October 28, 2020

New Brunswick C of C takes poll on casino

ST. STEPHEN, New Brunswick — The St. Stephen Chapter of the New Brunswick Chamber of Commerce will meet Friday to analyze the results of a four-part survey of members’ opinions concerning the proposed construction of a Passamaquoddy casino at Calais, Maine, but those opinions may not be revealed publicly.

Peter Heelis, president of the local chapter, said Monday that 38 members were asked to participate in the chapter’s four-question survey at the conclusion of a luncheon meeting on March 16. Passamaquoddy Tribal Gov. Cliv Dore of Pleasant Point, Maine, the featured speaker, issued a progress report on the casino project and urged international cooperation.

Heelis said an analysis of the survey results, including a “straw poll” of members, would not be made public. Rather, the results would be inserted in a formal motion to the provincial Chamber of Commerce. “It would be a way of helping the provincial Chamber to formulate policy on business prospects,” he said. “It will reveal where we stand on the casino issue, just as we would consider any other business prospects.”

He said the provincial government opposes the proposed Calais casino.

Dore said casino developers are in the process of securing required environmental permits for an economic venture that has mushroomed into a $40 million project. Among key items on the drawing board with the casino, he said, are three hotels, improvements to the Calais downtown business district, and an expansion of the St. Croix Country Club to include an 18-hole golf course.

If the casino bill wins approval in a legislative debate this week, Dore expects a spring start of a one-year construction program for the casino package. The gambling house could open its doors next March, the tribal governor said.

The yet unapproved gaming bill is drafted to permit two casinos to be operated in Maine. Dore contends it would be economically unfeasible for more than two casinos to be licensed in the state. Several other large Maine communities, including Lewiston and Old Orchard Beach, have been mentioned as likely sites should the state open its gates to a flood of casino-gambling projects.

Dore and others contend that an array of gaming houses across Maine would tend to diminish an anticipated influx of casino patrons from outside the state. Also, the patronage may tend to be more limited to local gambling.

Should a casino complex be built as proposed on Baring Street in Calais, the socioeconomic shock waves would be felt far and wide on both sides of the border.

Dore encouraged Canadians to consider working cooperatively as business and civic leaders for the betterment of the international community. He said area restaurants and other businesses would be influenced by the largest economic development undertaking since the Georgia-Pacific mill complex came to Woodland, Maine, about 30 years ago.

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