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Chances Playtime patio plan approved by city council, despite BC Housing concerns

COURTENAY, B.C- The Comox Valley’s casino is getting a patio.

On Monday, Courtenay’s city council approved a development permit for a patio expansion to the Chances Playtime casino, which will be adding on to the existing building as part of the addition of a Match Public House and Eatery.

The expansion would seat 111 people, and include a space for a live band inside the new restaurant. The patio would be seasonal, and be open from 11 a.m. till midnight seven days a week.

The development permit for the space came before council after a process of public consultation, which gathered feedback from nearby properties.

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One of the adjacent property owners, BC Housing, expressed concerns about noise from the patio and increased traffic impacting residents, which resulted in changes being made to the design in January. A letter from March that was attached to the latest council agenda held additional details about those concerns.

Speakers were removed that were facing the Washington Apartments, and increasing the thickness of glazing around the patio.

A letter outlining BC Housing’s concerns attached to the council agenda on March 19, 2018.

“From a physical design perspective, staff feels that the applicant has alleviated some noise concerns for adjacent residences through physical design changes to the patio,” read city documents explaining the changes.

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“From (a) land compatibility perceptive, staff believes that the expected noise levels from the patio addition will remain a concern among adjacent residential users, particularly those residents occupying the Washington Apartments. This is not limited to but includes noise stemming from patrons leaving the patio after hours and the potential increases in both pedestrian and vehicular traffic associated with the development.”

During council’s discussion of the item on Monday, two staff members from BC Housing were present. After the development permit was approved by council, a male staff member expressed frustration outside city hall to representatives of Chances who had come to watch the council proceedings.

A male BC Housing staffer confronts Chances Casino representatives, including regional manager Kent Hockley on right, outside the offices of Courtenay City Hall on March 19, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Both declined to comment on the outcome of the council decision. Wes Zacharias, who the staffers directed 98.9 The Goat towards for comment, has not responded to any requests as of this publication.

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After the meeting, Mayor Larry Jangula indicated that “for some people” city decisions are never fair.

“That’s the trouble with politics, almost every decision you make is going to make someone happy, and someone else unhappy,” said Jangula.

“So for the casino people, they probably felt that was a pretty fair proposition. For the people that are next door, they’re probably feeling it wasn’t very fair.”

Kent Hockley, who is the regional manager for both Chances casinos in Courtenay and Campbell River, said he was excited to be “one step closer” to bringing in the Match restaurant brand to the Valley. Renovations at the site have been ongoing since October.

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As for the noise concerns, he felt as though the issue had been resolved through the changes made to the patio design, though he did agree with BC Housing that there were challenges from the casino’s location.

“Since we’re so tucked away, there is no real clear signage on Ryan Road, which we would like to have addressed,” said Hockley.

“That would cut down on the amount of traffic using that other entranceway.”

He also said there were no intentions to have bands perform on the patio, and that the casino would be reaching out to BC Housing to work on additional noise concerns.

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“I know that one of the concerns that they had was when it came to our grates, and we’re looking at installing some rubber cushions so that the storm grates don’t make such a clank when you drive over it,” said Hockley.

“We’re going to work on every aspect to be a good neighbour.”

According to Hockley, the casino contributed around $1.4 million to local government funds over the past year, and 50 additional jobs are expected to come to the casino from increased staffing needs at the new restaurant.

“We want to be known as an entertainment facility,” said Hockley.

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“That is our goal, to be a place where somebody can come and watch some local live entertainment, and enjoy some great food and some great company.”

The casino still needs to secure a liquor license for the patio, which will rest in the hands of the Provincial Liquor Control and Licencing Branch. City council will also provide input to the liquor board on the matter.

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