What started as a debate around video games Monday deviated into a moral discussion around gambling, parenting and ethics, as Coquitlam council narrowly voted to expand a bylaw around arcades in the city.
The lengthy debate centred around an application from the Crash Crawly's outlet on Woolridge Street, as staff at the children's entertainment facility sought to add a handful of "child-oriented, token-operated, redemption amusement games."
Those opposed to the bylaw amendment, including Mayor Richard Stewart and Couns. Craig Hodge, Neal Nicholson and Lou Sekora, argued those types of machines can lead to gambling problems later in life.
"I think parenting is a really big challenge right now, and when we offer more and more activities that do mimic gambling, then we make parenting even harder," Stewart said.
Under the previous bylaw - which was written in 1986 - arcades and video games are only permitted in shopping centres, or in the lobby of a movie theatre.
The new bylaw allows video games in certain areas in indoor children's play centres in addition to the previous business types.
However, those games can only take up 10 per cent of the floor area of a particular business. Coun. Selina Robinson argued Crash Crawly's is located in an area of the city that's not necessarily somewhere children would go on their own.
Instead, she said, they're brought there by parents.
"I feel like the horses are already out of the stable on this one, especially given that it's in movie theatres and all kinds of other places," she said.
"And I'd like` to believe that parents are supervising their children and educating them about the risks of gambling."
Coun. Terry O'Neill suggested the addition of video games would allow the play centre to offer more types of entertainment, and as a result, be more viable as a business.
"I don't think what we're seeing here is dangerous in any sort of way - it's quite limited," he said.
"This particular facility that's in question here is one that provides a lot of amusement and entertainment for children and this is, I think, part of an overall package." twitter.com/johnkurucz