My Two Bits

A tongue-in cheek take

By V Adams

I’m pleased to see that Mayor Helps, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA), and the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) are all on the same page when it comes to promoting Victoria’s “Economic Development and Prosperity” plan.

Interesting to hear that Victoria was short-listed by the BC Lottery Commission (BCLC) as a possible host community for a second casino or gaming facility in the Capital Region. In response to a recent media inquiry, I understand that Mayor Helps stated that James Bay might be a good location.

So, where’s the best spot to put such a thriving business opportunity?

Since the JBNA has already given its blessing to GVHA’s Master Plan for the Development of Ogden Point, there should be no problem with the Mayor adding a waterfront casino to the mix. Isn’t this a shining example of a sustainable revenue-generating amenity that will attract tourists and locals alike?

GVHA’s proposal to build a new cruise ship passenger terminal, a hotel, a maritime display, and retail space, together with parking, improved traffic flow, and transportation services to and from the site, now all makes sense.

Mayor Helps can certainly demonstrate the value of a casino being built on GVHA’s property at Ogden Point. After all, isn’t the casino a vital contribution to the “sharing economy”? What a great way to share the income and expenses associated with operating a casino among GVHA’s many stakeholders: City of Victoria, the Capital Regional District, Esquimalt First Nation, Songhees First Nation, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Victoria and the Township of Esquimalt.

The Times Colonist reported that BCLC’s estimated potential revenue from the new facility may be between $30 million to $45 million annually, with the host community receiving 10 per cent of the net take, or about $1.8 million to $2.5 million annually. If the City of Victoria is lucky, it might be able to garner one third of the net take, possibly $500,000 to $800,000 annually.

Regretfully, this might not be as lucrative as the City had hoped. Taxpayers will still be on the hook for more than $100 million in costs for the new Blue Bridge, not to mention the recent $8 million it paid the Province of BC to acquire the Tourism Victoria Office and commercial complex on Wharf Street.

What else can the City do to increase revenue and keep some disgruntled James Bay folks happy?

When the federal government legalizes the recreational use of marijuana next year, maybe the City can add a “Public Pot Shop” to the retail offerings at the new “World Class”, green energy-efficient Ogden Point Entertainment Centre & Cruise Ship Terminal. That might add a few more dollars to City coffers and contribute what some might say is another wildly popular cultural amenity to the community!