STAHN: Casino relocation shows the power we hold

Let’s not fool ourselves about who holds the power when it comes to politics, especially at the municipal level. The casino debate at City Hall recently makes clear it's not city staff, it's not city councillors but you—the vocal voting public—who has the power.

On Tuesday, I watched a procession of nearly 30 people take to the podium to (mostly) lend support to the proposed casino relocation. Between the letters previously sent to council and those in attendance Tuesday I lost track of the number of people who wagged their fingers at city staff for recommending council turn down the application.

Of course, that anger was misdirected. The staff recommendation was based on what councillors already told them—make the city centre a key focus. Moving the casino out of the city centre doesn't meet that objective. Staff had further justification because casinos don't—and shouldn't—typically share the same zoning designation as retail outlets which is where the casino wanted to move to.

We asked for all of that and councillors gave city staff those marching orders. But ultimately, councillors make the decisions based on what we, the voters, have to say. And if it makes sense despite everyone's best efforts at planning, then, well, it just makes sense.

A couple hundred people packed a room to speak in favour of a project. Those voices were heard. Council acknowledged it and they approved the application.

So instead of just complaining and pointing fingers next time, speak up. Council can only listen to the voices willing to be heard.

To contact a reporter, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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