EDITORIAL: Gambling on a community partner

Penticton Lakeside certainly warrants better from city council than public insinuations they are not looking after his tenant’s needs

David Prystay, the general manager of the Lakeside Resort and Casino, is feeling a bit hard done by after finding out the city is talking with the BC Lottery Corporation about moving the casino to another location in the city. He is now questioning the ethical base the city is operating from.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit admitted the city was approached by the casino for a discussion, but says no formal proposals were put forth. But just the fact the mayor,  and allegedly members of council, were willing to enter into such a meeting without informing the third party — the Lakeside — smacks of backroom dealing. While the city shouldn’t extend insider business knowledge or any confidential information to the Lakeside, we do think it would merit at least a common courtesy of notice they were meeting with the casino.

As a tenant in the Lakeside complex, BCLC certainly has the right to look for new digs. And the City of Penticton has no more requirement to inform Prystay of their actions than a private citizen does. But ethically, the city has a responsibility to deal fairly with its citizens, and put their interests first, especially one that bends over backwards to help the community.

The philanthropic efforts of the Lakeside include raising money for the Canada Day and New Year’s Eve fireworks, assisting groups that host community events such as the United Way, BC Games, PeachFest, the beach cruise and dozens of others. As well, the resort had a direct hand in building the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Lakeside took a large part of the SOEC building costs off taxpayer shoulders negotiating a deal redirecting the portion of the casino’s profits that are set aside for expansion of the hotel.

The support Prystay has directed to the community through the Lakeside and the casino certainly warrants better from city council than public insinuations he is not looking after his tenant’s needs. Penticton city councillors need to take a step back and look at the concept of openness and transparency they were eager to talk about during the election.