London, ON --- There was mixed reaction to last Friday’s announcement by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne regarding the future of racing in the province.
Some people reacted with negativity and doubt, some were positive and upbeat while others were, understandably, confused and apprehensive.
There are still a lot of questions to be answered and a lot of details to be finalized before anyone has a true picture of how the Standardbred industry in Ontario will be structured going forward.
However, at this juncture, Western Fair District would like to congratulate and thank the following:
Ted McMeekin, the former Agriculture Minister, for his foresight and wisdom in putting together the horse racing transition panel and the three exceptional individuals who served on it, Elmer Buchanan, John Wilkinson and John Snobelen, who each brought a unique and essential skill-set and knowledge to the table.
Premier Kathleen Wynne, the current Agriculture Minister, for inserting herself in the process, for consulting the panel directly and for mapping out a new funding model for racing beginning April 1. The fact that the Premier recognizes the significance of horse racing to the fabric of Ontario’s agricultural community is essential for its survival.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation for their partnership of more than a decade and one that we are confident will ultimately continue in some shape or form. They are not the adversary and the racing industry is not finished yet with this business relationship.
Our customers who have been patient and continued to support the product through all the uncertainty and difficulties of the last year.
Our industry’s associations for their hard work and efforts, particularly OHRIA and Sue Leslie for what they were able to accomplish over the last year.
The Western Fair District is grateful for the opportunities that lie ahead, the details and path of which are still unclear. The organization has been given an opportunity to help shape and implement a new racing model, albeit a smaller one, but one that has the potential to remain relevant and meaningful.
“We continue to be optimistic and are committed to helping forge a new future for racing in the province, despite everything that has happened during this past year,” concluded Hugh Mitchell, CEO of Western Fair District.