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Casino move gets green light

Against the wishes of city staff and a lone councillor, Kamloops will be getting a new, stand-alone casino.

Council voted 7-1 during a public hearing Tuesday to grant Gateway Casino's OCP and rezoning application for a new, stand alone building in the former Rona location on Versatile Drive.

The company's current Lake City Casino is located downtown inside the Hotel 540.

Staff did not support the application due in part to the fact both KAMPLAN and the City Centre Plan encourage cultural, entertainment, performing arts, convention and restaurant facilities within the city centre.

Council, with the exception of Councillor Donovan Cavers, disagreed.

Cavers described the new, 60,000 square foot, stand alone facility as a Walmart approach which he doesn't see as beneficial to the community as a whole.

"It's an 'all under the same roof' type approach contrary to the mom and pop model of business," says Cavers.

"I think there is a stronger likelihood that funding that goes into the facility won't recirculate as much in the community as it would with a small business that owned and employs all local people."

Casino operators must still go through the process of obtaining a development permit so, while the final plans are not complete, company officials expect the finished product to include a new, vibrant gaming facility along with up to four different styles of restaurants.

Cavers says that model bothered him.

"Downtown businesses have more of a collaborative approach to business that I think is a lot more beneficial to their customers and to all the businesses as a whole."

Gateway Casinos director of public relations, Tanya Gabara, says the company is pleased with the decision of council and will now work toward getting a development permit.

If all goes well, Gabara expects renovations to the existing building to begin in October with completion expected in about 12 months.



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