Current Horse Racing Issues continued
|We in the standardbred side of
the industry have been steadfastly private-sector through all of our history
and we have argued for minimal government involvement. But central authority
can give this diverse industry both cohesion and direction at no cost to
taxpayers. That is the public-private model we seek.
It should be understood that the BC Racing Commission cost government nothing. The entire budget was covered by pari-mutuel revenues. We don't understand how shifting all of the responsibilities of this Commission to the public civil service payroll assists in reducing the size of government.
And something important is lost. The racing commission - local and available - was inextricably linked to consultative processes with the industry. It now appears as if all responsibility is with Victoria-based public servants, located far from the heart of this sport and business.
We also understand that these are interim measures. We urge rapid action to ensure proper dialogue.
Thoroughbred versus standardbred
We are concerned that our issues will be subordinated to the difficulties being faced in the thoroughbred sector.
Prior to 1994, the thoroughbred sport was also private sector, profitable and a taxpaying component of B.C. commerce. But for over 20 years it has been understood that unless there is major capital investment in new facilities, our prospects are dim. With that in mind, thoroughbred interests convinced the former B.C. government that a non-profit agency (originally Crown Corporation and subsequently non-profit society) could best operate the Hastings Park track and set the stage for future development. The Pacific Racing Association was given this mandate and a government-supported line of credit.
Because it was viewed as a quasi-government operation, Hastings Park was given several advantages not available to the standardbred sector. This is outlined at length in the impartial report, The Road to Recovery.
are now taking place which hope to find a successor to the Pacific Racing
Association, but a change of management, in itself, will do nothing to
improve the ability of BC horse racing to compete within the sports and
Furthermore, while a strong and solid operator for Hastings Park would alleviate some concerns within the thoroughbred sector, it does little for the standardbred sector, 40 per cent of the industry. We hope government does not assume that merely allowing for a new thoroughbred operator would materially improve the racing industry's competitive position.
More profound and fundamental measures are necessary.
Woodbine Entertainment Group
ęCopyright Fraser Downs 2001