Hotel company eyes major Terrace, B.C. project

Development hinges on adding slots to Chances operation

The company that owns the Chances gaming centre here has set its sights on moving it to a new location where it would be combined with an executive-level hotel and conference centre.

The location could either be in Thornhill or in Terrace, said Pomeroy Lodging vice president Jackie Clayton.

To date, within Terrace, Pomeroy has been looking at land along Keith Ave. west of Kenney which was once part of the Skeena Cellulose/Terrace Lumber Company complex.

A portion of that property is owned by the city.

“There is real need for an executive hotel in Terrace,” said Clayton last week from Alberta.

But the multi-stage plan, which would be similar to a convention centre, hotel and casino complex owned by Pomeroy in Fort St. John, hinges on first expanding the number of slot machines at the current location, a move already turned down in 2012 by the city council of the day.

“If council were to approve our growth then we would take the grown facility and grow it even more in a new location with convention centre and hotel,” said Clayton.

Pomeroy has also been looking at locations in Kitimat.

Clayton and other Pomeroy representatives held a meet-and-greet this summer at the Bavarian Inn, attended by city officials from both Terrace and Kitimat and they are planning a second later this month.

The city recently committed to doing an environmental assessment of three properties west of Kenney and along Keith which is the same area Pomeroy has been investigating.

Although the company has also been looking in Thornhill, Clayton said current infrastructure restrictions such as a limited sewer system pose a problem.

Pomeroy will be submitting a proposal to council some time this fall to increase the number of slot machines and other existing games at Chances, she said.

The company has yet to figure out how many new ones it wants, Clayton added.

Municipalities gain from a portion of gaming revenue, and must approve slot and bingo expansion. When the previous owners of Chances applied in 2012, the Terrace council defeated the request with a 4-3 vote.

Lynne Christiansen, James Cordeiro and Stacey Tyers, who were on council then and are on council today, voted against the expansion along with Bruce Bidgood who is no longer on council.

Brian Downie, who was on council then and who is on council today, voted in favour along with former-mayor Dave Pernarowski and former councillor Marylin Davies supporting increased slot machines.

If councillors vote the same, that sets three against and one for the proposal, with votes still to be made by Michael Prevost, Sean Bujtas and mayor Carol Leclerc as the new council members.

Pomeroy purchased Chances in 2014, and plans to take up where the previous owner left off in terms of trying to convince Terrace council to allow more gaming units to be installed at the current facility, said Clayton.

Carol Leclerc said she wants to see the application before making up her mind.

“You have to keep an open mind about these things, so we will see what they bring to the table,” said Leclerc.

“Let’s not get the cart before the horse.”

Prevost, elected just last November, said he would use his healthcare provider experience in examining any application.

“As a healthcare provider, I know that we have vulnerable populations in our community, that do have challenges around addiction and gambling, so I think it is important to take that into consideration and ask the questions necessary to see whether or not it’s right for the community,” he said.

“In terms of our taxation, the city and the community does benefit from the taxes and support generated by BC Lottery,” Prevost added.

Bujtas, also elected for the first time last fall, works at Chances and would likely not vote because of a conflict of interest.

Leclerc did say she’s wanted to see a convention centre built for some time but could not say whether the potential for one would sway her decision.

Currently Terrace’s Chances has 75 slot machines and 140 bingo seats contained within 4,500 square feet.