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MARATHON MEETING: Huge turnout expected for Surrey casino hearing
It's expected to be one of the longest nights Surrey council has seen in recent memory.
City staff are "guesstimating" that on Monday, Jan. 14, there will be will be upwards of 1,000 people packing city hall for a decision about a South Surrey casino application.
Further, it's estimated that 100 to 150 of those people will want to address council.
If that many people take their full five-minute time limit for speaking, the casino hearing will last in excess of 12 hours.
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts told The Leader last week she plans to carry the meeting through to the end rather than interrupt the process and continue it on a subsequent night. Watts said that's out of respect for the people who come to share their thoughts.
It will be up to council whether to vote on the project immediately following speakers' comments.
The wide-spread attention is regarding a plan to build a $100-million casino and entertainment complex on an 18-acre parcel of land at 10 Avenue and 168 Street.
As a host city, Surrey stands to reap about $3 million annually in casino revenues.
If approved, the slots at the existing casino in Newton at 7093 King George Blvd. will be shut down. Whether the bingo hall at that location stays or goes would be completely up to Gateway Casinos, which will be responsible for an upgrade of the Newton site no matter what council decides on Monday, according to Surrey's General Manager of Planning and Development Jean LaMontagne.
Meanwhile, all eyes are now on the South Surrey casino. To go ahead it needs the blessing of the B.C. Lottery Corporation, which is looking for a nod from Surrey council.
The public hearing is scheduled to start at 7 p.m., however, there are five other items on the council agenda prior to the casino. That means the casino application won't likely be heard until 8 or 8:30 p.m.
It's anyone's guess how early into the morning the meeting will go.
Some tips for people who are planning to attend:
• Speakers must sign up, and the tables for registering will be open at 5:30 p.m. (Hint: if you want to speak early, get there early).
• Speakers in favour will line up on one side of council chambers; those opposed on the other. The mayor will alternate hearing comments between pro and con.
• Speakers will be limited to five minutes and are asked to keep it shorter if possible.
• Council chambers will open at 7 p.m. and there's only seating for about 140 in chambers. To get a seat, arrive early.
• The city is asking that once you have spoken, leave the council chambers. Several viewing areas will be set up outside.
• People not wanting to speak but who would like to register their opinion can do so by registering at the tables prior to the meeting.
• Anyone not wanting to brave the crowd can watch the meeting on Shaw TV or by linking to the city's livestreaming of the proceedings online at http://www.surrey.ca/city-government/6993.aspx.
For further information regarding the above procedures, contact the City Clerk’s Office at 604-591-4132.