As speculation swirls around a relocation of Penticton’s casino, general manager of the Penticton Lakeside Resort and Casino David Prystay feels slighted by the city.
Prystay said the resort made many valuable concessions in order to initially host the casino as a tenant, and feels the city is aggressively pursuing his tenant behind closed doors.
Using the resort’s electronic billboard, Prystay projected the slogan “For sale: City w/o (without) ethics” on May 14 and 15. He said it can take on two meanings – either that council’s discretion can be bought because they have no commitment to ethical practices, or that the hotel is for sale out of resentment that it’s situated in a city with no ethical standards.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit was disappointed by the smear. He said the city was approached by the casino for a discussion, but no formal proposals were put forth.
“Instead of making allegations that he’s the victim and the city’s doing whatever it can to poach his tenants, he should look at trying to address the needs of his tenant however that may be,” Mayor Jakubeit said.
“If the (casino) wants to leave that’s their option – no question about that,” Prystay said.
However, Prystay would like to have seen the city approach him to explain why a conversation was underway with his tenants.
In order to get permission to develop the casino in the late 1990s, Prystay said the Lakeside donated its waterfront walkway to the city and spent $1.25 million more than necessary to develop undue 100 parking spaces. Also, the city generates $1.5 million in tax revenue every year from the casino at its current location, he said, and the Lakeside’s cut from a development assistance compensation agreement was renegotiated for 2010 to help the city finance the SOEC.
“Just because he’s been a good community partner doesn’t mean the city stops and has to get permission from him to do anything,” Jakubeit said, adding that such discussions shouldn’t be aired in the public realm.
“There are variables we can’t consider – the casino could be using us as leverage to negotiate against him.”
But regardless of the intent of any discussion, Prystay said the city is ruining their relationship with the resort by leaving them out.
“It’s disheartening that the city does those behind-the-scenes dealings without even letting us know they’re in negotiations.”
Mayor Jakubeit stood by the city’s actions.
“We haven’t gone out and talked to anyone,” he said. “The (casino) came to us, we listened, and we talked about different locations in the community. If his tenant initiates conversation with us, we are only being prudent by having a conversation to see what they’re offering, or what their concern is or what they’re hoping to do.”
Because the words ‘tourist accommodation’ were added to the property at 325 Power St. – which allows for the addition of a new hotel right beside the PTCC, there is speculation that the casino may take up residence there.
“We want a premium hotel to come to Penticton; there’s a need from a tourism perspective,” Mayor Jakubeit said. “Whether that correlates to the hotel at 325 Power St. or somewhere else in the community, it’s any businesses right to look at options for their business to expand and grow.”