A majority of residents whose property backs onto John Major’s proposed casino development support the project.
About 60 residents of the Van Bien neighbourhood emerged from a meeting earlier this week in two distinct camps: those who support the deal and those who remain opposed to it.
But Richard Duval, who has been appointed spokesperson for the group supporting the deal, said those whom it will affect most appear to be largely supportive.
“My sense was there were a few, not many, who were opposed to it, but my sense is also that they are not representative of the whole community,” he said.
Of about 25 people who firmly support Major’s plans to build a destination casino and hotel at the intersection of Highways 16 and 97, “it’s important to note a good proportion of them own properties that back onto the greenbelt,” he said.
He estimates 11 or 12 of the 16 property owners along the north side of Aitken Cr. support the deal, with a number of others in adjoining streets also on side.
What Duval terms “active support” will only become “official support,” however, when Major has signed, sealed and delivered a binding agreement committing to everything he and the residents have negotiated over the last month.
“We do want a legal agreement, we think that would be prudent,” said Duval.
Major met with residents at an open meeting shortly after he made an offer to purchase the land behind the tourist information centre at the junction of the two highways.
He responded to concerns raised at that meeting with a number of promised concessions, including keeping a 100-foot greenbelt between the back of his property and Aitken Cr. residents, adding a 25-foot wide earthen sound barrier with security fence, and accepting a number of limitations to what kinds of businesses will be allowed on the site.
He even went so far as to purchase another piece of land without the intention of developing in order to calm residents fears of a strip mall coming in next door.
Other than a few points of clarification, Duval suggested his group would be ready to sign an agreement very soon.