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More On Rideau Cancellations, Gondola Situation

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Published: February 4, 2011 2:51 pm ET

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Ontario Racing Commission Executive Director John Blakney, National Capital Region Harness Horse Association Director John MacMillan and Rideau Carleton Raceway have commented on the situation surrounding the state of the ORC judge's gondola at Rideau Carleton Raceway, which has caused the cancellation of scheduled race dates.

On Wednesday, February 2, officials from Rideau Carleton Raceway announced that it had been forced to cancel its cards of live racing scheduled for Thursday, February 3 and Sunday, February 6 due to health and safety concerns raised by the ORC in regard to the grandstand gondola (judges stand).

An article today by the Ottawa Citizen cites Blakney as saying that no live racing will be taking place at the track until the judges stand, which he referred to as a safety hazard, is fixed. The article states that Blakney issued the order to close the grandstand gondola on Tuesday, February 1 after an independent review found it to be a threat to workers’ safety.

“We received an independent report on 31st January about a number of fire and structural hazards associated with the gondola, and based on that report I issued a ruling closing down the gondola for reasons of safety for employees working out of that facility,” the article quotes Blakney as saying.

“The effect of that is, if they don’t have judges — and I won’t allow my employees into what has been assessed as a hazardous and safety issue with the gondola — they have to cancel races.”

An article by CBC.ca regarding the situation cites MacMillan as saying he is 95 per cent certain next Thursday's races will be cancelled as well.

"It's devastating, this time of year we only race two programs per week so financially most horse people struggle through the winter," MacMillan was quoted as saying. "So not being able to race on your home track makes things increasingly difficult."

In response to the situation, the raceway issued the following statement to the Ottawa Citizen upon completion of some minor repairs and its own inspection:

“The Ontario Racing Commission has raised a health and safety concern with the judges’ gondola. Although management of RCEC (Rideau Carleton Entertainment Centre) believes the gondola to be safe for employees after having had an independent health and safety inspection, we are awaiting confirmation by the Ministry of Labour. Racing will resume once a positive report has been received from the Ministry of Labour.”

With the ORC still believing the judges stand to be unsafe, the Ministry of Labour has been called upon to make the decision.

(Note - In a effort to consolidate comments on topics, if you wish to comment on the Rideau situation, please do so here.)

(With files from the Ottawa Citizen and CBC.ca)


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