The proponents of the South Surrey casino project have decided to fight fire with fire when it comes to gathering support for the proposed entertainment centre.
While opponents have been circulating petitions requesting council not proceed with the project, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited, the group behind the proposal, have begun amassing signatures from those who would like to see the casino go up in Surrey.
Those signatures are being collected at Gateway's Lower Mainland gaming locations, including Cascades, Starlight and Grand Villa casino, as well as Newton Square Bingo Hall.
"Obviously many of our patrons are interested in the project and the benefits that it's going to bring to the community and all the features it has with it," said Tanya Gabara, community liaison for Gateway.
As part of that engagement process, patrons are also given something for their time, things ranging from cookies and candy to pull-tab prize tickets.
"So we're asking them to engage with us in conversation and find out about the project and in doing so, we are giving them a token of appreciation for their time, (regardless) of whether or not they are for or against the project," she said.
Terry McNiece, president of the South Surrey Ratepayers Association, and opponent to the proposed casino, found it amusing that Gateway was giving their patrons anything to hear about the casino.
"They're entitled to do whatever they want to do," he said.
All signatures collected by Gateway will go into a package being compiled for Surrey City Council, which is to be presented at a Dec. 10 meeting. When asked how many signatures had been collected as of Tuesday, Gabara said she wasn't able to provide a numerical figure, but did say the number was "substantial."
"We're still tabulating them all in preparation for distribution," she said. "I am not the one counting them."
For McNiece, he can see why Gateway would want their own petition, but questions whether it should carry the same weight as one by residents in the proposed area.
The gaming application for the project will come before council on Dec. 10, with reports, and a public hearing on the proposal is expected at a Jan. 14 council meeting.