For the Sunny South News
Coaldale council is moving ahead with a bylaw that would bring Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) back to the community.
Council passed a motion to instruct administration to present a draft bylaw to allow VLTs during their regular meeting on Jan. 23. The vote was split 5-2, with Coun. Bill Chapman and Coun. Jacen Abrey voting against.
Chapman said he wanted to give the community an opportunity to decide the issue for themselves.
“This resolution, in my opinion, leads only to a decision that council will make rather than the community,” said Chapman.
Abrey said he would like to see a plebiscite on the issue and listed a number of social issues he was concerned with.
“When you do research on them, and how the addiction is with them, and how it increases crime, domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, psychiatric problems, and suicide, I’m just not prepared to make that type of motion and vote in favour of it at this time,” he said.
Coun. Jack Van Rijn put the motion forward, and in responding to Abrey he noted the town had already hired a polling company and the results of the poll indicated a high level of support in the community.
He said he agreed with Abrey’s concerns regarding social issues, but those issues were similar to other activities permitted in the town.
“It can be the same for alcoholism, where people can access liquor stores in Coaldale we currently have,” he said.
“By choosing to go to the liquor store, that’s freedom of choice. For myself, it’s the same thing when it comes to VLTs. We all need to govern ourselves.”
Results of recent polling indicated 75 per cent of respondents were in favour of allowing VLTs in the community and 69 per cent of respondents would vote to allow them in the community, if given a chance.
Mayor Kim Craig said he was in favour of bringing the motion forward because the town had spent money on the survey in order to guage the town’s feelings on the issue before making a decision.
“It would be an utter waste of our money conducting the survey to guage the temperature of the town, and then go contrary to the (results) of a statistically relevant survey,” he said.
“I think it’s the right thing to do with the public dollars we’ve spent so far.”
The draft bylaw is expected to be presented to council during their next meeting scheduled for Feb. 13.