Semiahmoo First Nation band councillor Joanne Charles.

Semiahmoo band hasn’t proposed casino but willing to talk

Band councillor points out advantages of reserve site, need for infrastructure

A Semiahmoo reserve casino would have the same advantages of proximity to Highway 99 and the U.S. border as one now proposed nearby in South Surrey.

It would also be closer to an existing transit route and the White Rock restaurants and shops, according to Semiahmoo band councillor Joanne Charles.

“It would be separate from a residential area,” she said, adding it also wouldn’t mean development of land previously zoned for agriculture.

“We have a direct access right off of the highway.”

Charles stressed her band has not proposed a casino but did tell Surrey council some time ago that it wanted to build a hotel/convention centre.

“Interestingly, it’s coincidental that shortly after that discussion [developer] Bob Cheema showed up with his proposal before [Surrey] council.”

Asked if a gambling component had been considered internally by the band, Charles said it’s “always something the band is open to considering.”

She said a major development on band land, with or without a casino, could help the Semiahmoo fix their inadequate infrastructure – many residents have failing septic systems with no sewer hookup and unsafe well water.

“We’ve been on a full boil water advisory since 2005,” Charles said.

The City of Surrey will collect an estimated $3.1 million more each year in shared gambling profits if the Gateway casino is built.

It would be visible from Semiahmoo reserve land, Charles noted.

She said the band would be even closer neighbours to the 10 Avenue property had portions of the reserve not been carved off by government years ago to build the nearby Highway 99 interchange and Peace Arch park.

A letter from Charles, read out at a Wednesday public forum staged by casino opponents, said the Semiahmoo First Nation “cannot make comment at this time whether the SFN is in support or against the casino.”The letter said the SFN will require “full, meaningful consulation.”

Asked to comment on the potential for a casino on Semiahmoo reserve land instead, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin said it would still generate strong opposition from local residents.

“There’s not a great deal of difference,” he said. “It brings the positives closer to us and it also brings the negatives closer to us as well. On balance it’s hard to say which is better.”

Baldwin recalled that there were discussions several years ago – when he was city administrator – of the reserve potentially hosting a casino.

“The big benefit for Semiahmoo First Nation is that if the casino did go on their property it would mean a lot of infrastructure work and that is something they are in great need of.”

Baldwin noted it can be more complex to reach agreement on major development on Semiahmoo land than on other reserves — where a band council vote is final – because each family has a licence to the land they live on.

 

See related story: South Surrey a ‘prime’ site for aboriginal casino

Just Posted

Reported gunfire in Surrey Friday night

Surrey RCMP were on scene in Newton

Russell Bidesi found guilty of second-degree murder in Surrey shooting

Bidesi was charged with shooting 28-year-old Bradley McPherson in 2011

Freezing temperatures expected in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning ends, but surge or icy air to continue

Surrey schools saw doubling of international students from 2010 to 2017

‘We have one of the largest elementary fee-paying programs in B.C. and Canada and it continues to grow.’

VIDEO: New Pattullo Bridge expected to open in 2023

Surrey Board of Trade urges province to make the new crossing six lanes, not four

VIDEO: Major construction projects in White Rock

Parkade development now underway on waterfront

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Update: Multiple vehicle incident closes eastbound Okanagan Connector

Highway 97C is closed to eastbound traffic near Pennask Summit following an incident Sunday afternon

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Liberals to dig deeper, aim higher on gender equality in 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget would include measures to boost women in the workforce

Late-winter snow storm blankets Lower Mainland

Some areas got up to half a foot of snow

Body of missing skier found

Man’s truck found in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s parking lot covered in ‘several days’ snow’

Most Read