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Racing City Mayors Speak Out


Published: February 26, 2012 8:30 pm ET

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"I was a little put off actually at the way the announcement came about. The Minister didn't choose to do it in a public forum, dealing with those that are most affected but chose to do it at a downtown luncheon in Toronto where he slipped it out even before the Drummond Report came out."

Two cities rich with history and ties to horse racing in Ontario are Milton and Fort Erie. Both reap tremendous benefit from hosting racing at their respective facilities, Mohawk Racetrack in Milton and Fort Erie Racetrack in Fort Erie. As the largest employer in town, Fort Erie's mayor Doug Martin felt slighted by the way in which the news came out and is not taking it lightly calling it a "full frontal attack" on the horse racing industry.

"When it's good for the province, it's a partnership," Martin told Trot Radio's Norm Borg, "and when they want to dump it, it becomes a subsidy."

Just over one month ago, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan noted in a release from the OLG that "the partnership between OLG gaming sites and the 23 host communities continues to provide considerable advantages to people across Ontario. Municipalities are enabled to make improvements to infrastructure and community programs by the sharing of gaming revenues, while the sites themselves create employment opportunities and stimulate tourism within our province.” (emphasis added.)

The mayor of Milton, Gordon Krantz emphasized the importance of the industry to Halton region, noting it's worth multiple millions of dollars.

"Not only just the horse racing industry itself, you cannot or should not forget about the agricultural component, regardless of whether it's the blacksmith or some cash-crop farmer that's providing hay and grain to the industry. It's huge."

When asked if racing was subsidized by the government, Krantz strongly opposed the term going so far as to say that racing's partnership with the government provided and continues to provide the province with much needed revenue.

Do the mayors feel it's time for action? Krantz prefers a wait-and-see approach on seeing how the province will follow through on Don Drummond's recommendations, he's willing to proceed with legal action if needed.

"Am I anticipating that? No, but if need be I certainly would go to the wall on it, for sure."

Martin and his people are taking a more pro-active approach.

"We're in the process - through my economic development officer, who is also the general manager of the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium - we're going through our Member of Parliament to arrange a meeting with either the Minister or his staff to sit down and find out exactly what is the plan from the province and what direction are they planning on heading. We don't want to over react, we just want to be sure we're dealing with them on a factual basis."

Martin is also hopeful to have a face-to-face discussion this week with someone from Fort Erie who he's known for years, Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak, and would also like to hear the opinions of Ted McMeekin. The current Minister of Agriculture was the Mayor of Flamborough and on the task force that helped solidify the slots-at-racetracks partnership.

"I'd be curious to see how he's going to react to the fact, especially with the significant impact that horse racing has on agriculture in the province of Ontario, how is he going to support - basically - the elimination of racing in Ontario."

To hear the full interview with Borg, Krantz and Martin, click the play button below.

Episode 253 – Mayor of Fort Erie, Doug Martin and Mayor of Milton, Gord Krantz
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

Please note that the opinions expressed in the featured interview are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect Rideau Carleton Raceway and/or Standardbred Canada.

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