New gaming centre ready in a year

Shovels out Friday as building construction begins for new Maple Ridge gambling facility

Mayor Ernie Daykin (left) and Great Canadian Gaming vice president Howard Blank

Mayor Ernie Daykin (left) and Great Canadian Gaming vice president Howard Blank

There’s now an opening date for Maple Ridge’s new community gaming centre.

The 28,000 sq. foot entertainment and gaming centre will be open a year from now on Lougheed Highway and 227th Street.

A sod turning marking the official start of the building took place Friday, although forms for the footings are already in place, awaiting the pouring of concrete.

“As an oldtimer in this community, this (lot) has been underutilized, to be kind, for the last 60 to 70 years,” Mayor Ernie Daykin said.

After seeing the new gaming centre in Chilliwack, Daykin said he was looking forward to seeing the Maple Ridge version.

“We’re going to have an outstanding, vibrant centre in Maple Ridge that I think you’ll be proud of,” said Great Canadian Gaming vice-president Howard Blank.

B.C. Lotto Corp. president Michael Graydon said Great Canadian has an “essence” of giving back to the community.

“Responsible gaming is very critical to us at BCLC.

“I think you’re going to find this one of the most profitable and efficient pieces of land,” in Maple Ridge for the next year 60 years, he added.

The new gaming centre will include 100 electronic slot machines which were added in the last few years to a remodelled Haney Bingo Plex on 224th Street. Ten per cent of the revenue from those machines go directly to the District of Maple Ridge, earning the district at least $300,000 yearly.

Blank said the partnership between gaming and charities is envied around the world and helps charities, social services and government.

While council approved rezoning for the gaming centre in 2008, it will be five years before the building is complete.

Blank said that’s the original construction schedule for the company after other projects were completed.

TheĀ  entertainment-gaming centre will have a variety of slot machines, 200 bingo seats, a restaurant with an outdoor patio, dynamic flex space, water features, a green roof and 220 parking stalls.

The project also includes connecting 227th Street to Lougheed Highway, providing another entrance to the downtown.

“We look forward to the grand opening celebration in late 2013,” Daykin said in a release.