Paragon Pitches New Downtown Casino

The developer behind a failed bid to build a massive casino complex in downtown Vancouver has returned with a new proposal for a multimillion-dollar urban resort project near BC Place.

Paragon Development Ltd presented its plans at an open house on Tuesday night, the first public consultation since the company's plan for the largest casino in Western Canada was rejected by Vancouver city council in 2011.

The new development at 39 Smithe Street will start next to BC Place and stretch all the way to the Cambie Street Bridge. Paragon, which already owns Edgewater Casino on the edge of False Creek, says the new site will hold the relocated casino,  as well as hotels and restaurants.

Paragon Vancouver casino

Paragon Development Ltd. has submitted a development application to the City of Vancouver for two hotels, a conference space, restaurants and lounges, gym and spa, and the relocation of the Edgewater Casino. (Paragon Development Ltd.)

John Cahill, Paragon's vice-president of planning, said the area, sometimes known as Site 10a, is in transition.

"I think a new neighbourhood is going to emerge out of it that is going to be very exciting," he said.

"We are moving forward now with a casino component that is 600 slots and 75 slots just like at the Edgewater."

But there are residents who aren't ready for a new neighbourhood, especially if it includes a casino. 

Andrea Karr says the Northeast False Creek area may be downtown, but it is still very community-oriented.

"I am just concerned about the type of activity the casino would bring to an area that is essentially a residential community," she said.

Ron Van Dereerden is concerned about how the development will affect pedestrians and cyclists.

Paragon Site 10a - 39 Smithe Street, Vancouver

The site of the new proposed casino and hotel complex is adjacent to BC Place Stadium, at 39 Smithe Street, which is also referred to as "Site 10a" by Paragon. (City of Vancouver)

"The stadium is already a blockage for pedestrian movement and that development seems to be expanding that blockage," he said.

On Wednesday, Public Health Officer Perry Kendall is set to issue a report on the public health effects of gambling.

Kendall is expected to discuss the balance between the revenues casinos bring in for public health and issues around addiction.

Cahill says Paragon is proud to deliver gaming in a responsible way.

"We work very closely with Vancouver Police department and regulatory bodies."

City council has already approved a new casino with the same number of slots as Edgewater, but the project still needs a development permit, which is expected to be issued at the end of the year. CBC News, Richard Zussman