Video lottery terminals (VLTs) were a topic of discussion during city council’s May 25 meeting because a resolution was brought forward for the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) to lobby the province of Manitoba to devote 15 per cent of VLT revenue to addictions, poverty and homelessness.
AMM passed resolutions in recent years focusing on the distribution of VLT revenue and abuse of alcohol. The 15 per cent, if the policy is adopted by the province, would head back to the communities that have a high level of social problems created by the use of VLTs.
Coun. Judy Kolada was quick to speak on this resolution, as she’s been following the issue of VLTs for a while. “As you know I’ve paid attention to this issue and I estimated that there was a lot of money leaving our community, up to $50 million, however after numerous requests we finally had the government receive that there is over $10 million leaving our community every year.”
To be able to collect back 15 per cent, which would be around $1.5 million, Kolada says, would be a dream come true; however, with the financial challenges of this year regarding the city’s contribution to the wastewater treatment plant, which is over $12 million, Kolada suggested that the 15 per cent be cut in half; 50 per cent going to social issues, and 50 per cent going to general revenue.
Deputy mayor Penny Byer says Kolada made valid points but that they were premature. Byer suggested the city first gets the province on board, before they discuss where the potential money will go. “The province loves formulas, so I think what would have to happen is to get the province to agree to take 15 per cent from VLT in the province and then we have to have that conversation that Coun. Kolada talked about, to then sit with the province and say, ‘Now that you’re devoting 15 per cent, this is how we would like to see you use it.’”
Byer also noted that the resolution didn’t say 15 per cent specifically to Thompson, but to the entire province. The resolution was passed unanimously, and now AMM will lobby the province.