Gateway proposes mini Vegas for South Surrey

The City of Surrey is considering a proposal by Gateway Casinos to build a $100-million resort-style gambling facility that would rival Great Canadian Casino’s River Rock venue in Richmond and Boulevard Casino in Coquitlam.

Sprawling over a 25-acre undeveloped site on 168th Street, just off Highway 99 near 10th Avenue in south Surrey, the proposed resort would include a 200-room four-star hotel, 60,000-square-foot gambling floor, 27,000-square-foot convention and entertainment centre with restaurants and lounges as well as parking for 1,200 vehicles.

Tanya Gabara, community liaison for Gateway, touts the resort as one of “the biggest entertainment venues outside Vancouver,” providing much-needed space for conventions, concerts, comedy shows and other large events for residents of Surrey and the Fraser Valley. The theatre, she said, will have at least 800 seats.

This comparable to the Red Robinson Show Theatre at Boulevard Casino, which boasts 1,000 seats, and Red Rock’s theatre with 950 seats.

“We’re very excited,” Gabara said. “It’s going to be a fully serviced facility with amenities that Surrey just doesn’t have right now … the entire facility just encompasses amenities people are going outside the province and the country to get.”

The proposal still has to go to public hearing. If it is built, it is estimated it will to generate $6 million a year for the Surrey city hall.

Business officials argue the venue is desperately needed for the city, which doesn’t have a convention centre or four-star hotels.

Surrey has several venues that can handle small conventions, political events, fundraisers and sporting groups — the Sheraton Guildford Hotel, the Hazelmere Golf and Tennis Club, and Centennial Arena —but no facility that can handle all the needs of larger events. Concerts are usually staged at Holland Park or the Cloverdale Rodeo Grounds. The Peace Arch Hospital gala, for instance, is held at Centennial Arena.

Gateway and the B.C. Lottery Corp. will also have to consider how they expect visitors to reach the facility, given that it isn’t close to any SkyTrain stations. Great Canadian’s River Rock Casino, for instance, is at the Bridgeport stop on the Canada Line. Gabara said many of Gateway’s casinos shuttle visitors from SkyTrain stations or bus loops.

Gateway also runs the casino at Fraser Downs Racetrack but Gabara she noted that the new casino would not be competition for Fraser Downs because it will be “entertainment driven” and will appeal to a different demographic.

“We chose Surrey because it was identified by the B.C. Lottery Corp. as being an underserved market,” she said. “It just seemed like a great opportunity.”