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Surrey councillor says there's no conflict on a casino vote

By KEVIN DIAKIW
March 21, 2014 · Updated 4:50 PM
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Surrey Coun. Bruce Hayne / FILE

A Surrey councillor whose band has played for casino companies says he is not in conflict in voting on future gaming issues as they arise.

Coun. Bruce Hayne is the keyboardist and one of the founding members of a band called All About Jack.

The band has played at several casinos, including the Starlight Casino in New Westminster in October 2010, according to the band's website.

Starlight Casino is owned by Gateway Casino and Entertainment Ltd., the same company that owns the Newton Square Bingo Country at 7093 King George Blvd.

Gateway is also the company that tried unsuccessfully to open a casino in South Surrey. (Hayne opposed that application).

Asked if he might be in a conflict of interest when participating in a future vote, Hayne said he checked with the city's legal department, which told him he wasn't.

By law, Hayne has to be a "pecuniary" (money in the pocket) position for conflict of interest to exist.

A tougher standard to meet, however, is any public perception of conflict.

Hayne doesn't believe there is an optics problem either.

"I play in a band as a hobby, and I play all over the place at different events and things like that," Hayne said. He acknowledges he was paid to play at the casino.

In addition, The Leader learned he was personally introduced at the opening of the River Rock Casino.

He said all politicians present at the opening were introduced, but notes he was there on personal time, not as a civic representative.

A corporate report is coming to council on March 31 regarding the fate of the Newton casino.

Earlier this month, council indicated it wants to remove the 150 slot machines on site because promised renovations have not taken place on time.

Gateway spokesperson Tanya Garbara said the gaming firm is planning to proceed with redevelopment as planned.

The corporate report may require a vote of council as to whether to ask the B.C. Lottery Corp. to remove the slots from the facility.

Hayne sees no possibility of legal or perceived conflict.

He said his participation in a hobby band has nothing to do with slots or how a development will affect Newton.

"I see no personal interest in this one way or the other."

Hayne added he will consult the city's lawyer and his colleagues if the issue comes to a vote.

"I would certainly ask them to clarify whether I was on the right side of that," Hayne said.

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