS PARKING SUMMARY
ASSESSABLE AREA (m²)
C - Theatre6
C - Restaurant7
C - Casino-Class 28
Less existing parking: 287± Structure
Comments of the Chief License Inspector: The Chief License Inspector advises that if Casino Class 2 is permitted, the License By-law must be amended to include this use. It is recommended that new Casino Class-1 and Casino Class-2 definitions be inserted into thelicense by-law and corresponding fees be established of $195 for Casino Class-1 and $8,792 for Casino Class-2. These fees are based on the current fee for Casino for a Casino Class-1 and the fee for Horseracing for a Casino Class-2.
Park Board Comments: Park Board staff do not support a parking proposal that would delay the delivery of the extension of Creekside Park.
Environmental Implications: While bus service and Skytrain stations are within walking distance, it is expected that many patrons of the casino will arrive by car, especially those who plan to stay into the late hours. Staff do not support the applicant's proposal for off-site parking to accommodate 1,200 vehicles.
Social Implications: There are negative social implications to this proposal in the form of potential gambling addiction which will also be the case if the slots allocated to Vancouver are re-allocated to nearby municipalities. There are no implications with respect to the Vancouver Children's Policy or Statement of Children's Entitlements.
Council Policy Decisions on Gaming: On January 27, 1987, Council asked the Attorney-General to begin a review of the regulations governing the operation of casinos as soon as possible, and that the City, and other concerned groups and individuals, be given the opportunity to express in detail their concerns and suggestions for improvements. Council also expressed its concern that revisions to casino gambling regulations adhere to basic principles, including that the maximum financial benefits accrue directly to the social service agencies sponsoring the events; and that appropriate, strict controls be in place to discourage or prevent possible negative social consequences, such as compulsive gambling or criminal activity.
On July 26, 1994, Council requested that the Provincial Government ensure that there will be municipal participation in the evaluation of community impacts for any expansion to gaming activity, including video lottery terminals, gaming on First Nations lands and major casinos. Council further requested that gaming legislation or regulations include municipal endorsement of specific gaming locations prior to approval, and that approval of any new gaming activity be conditional on a portion of the revenue being available to local government for mitigation measures.
On November 1, 1994, Council passed a resolution opposing gaming expansion including the introduction of video lottery terminals (VLTs) and, that the City of Vancouver considered gaming expansion a matter of determination by the people of British Columbia through appropriate broad and local involvement in a meaningful consultation program.
On March 25, 1997, Council reiterated its demand to the Provincial Government for a comprehensive Gaming Act before expanded gaming activity goes forward. Council furtheradvised the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Employment and Investment that Vancouver opposed the addition of slot machines as an expanded gaming option.
On October 7, 1997, Council adopted amendments to the Zoning and Development By-law to permit a limited number of charity-operated casinos in certain areas of the city and to prohibit casinos with slot machines. The amendment prohibiting casinos with slot machines was challenged by the B.C. Lottery Corporation and the City successfully defended the By-law in the B.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
In January 1999, the Province introduced the White Paper on Gaming which recommended legislation changes which could have drastically limited historic municipal powers in relation to casinos and other gaming establishments. On March 9, 1999, Council responded to the Provincial White Paper, by reiterating its stand on the preservation of municipal powers on issues surrounding gambling expansion.
On September 12, 2000, Council indicated to the Province, a number of concerns regarding the Gaming Control Act (Bill 30-2000) introduced to the Legislature in July 2000 (later withdrawn). Some of the concerns raised at the time related to commitments made by the Province through the Memorandum of Understanding signed with UBCM in June, 1999.
On March 12, 2002 Council informed the Minister Responsible for Gaming in B.C. that it had serious concerns with Bill 6-2002, the Gaming Control Act, and submitted a staff Report outlining these concerns to the Provincial Government and to the UBCM, as the City of Vancouver's response to the Gaming Control Act.
(Copy of original letter in Social Planning Department)
Operated by Mount Pleasant Starship Community Association (MPSCCA)
2655 Main Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5T 3E7
October 17, 2003
Mr. Larry Beasley,
Director of Current Planning
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
SUBJECT: REZONING APPLICATIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF SLOT
Dear Mr. Beasley:
Further to the introduction of slot machines in the City of Vancouver and the position of MPSCCA/Planet Bingo please note the following.
At a special meeting held October 15, 2003, member organizations of MPSCCA/Planet Bingo ratified, by a vote of 59 to 1, the Management Committee decision to support slot machines in the City of Vancouver subject to the following:
1) Construction of a new and modern bingo facility in conjunction with an amalgamated casino in the downtown area.
2) A commitment from the BC Lottery Corporation to provide new additional electronic games on an updated system within 90 days of the City's decision to approve slot machines.
3) A resolution to the outstanding issue of lost Planet bingo allocations to charities from GPEB.
We have secured a Memorandum of Understanding with the developers of the proposed amalgamated casino that will satisfy our future facility needs. Negotiations on these and other issues continue to our satisfaction. Of importance to our members is a timeline of no late than 2006 for the completion of new facility for Planet Bingo.
We have also been able to secure a letter of intent from the BC Lottery Corporation that has addressed the immediate need for additional bingo options to allow us to remain competitive in a new marketplace that will now include slot machines. Other issues with the BCLC are under discussion.
Discussions with GPEB have produced an understanding that funding reductions for years two and three of the current Certificates of Affiliation will be restored to the previous level of funding in the event of a significant revenue gaming growth to the province of BC.
Based on the above commitments, and the understanding that our interests will continue to be a high priority to the casino operators, the BCLC, the Province of BC and the City of Vancouver, MPSCCA/Planet Bingo supports the rezoning applications at Hastings Racecourse and the interim casino at the Plaza of Nations.
APPLICANT, PROPERTY, AND DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL INFORMATION
APPLICANT AND PROPERTY INFORMATION
750 Pacific Boulevard (Plaza of Nations)
N/A - amendment to CD-1 By-law No. 7592
Mr. Patrick Cotter, Patrick Cotter Architect Inc.
N/A - form of development not under consideration
Canadian Metropolitan Properties Corp.
Royal Diamond Casinos and Grand Casinos
approx. 1.2 ha. (3 ac)
DEVELOPMENT PERMITTED UNDER EXISTING ZONING
various entertainment including Casino - Class 1
to add Casino - Class 2 to permitted uses to accommodate 600 slot machines and 60 gaming tables
floor area limitation on gaming area and required circulation and a maximum of 600 slot machines and 60 gaming tables.
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