Concerns are being raised over plans to move the Camrose Casino to the south side of Edmonton.
Not only do some people feel blindsided by the proposal and application with little time to dispute it, but there are also worries that local charities will lose millions.
It’s an empty field now along 420 Parsons Road, but there are plans in place to turn the lot between South Edmonton Common and Ellerslie Road into a 16,000-square-foot casino with a 120-room hotel — and that plan is raising some alarm bells.
Neil Richards has lived in the nearby Summerside neighbourhood for 20 years. He worries about what a casino will mean for traffic on the narrow, two-lane Parsons Road, which is already quite busy each day with commuter volume.
“It’s a nightmare with the traffic as it is,” Richards said.
His biggest concern, however, lies in the fact that he’s just finding out about the plan now.
“Nobody was told anything about this that I’m aware of, I know I wasn’t and anybody I’ve been in contact with said they never heard of such a thing.
“It’s like it was trying to be put in under the radar.”
Capital City Casinos, the company that summited the application to Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) to relocate the casino, did follow the requirements to let the public know.
It posted a notice in a paper on July 29. The deadline to submit objections is Aug. 10.
It’s all a last-minute push from groups hoping the house doesn’t always win.
“We should have a fair say, and the majority should have some input on what goes on here,” Richards said.
Concerns aren’t just over traffic.
Evelyn Humphries, an advisor to casino charities, estimates Edmonton-area charities will lose at least $6.7 million with the move. The new casino would still have a rural license, which means Edmonton charities couldn’t operate there.
According to AGLC, “the proposed relocation would continue to serve the same rural charities that it does today.”
“It’s not giving anybody much time to object to it,” Humphrey said.
“You’re going to have people coming from Edmonton to play in this and then the money is going to go out to Camrose, and I think that’s unfair.”
In a statement to Global News, AGLC said the application is in the second of a three-step process.
“(It’s) taking into consideration community and stakeholder input, market demand, benefits to charitable groups and impact on other charitable gaming activities in the community,” AGLC stated.
Ward Karhiio Coun. Keren Tang said she was caught off guard by the project.
“I am very concerned myself and plan on writing a letter conveying this feedback to the board of AGLC,” Tang said.
AGLC said a decision is expected on the application later this year. If approved, the casino hopes to relocate by fall of 2024.
Objections to this project can be mailed or emailed to AGLC by August 10.