Letters: Harness racing 'pushed to the tipping point'
These letters were submitted to the Cloverdale Reporter prior to the announcement on the new five-year agreement governing harness racing (see our upcoming Feb. 20, 2014 print edition).
Vital to economy
To the editor;
I run a stable of horses and would love to be able to stay in B.C. year round and contribute to the economy, buy meals in local restaurants and stores, buy feed from local suppliers, fuel from local companies, shop in local stores, etc. etc., but proposed changes to shorten our racing seasons... would make this impossible. Most of the industry would be forced to leave the province and take their economic benefits with them.
The original spirit of the decision by Surrey council to allow slot machines at Fraser Downs was in recognition of the importance of the horse industry to this area, and it seems that has been forgotten.
We need protection from the government to ensure that our racing seasons are of sufficient duration to keep our industry healthy and keep our industry in the province of B.C., where it will do its benefits to the local economy.
A year-round, healthy, racing industry is vital to this area, and needs to be protected. I want to stay here, I don’t want to pack up my business and leave.
Livelihoods at stake
We are hearing that the Casino is proposing to cut our race days and without this the industry as a whole will be forced to lose their livelihood. It will have a lasting impact on the owners of standardbred horses, trainers, farmers, for hay production, to breeding and foaling our horses, grooms, stable hands, kitchen staff, table staff, security, vets and their staff, not to forget the negative impact on surrounding businesses.
We need more dates to work with, not less. Without this our industry will die a slow death. People will abandon the industry or head to Alberta or further east to keep going.
Not only is there the loss of jobs at the track, there is also the loss of revenue for the businesses surrounding the track in Cloverdale. They have previously taken out ads in support of the longer race season and the heritage of our sport.
And the ripple effect goes on to affect the tack shops, vets, feed stores farms and agriculture throughout the province. Not only does it affect Cloverdale but the breeding and turnout farms scattered throughout the province, and the vets and farriers and feed producers in those surrounding areas.
It is pretty clear that there is no tomorrow for negotiating, the future is now, and it seems we are being pushed to the tipping point.