Agenda Index City of Vancouver


TO: Standing Committee on Planning and Environment
FROM: Chief License Inspector in consultation
with the Director of Community Planning
SUBJECT: Casino-Class 1 Relocation to 760 Robson Street
Great Canadian Casino Ltd.






Council Policy requires that casino applications be subject to Zoning & Development By-law Guidelines for presite clearance and regulated in a similar manner as liquor license applications which need a neighbourhood notification prior to receiving final consideration.


Great Canadian Casino Ltd., is requesting a Council resolution endorsing the relocation of the Casino-Class 1 from 1133 West Hastings Street to 760 Robson Street.


Great Canadian Casino Ltd., is presently located in the Renaissance Hotel, 1133 West Hastings Street, and plans to move into a new complex presently under construction at 760 Robson Street (806 Howe). At its present location, the Casino-Class 1 conforms to the definition of the Zoning and Development Bylaw.

The new facility will have a patron capacity of 600 and a floor area of 12,679 sq. ft. for the casino on the third floor and 3,400 sq. ft. on the first floor for offices and staff, making a total of 16,079 sq.ft. This conforms to the Casino-Class 1 definition. The hours of operation will be from 12:00 noon to 2:00 a.m.

The applicant has received a letter from the B.C. Gaming Commission indicating the Commission has carried out a preliminary review and is prepared to continue to the next stage of the relocation process when a Council resolution has been received.

The subject premises are located in the DD (Downtown) zoning district and the surrounding area is a mixture of office, retail, restaurant, theatre, arcade, cabaret, lounge, hotel, bowling alley, billiard hall, art gallery, public authority and residential uses (Appendix A). There are two additional casinos located in the downtown core, one at 611 Main Street and the other at the Plaza of Nations. City Council recently endorsed an application for the relocation of the casino at the Plaza of Nations to an adjacent building on the same site.

It is also noted that this proposed location is adjacent to the Theatre Row Entertainment District on Granville Street. The review for Granville Street did not contemplate a casino in this area.


The Police Department is concerned that the location of the casino may not be in the best interest of the local community. Many people in the immediate area are on limited income and some of these citizens may be tempted to try their luck at the casino when the money they have has to last them for weeks. This area is also frequented by a small number of people who make their living through crime.

The number of thefts, robberies and theft from automobiles may well be influenced with the casino in the community. At the present location, which is at the north edge of the downtown core, police have responded to about 110 calls for service. (Because the present casino is located in a hotel, exact figures for calls to the actual casino are not available). Comparatively, officers have attended the 700 block Robson Street 64 times for the same period (January to December 9, 1997). The current location does not have the same street activity as Robson and Granville. Moving patrons, who will clearly be taking cash into the casino at Robson and Granville, increases the potential for them to be targets of opportunity for criminally inclined individuals.

Also, with the number of street kids and the casino's proximity to the Pacific Centre Mall, more panhandling could occur. With Granville Mall/Street opening more entertainment venues and a push to open Granville Mall to vehicle traffic, the area could change drastically.

This area of Robson Street is also part of the Robson Street "strip" which, on weekends and throughout the summer, is very congested with both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Adding more cars and people to a street which is both small and limited in directions of travel will also affect the area.

The Planning Department advises that Development Permit No. DE400922 was issued on October 24, 1997, thereby permitting the construction of a 10-storey mixed use retail/residential building containing 89 dwelling units with three levels of underground parking.

The subject site is located within the Downtown (DD) Zoning District. Casino-Class 1 is listed as a conditional approval use in the DD Official Development Plan. Any proposal to provide a Casino-Class 1 would require a Development Application.

As part of the review process, staff would include an assessment of the anticipated impacts on nearby sites, particularly the residential units located in the same building. Also, an application of this type would be reviewed in accordance with the provisions of the Casino-Class 1 Guidelines adopted by City Council.

Planning staff note that in accordance with Section 2 Retail Continuity of the DD Official Development Plan, Robson Street would require continuous ground floor retail-commercial and service uses, and Howe Street would require some ground floor retail, retail-commercial and service uses. However, entry at the ground floor to the casino would be supported. Staff further notes that it would be important to maintain window transparency into the third floor as approved under Development Permit No. DE400922.

The Central Area Planning Project Group has no comments on the application.

The Environmental Health Division of the Health Board has no objection.

The Social Planning Department is opposed to the application as a casino in a mixed use commercial/residential building may negatively impact on residents.

The Housing Department has no comments.


Noting the concerns of the Police Department and Social Planning Department, staff is putting forward this application by Great Canadian Casino Ltd., to relocate the Casino-Class 1 to 760 Robson Street, for consideration. The response to the neighbourhood notification, which will provide Council with information on any additional concerns of the area residents and business operators, will be reported at the Standing Committee.

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