There will not be a referendum for the proposed South Surrey casino, according to Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.
The mayor's comments follow news that the gaming application for the project was pushed back in order to allow for council and city staff to gather more information.
When asked about the possibility of a referendum on the issue, something opponents have been calling for in the weeks prior, Watts said.
"We don't hold referendums on land-use issues, it's just not something that's done."
Instead, said the mayor, members of the public will have an opportunity to speak their mind on the issue when a public hearing for the gaming application comes up, now likely on Jan. 14.
"That's why we have public hearings," she said. "It gives the public a change to address mayor and council as a whole together and voice their concerns."
While she was unable to provide a specific figure, Watts estimated that the cost of a referendum would be around $700,000 or more.
"It's very expensive," she said. "So it's a significant cost."
Watts also noted that calling for a referendum might not necessarily be the best way for opponents to show their opposition to the project, as it also includes the rest of the city by default.
"With somebody asking for a referendum I think they really need to understand what it entails and that it encompasses an entire city," Watts said.
"It's not always the best thing to do when you're trying to get your concerns forward. I think it's better to come to a public hearing and lay those concerns out and voice them as best you can."
For Terry McNiece, president of the South Surrey Ratepayers Association and one of those calling for a referendum, he would still like to see more ways to engage with city council. and throughout this process the community never got to have a one-on-one discussion with the mayor and members of council. To me, that's wrong."
Another issue opponents have been particularly vocal about is the donations Watts' Surrey First party received in the lead up to the 2011 municipal elections by the would-be developer, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited.
While Gateway donated $16,500 to Watts and her team during the campaign, Watts says the money won't play any role in council's decision.
"It's not going to sway us at all, one way or another," said Watts. "We will make a decision based on what's in front of us to the best of our ability."
James Chen, general counsel for Gateway, said the contribution was made based on the economic work Surrey First has done for Surrey.
The gaming application for the proposed South Surrey casino is expected to appear at the Dec. 10 Surrey council meeting, with a public hearing expected on Jan. 14.