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Decision to pull slots not Surrey's

It will be up to BCLC to say whether slot machines at this facility stay or go. - File
It will be up to BCLC to say whether slot machines at this facility stay or go.
— image credit: File

The Newton slots may be here to stay, as the provincial lottery corporation believes the developer has continued in "good faith" to finish the work.

Last Monday (March 10), Surrey council asked that staff report back on March 31 addressing "the removal of the temporary slot machines at Newton Bingo Hall" at 7093 King George Blvd.

The request is based on the notion that Gateway Casinos and Entertainment has not met a deadline under its Project Development Agreement (PDA), and therefore is in breach of its conditions to have slots at the bingo hall.

Two fairly large hiccups remain in Surrey's plan to have the slots unplugged.

First, Gateway hasn't blown its deadlines.

A PDA obtained by The Leader indicates that Gateway must obtain a building permit from the City of Surrey and begin construction by May 1, 2013.

In a March 10, 2014 memo to council, the General Manager of Planning and Development Jean LaMontagne states Gateway has applied for permits and some have been issued.

The memo obtained by The Leader also states that demolition has been completed on two buildings.

"… but no construction has taken place on the Newton site," the memo concludes.

Gateway spokesperson Tanya Gabara says Gateway's position is the demolition constitutes the beginning of the work and that the firm is proceeding as quickly as practical.

The PDA also indicates Gateway must "proceed with construction in a timely manner through to completion no later than June 1, 2014."

The latter date is months away.

Perhaps the bigger problem for Surrey is it has no authority granted within the PDA to pull the slot machines from Newton.

The city is not a signatory on the PDA and remains at the will of the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) to extract the one-armed bandits.

The city has sway, but no final say.

A BCLC spokesperson said Friday that it's not felt that Gateway is in breach of its agreement.

"BCLC believes Gateway has been working on the project in good faith," the spokesperson said in an email. "The City has approved development permits for two of the buildings on the site. However, the City has yet to approve the development permit for the community gaming centre building, which Gateway applied for in the fall of 2013."

Surrey will have a role in determining the continuation of the slot machines, but the final call will be that of BCLC.

Surrey staff are expected to report back to council on March 31.

@diakiw

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