The Town Centre Business Association is going on the offensive prior to the rezoning application for the proposed relocation of Casino Hollywood.
It accuses the city of a lack of full disclosure in the tendering process that resulted in the conditional sale of the Pine Valley driving range land to casino owner John Major.
The TCBA sent a letter to the city in November outlining what it says are “serious concerns and objections to the manner in which this sale is being conducted.”
The city contends it followed procedure and that the TCBA appears to be somewhat misinformed. It replied in a letter later that month, addressing each of the TCBA’s concerns.
But the TCBA was not satisfied. And now it is suggesting the whole process should be scrapped and re-tendered.
The group, which represents downtown businesses, admits it would have preferred to see the casino remain downtown, said vice-president Bruce High.
“But also, it doesn’t feel good as a business deal,” he said. “And as a group that acts as a watchdog we feel there’s so much wrong with this tender that it should be re-done.”
Among the group’s concerns are the contention that the casino will not meet the requirement of a traffic flow less than 150 vehicles per hour; that traffic patterns at the Highway 16 and Range Road. intersection will be changed; that the development will exceed the allowable floor space; and that the construction of a proposed casino/ hotel in that location goes against the city’s Official Community Plan.
The city disagrees with the TCBA’s arguments on every point, according to Dan Milburn, manager of current planning.
A traffic impact study has been completed. Although he had not seen it yet, Milburn said that, if it shows a traffic flow above 150 vehicles, staff would note that it does not meet the tender requirements in its report to council.
As for the size limits on the building, Milburn said the TCBA seems to have misread the current zoning for the site.
It does prohibit any commercial retail space from exceeding 20,000 square feet, as the TCBA says. But, said Milburn, the proposed development is not retail and the allowable floor space for the casino/hotel could be up to 30 per cent of the seven acre site.
Any changes to traffic patterns created by the development must be agreed to by the Ministry of Highways and must be paid for by the developer, according to the city’s reply to the TCBA.
And, as far as the fact that the development runs contrary to the current OCP, Milburn pointed out that the sale is subject to a zoning amendment, as well as council approval for a change to the OCP.
“The tender did not preclude the possibility of rezoning” or of an OCP change, he said.
It will be up to city council, through the rezoning process, to decide if it is willing to rewrite the OCP. If it rejects the move, the sale is dead, said Milburn.
First and second readings of the rezoning application and the OCP designation will come before council on February 17. If it passes that stage, it goes to public hearing and third reading.
Staff has the ability to recommend a greater level of public input than the standard single hearing in council chambers.
Milburn said they will almost certainly recommend an extensive information and public input process in this case.