Gateway Casinos will stick to a traffic-improvement plan devised by the city of Kamloops when its bid to build an expanded casino at the former Rona store in Aberdeen goes to a public hearing later this month.
Gateway wants to move Lake City Casino on Victoria Street to 1555 Versatile Dr. The new casino would have more dining options, expanded gambling options, a 500-seat amphitheatre and a new name: Cascades Casino.
City staff have recommended against the plan, pointing to policies that favour keeping entertainment options downtown.
Earlier this month, city council agreed to give the plan a public hearing but told Gateway to expect questions on how it will alleviate traffic congestion in the area — an issue flagged by many in the Aberdeen area.
Tanya Gabara, public-relations director for Gateway, said the company is in favour of a traffic solution drafted by the city, ICBC and the Ministry of Transportation, which would include a roundabout and new turning lanes.
Who would pay for the major improvements, however, is still in question.
“We’re still working with the city to figure out costs and that kind of thing. We’ve just determined what the solution would be,” Gabara said, adding the casino sees itself as “accelerating” road improvements the city would otherwise make in the next decade.
“We want the solution to happen prior to us going in there, obviously, because it’s easier and there’s less disruption to our clients once we’re open, so we’re accelerating that plan,” she said.
Gabara said Gateway’s traffic study predicts its peak traffic time would be between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., outside of the peak hours of other businesses in the area.
Gateway estimates the casino would generate about 523 car trips per hour during its peak time, which it says is much lower than what other nearby businesses draw.
Gabara said details around the timing of the upgrades and their funding would likely come once more engineering and design work is completed.
The public hearing is on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre, 1250 Rogers Way.
Members of the public can also comment on the project in advance by writing or emailing City Hall by no later than 4 p.m. on Aug. 18.
Gateway CEO Tony Santo told media last month if it gains the necessary city approvals, Cascades could be built within 12 to 15 months.