Newfoundland Repeals APHRC Act

Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission logo
Published: June 12, 2024 10:01 am EDT

Legislation has been passed by the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador to repeal the Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission Act in the province.

The Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission Repeal Act, Bill 44, was introduced by Honourable Siobhan Coady, Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board at the second session of the 50th General Assembly on March 4 and was passed through the legislature with no amendments before receiving royal assent on May 29.

Newfoundland and Labrador had joined the Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission in 2015 to form the current Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission (APHRC). Originally formed in 1994, the agency is responsible for governing, regulating and supervising harness racing in all its forms relevant and related to pari-mutuel betting for its member provinces, which includes New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Harness racing was last held in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the summer of 2015 at St. John's Racing and Entertainment Centre before the Goulds facility ceased live racing and simulcast operations.

During the second reading of the bill on March 13, Coady explained that the decision to withdraw from the APHRC was a financial decision for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador given the Commission's services are no longer needed without any active racetracks in the province at this time. She reported that the Province has made annual financial contributions towards the APHRC operations as a member totalling approximately $146,000 since 2015, including last year's contribution of $17,500.

"We're basically saying there is no current harness racing occuring in the province today, the harness racing in the Goulds has concluded, there's a closure of that track, so given the length of time that the facility has been dormant now, we've chosen to withdraw from the Commission," said Coady. "We do not have any active racetracks in the province."

Coady noted that there hasn't been harness racing in the province for a number of years and there is currently no active opportunity for harness racing to start up in the province today.

 "Should the sport be revitalized, it would likely take a considerable amount of time and financial resources to do so, but should the sport return to the province, we can revisit our involvement at that time," said Coady. "It does not make sense to be continuously paying for a commission that is no longer required in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. So this has nothing to do with our support for the industry or support for harness racing in general and has to do with financial contributions to the commission when the services are not required."

The Atlantic Provinces Harness Racing Commission Repeal Act is considered to have come into force on March 31, 2024.

The APHRC declined to comment on the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador's decision at this time.

(Standardbred Canada)

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