The proposed $70 million casino and entertainment complex in Delta, British Columbia, is yet to be officially approved by the province and the City Council. However, it has already met opposition from the local community due to social and economic concerns, some of which expressed by the Semiahmoo First Nation who now warns to take action against the project.
According to the Semiahmoo tribe, a small group of indigenous people occupying an Indian Reserve in the Lower Mainland, British Columbia, the proposed casino falls within their traditional territory. In a letter, the tribe’s legal counsel says that the Semiahmoo people must protect their aboriginal rights and title from infringement by British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and the Province. The First Nation claims that it had met with BCLC representatives who refused to consult the tribe regarding the construction of a new gaming facility in Delta. The gambling agency has, therefore, forced the Semiahmoo to take action against the project, the Indian band adds.
The tribe has previously expressed its opposition to the new casino, which if approved, would be located on an 11-acre parcel of land on the site of the Delta Town & Country Inn. The project also includes a hotel and restaurants, as well as an investment of $70 million from its developer, the Canadian gambling company Gateway Casinos and Entertainment. According to Gateway’s proposal, the new complex featuring up to 600 slot machines and around 24 gaming tables would require the demolition of the existing Delta Town & Country Inn. The new casino is part of last year’s decision to relocate the Newton Community Gaming Centre in Surrey to the village of Ladner in Delta.
The casino proposal will be reviewed at a public hearing scheduled for May 1 at the Ladner Community Centre. City Council will then meet for a third reading of the project and will discuss all public comments. If the proposal passes third reading, the BCLC and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will need to review the application. In case they approve it, it would return to Delta City Council for adoption.
Will the Semiahmoo First Nation Be Affected by Gateway’s Proposed Casino?
In its letter, the Semiahmoo tribe suggests that the proposed gambling facility would be built on or in close proximity to its tribal land. Before developing such a facility, the BCLC and the local governments are required according to the Gaming Control Act and the Gaming Control Regulation to consult all potentially affected communities and governments. These include all municipalities, First Nations, and regional districts that have land or authority over the use of land in a five-kilometre zone around the proposed gambling facility.
However, the Semiahmoo Indian Reserve, where the band’s community and offices are located, is far from that five-kilometre zone as it is between the City of White Rock and the Canada-United States boundary. The Semiahmoo is, indeed, nowhere near the village of Ladner, which would be home to Gateway’s proposed casino complex. The City of Delta says that the only municipality that lies within that zone is Richmond, but all the lands of Surrey, the Tsawwassen First Nation and the Musqueam Indian Band are also located more than 5 kilometres away from the proposed gambling facility.
A recent Delta city staff report points out that even though the City of Delta is not required to consult or inform these three communities, it has sent Gateway’s application to them. The Tsawwassen First Nation was the only one to respond, saying it would like to take part in discussions regarding the potential social and public health impact from the casino. So far, the Semiahmoo has not explained what actions it would take or whether it would challenge the casino project in court.