VLT supporters making headway in Rocky Mountain House

Petitioners pushing to have VLTs returned to Rocky Mountain House are poised to present their names to town council.

Petitioners pushing to have VLTs returned to Rocky Mountain House are poised to present their names to town council.

Jim Pogson, manager of Duffer’s Pub in Rocky, is leading the drive to have the machines installed. He said Thursday that he alone has gathered about 540 signatures.

“We hope to present the petition to council about the middle of the month,” Pogson said.

Council is scheduled to sit again on April 14.

When council received the information, it would then need to check the names and signatures, which would take some time.

A group of pub owners formed an association late last year and needs 723 names, which represents 10 per cent of the town’s population of 7,230.

This would be the second time in the last several months that petitioners have approached council.

Town officials rejected the bars’ first petition, declaring it invalid because of inconsistencies in names and questions on petition sheets.

However, Pogson said it’s being done right this time.

“We want to go in with a minimum of 850 (names),” he said.

“We’re being a lot more careful this time, checking who is signing the forms,” he added.

Only town residents who are older than 18 can sign.

Pogson said some Clearwater County residents who are customers of town taverns are upset they can’t sign.

“These people spend their money in town and work in town but can’t sign,” Pogson said.

He also said business has dropped about 30 per cent from the same period last year and taverns need to attract customers.

He said many people go to nearby communities of Leslieville and Caroline to play VLTs.

The machines were forbidden from town about 12 years ago after a plebiscite. Two-thirds of the 1,600 people who voted opted to turn the machines off.

The Rocky ministerial association, which is opposed to the machines, said it will debate the faults of VLTs if and when voters are asked to decide.

The association also lobbied against the machines in 1997.

Establishments with VLTs receive 15 per cent of net sales.

Even if voters want them reintroduced, there’s a three-year waiting period for installation, says the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com