View Royal loses big with continued closure of casino
VICTORIA -- When the capital region’s only casino closed in March due to the pandemic, the Town of View Royal lost a major source of revenue.
Continued COVID-19 restrictions have forced all B.C. casinos to remain closed for more than three months. View Royal’s mayor says the loss of income for the West Shore community has been significant.
“It’s about $1 million per quarter, so it’s fair to say that overall it’s down about $1 million,” said View Royal mayor David Screech. “Likely it’s going to be down considerably more before it gets back up and running.”
Screech is quick to point out that proceeds from the casino are not used for the municipality’s operating costs and there will be no impact to property taxes. With funding from gaming cut off, there will be an effect on the town’s capital projects.
Funding of the municipality’s share of the West Shore Parks and Recreation budget will now have to come form elsewhere in the town’s coffers. The loss of gaming proceeds will also mean the View Royal Fire Department may have to delay the replacement of a fire truck to a later date.
“It’s not going to affect fire protection because we still have a truck that’s in service,” said View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst. “If it’s a delay in the order and it’s delivered six months later than it should have been, that’s not going to affect the outcome of fire protection in View Royal.”
Screech says though the loss of revenue will impact the town for the short term, small municipalities like View Royal are in a better position to “weather the storm” than larger ones.
“Our finnacial position is quite strong,” said Screech. “Long term, we would have issues, but short term, we can manage and we can reallocate funds and we’ll be fine.”
As for when the casino may reopen, View Royal’s mayor says it’s better to err on the side of caution.
“The vast majority of the clients in the casino are of the high-risk category,” said Screech. “We’ve seen in the United States what happens when you start to open too quickly.”
So the question remains: When will the casino reopen and when will View Royal see the financial benefit of the return of gambling?
“I think there is a safe way to do it,” said Screech. “That’s what they need to figure out and (provincial health officer) Dr. (Bonnie) Henry has to give her approval too.”