"The artists may have turned on the lights, but nobody likes what they see," said Alliance for Arts and Culture executive director Amir Ali Alibhai in response to PavCo chairman David Podmore's accusation that arts organizations are behind the public opposition to the Edgwater Casino expansion.
"Mr. Podmore tells us that we are uninformed," said Mr. Alibhai, "but it is he and his business associates who have kept us uniniformed, and now they are resorting to damning us with unsubstantiated inuendos."
There is much information that has not been forthcoming, and citizens are now starting to ask the relevant questions," according to Mr. Alibhai.
"Where is the business plan? What is Paragon's experience with projects of this scope? Who is on the hook if this project fails? And how much of the revenue from this casino will come from the at least four percent of the poplulation that BCLC acknowledge are problem gamblers?
"How will this expansion 'enliven' adjacent neighbourhoods when everything in the plans is designed to pull people and money away from local businesses and into the casino and its properties?
"We agree with casino expansion opponent Peter Ladner that we need to see the business case, not just economic projections based on unexplained new levels of gambling and tourism," continued Mr. Alibhai.
"And above all, why should people trust this project when the promises of its predecessors have all been broken? Where are the new bingo hall, more support for arts and charities, the $10 to $12 milliion in revenues to the city? asked Mr. Alibhai.
"There are many, many unanswered questions and only through an open process of public consultation can those questions be answered," concluded Mr. Alibhai. "The arts community is proud to have been part of the grassroots movement to draw attention to these unanswered questions, and we will continue to stand with the neighbourhoods, communities and individual citizens who will be most affected by this expansion in demanding that no further irreversable decisions are made by any level of government until we have those answers."
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