A masked statue of Billy Barker sits on top of his namesake casino. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

A masked statue of Billy Barker sits on top of his namesake casino. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Quesnel mayor, council support call for B.C. casino re-openings

Letter to Premier Horgan, endorsed by 12 B.C. mayors, asks for clarity on casino re-opening plan

After being closed for more than a year due to COVID-19, B.C.’s casinos are pleading with Premier John Horgan to shed light on a plan to allow reopening.

On March 4, an email was sent to Premier Horgan asking for clarity on the situation for B.C. casinos. The letter, written by Val van den Broek, the mayor of the City of Langley, was endorsed by 12 other B.C. mayors, including Quesnel mayor Bob Simpson.

The letter notes the mandated closure of casinos will have a “lasting effect” on employees and their families.

“Nearly 37,000 people are employed through British Columbia’s gaming, entertainment, leisure and hospitality sectors, including over 10,000 people directly employed by gaming operators in casinos, community gaming centres, bingo centres and horse racetracks,” the email said.

Attorney General David Eby issued a directive to temporarily close all gaming facilities in the province by midnight on March 16, 2020. They have been closed ever since.

In Quesnel, Billy Barker Casino Hotel majority owner Brad Kotzer said he is aware of the email written to Premier Horgan, and the fact that Mayor Simpson endorsed it — in part at Kotzer’s request. He’s hoping for a reaction from health officials and the province.

“It’s been tough. [The casino is] closed, yet we are keeping the power on and some people employed. I’m surprised more casinos haven’t announced bankruptcies yet,” Kotzer said. “We’ve gone to Dr. Bonnie Henry and her staff a few times, but the answer is always, ‘no, not yet.’”

READ MORE: Quesnel casino hoping for spring opening

Mayor Van den Broek’s email notes that other Canadian provinces and territories have kept casinos and gaming facilities open, with restrictions.

“Workers and their families deserve to know what the Province is doing to get them back to work as quickly and safely as possible,” Mayor van den Broek said in the email.

The email was presented to Quesnel city council at the Mar. 23, 2021 regular council meeting for the information of council members. Mayor Bob Simpson noted that as a community with a casino, council and staff have been working with casino operators to find out where the province is on reopening.

Billy Barker Casino’s Kotzer said the year-long closure has been frustrating, especially in a city with consistently low COVID-19 cases.

“It’s tough for areas that are doing a good job of keeping numbers low or, because of geographic reasons, have been able to keep numbers low. There have been a handful of cases in Quesnel, and yet [B.C. has] the same rules for all the health areas,” he said, adding the Billy Barker is willing to reopen with minimal staff and few customers permitted at a time, and heavy safety measures.

PHOTO: Billy Barker’s festive new suit

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email a letter to the editor to: editor@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

City CouncilgamblingQuesnel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CNC’s Applied Research and Innovation had partnered with the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cariboo Agricultural Research Alliance and Mackin Creek Farm after receiving funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to research a number of solutions potentially extending northern growing seasons. (Photo submitted)
Ways to extend growing season in B.C.’s north explored by College of New Caledonia in Quesnel

Low-cost supplemental LED lighting appears to benefit plant growth

Ecosystem restoration burn planned northwest of Quesnel near Neewa Creek

Burning will take place between April 19 and 30, 2021

Robert Merz recently shared some history behind Merz Road on Facebook. Originally built as a portion of the old Nazko Road, he said Merz Road was named to honour his grandfather and long-time Bouchie Lake resident Walt Merz. (Robert Merz Facebook photo)
Bouchie Lake residents record history with Rural Road Name Challenge

Residents explore and share origins of road names

The City of Quesnel issued an evacuation order for the property 1927 Dragon Hill Road, where the business Marshall Veterinary Hospital is located, due to the risk of landslide Thursday, April 15. (Marshall Veterinary Clinic Facebook photo)
Marshall Veterinary Hospital staff left scrambling after receiving evacuation order

Quesnel business ordered to evacuate due to landslide risk

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

(Sarah Blyth/Screen grab)
Vancouver officer under watchdog review after being convicted of uttering threats

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to civilian Sarah Blyth

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

B.C. Premier John Horgan greets Lt. Governor Janet Austin's dog Macduff as she arrives to present the throne speech at the B.C. legislature, April 12, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of B.C. residents have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Most Read