12/11/2012 10:25 EST | Updated 02/10/2013 05:12 EST

Surrey Casino Project To Get Public Hearing


Surrey city council has decided to hold a public hearing next month on a controversial casino proposal, after hundreds of supporters and detractors packed a council meeting last night.

Those who turned out at city hall on Monday night weren't allowed to speak, so many wore buttons decrying the proposed casino or stickers touting the hundreds of jobs it would provide.

If approved, the new development near Highway 99 and 168th Street would be run by Gateway and would feature a conference centre, an 800-seat theatre, a four-star hotel, and 600 slot machines, plus gaming tables.

Opponents of the casino like Dale Michaud say they're worried the casino will attract crime and too much traffic.

"There's a 2006 RCMP internal report that said crime around the River Rock casino quadrupled," says Michaud.

But Gateway spokeswoman Tanya Gabara says city reports and support from local business groups have shown those concerns are being addressed.

"Crime just hasn't become a problem for the communities that have facilities such as this right now."

A staff report notes the RCMP is not worried about crime with the proposed casino, based on what officers handle at the Fraser Downs facility.

Mayor Dianne Watts says council will be keeping an open mind heading into the Jan. 14 public hearing.

"It's coming at it from a very balanced perspective, getting all of the information so we can a really make an informed decision. So this isn't a done deal by any stretch. Absolutely not."

In 2011 Vancouver city council rejected a provincial proposal to build the largest casino in Western Canada in the city's downtown next to BC Place

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