Opinion Column

The mayor's moral agenda


There's nothing quite like an election campaign to bring out the gimmicks. Last week, Mayor Gregor Robertson got a head start with his promise to impose a moratorium on expanding gambling in Vancouver.

What Robertson really should have called it is a moral-torium; another example of Vision's ideological social engineering gone wild.

I'm no fan of gambling, but fair process, debate and public consultation should drive policy decisions, not blind ideology.

Remember back in April when city council unanimously rejected the proposed expansion of the Edgewater Casino? Robertson said "Enabling the largest casino in Western Canada in our downtown doesn't fit with Vancouver's global brand as the world's most livable city." It was clear then that the Mayor's decision was not judged on the merits of this individual casino, but on his ideological plan for the city.

His objection isn't to gambling. There are already casinos in downtown Vancouver and in fact, the Edgewater proposal wasn't to build a new casino, it was to expand an already existing one.

The truth is that mega casinos don't fit with his ideological picture of the city. He doesn't want Vancouver to be known for having the largest casino in Western Canada. I guess he would rather Vancouver be known for rooftop gardens, people riding bikes instead of driving cars and backyard chicken coops.

Vancouver city council is already telling people how to live their lives based on the Mayor's ideological fantasy.

What is next on Robertson's moratorium list? Bottled water? Street meat? Cars?

Now that he won't have any pesky casino proposals to review, Robertson said his plan is to focus on other priorities. The priorities since he was elected three years ago have been things like bike lanes and urban farming, meanwhile property taxes have gone up and the Olympic village has been a financial disaster.

Robertson should stop imposing his ideological agenda on Vancouver, and start dealing with real issues that matter.

To be fair, there is one moratorium I'd get behind: how about one against raising taxes?