Fort Erie Asks Towns To Unite And Save Racing Partnership

Published: February 28, 2012 05:00 pm EST

In a letter sent today (Tuesday) to Premier Dalton McGuinty, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan as well as mayors for racetrack host municipalities across Ontario, the town of Fort Erie demands the Province of Ontario to maintain its support and commitment to the horse racing industry

in Ontario in order preserve and enhance this historic industry.

Signed by Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin, the letter urges host municipalities to band together to maintain the current slots-at-racetracks partnership with the province.

The letter appears below.

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty
Legislative Building, Room 281
Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Honourable and Dear Sir:

Re: Maintaining the Rural Economy in Ontario by Maintaining and Enhancing the Live Horse Racing Industry

The Municipal Council of the Town of Fort Erie at its meeting on February 27, 2012 passed the following resolution in response to the Drummond Report;

WHEREAS the Fort Erie Race Track has been in operation for over 115 years;

WHEREAS the Fort Erie Race Track, Fort Erie’s largest tourism attraction, employs over 300 local residents directly and more than 600 horse people;

WHEREAS the Fort Erie Race Track contributes in excess of $24-million in direct annual expenditures to the Fort Erie economy2;

WHEREAS the Fort Erie Race Track provides $345,0002 in property taxes to the Town of Fort Erie;

WHEREAS the Town of Fort Erie wishes to continue its ongoing moral and financial support of the Fort Erie Race Track as a critical component of the local economy and as one of the community's largest employers;

WHEREAS the Fort Erie Race Track is an integral component of Ontario’s horse racing industry which employs approximately 60,0001 across the Province of Ontario and is a most important economic driver of jobs in rural Ontario;

WHEREAS all three levels of government realize substantial revenues from the horse racing and breeding industry expenditures, this revenue having increased by 27%2 in the last decade, as follows:

  • Federal Revenue - $382.7 million1
  • Provincial Revenue - $261 million (exclusive of slot machine profits) 1
  • Local Government - $138 million (paid to host municipalities where slots are located) 1

WHEREAS a total of $l.5-billion in wages and salaries in Ontario are sustained annually by the total expenditures of the Ontario horse racing and breeding industry (50% higher than the $1-billion in 2000) 1;

WHEREAS the horse racing and breeding industry is the second largest sub-sector of the agricultural economy, exceeding the contributions of wheat, egg, poultry and hogs in 20101;

WHEREAS direct and indirect investment stimulates local economies with demand for products and services in rural Ontario provided by veterinarians, blacksmiths, hay and grain suppliers, transport workers and harness and saddle makers1, as well as the thousands of jobs directly in horse racing and race track operations;

NOW THEREFORE be it resolved by the Municipal Council of the Town of Fort Erie that it hereby petitions the Province of Ontario to maintain its support and commitment to the horse racing industry in Ontario in order preserve and enhance this historic industry, and further

THAT the Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, notify the Town of Fort Erie and its sister communities of the Province’s intentions in this regard within a reasonable period of time, and further

THAT this resolution be circulated to Fort Erie’s 'sister' communities in Ontario who are also home to horse racing facilities or are home to economic sectors related to the horse racing industry, and further

THAT Fort Erie’s “sister” communities be encouraged to enact similar resolutions to express their support for Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industries in writing to the Premier of Ontario to preserve and enhance the live racing industry in Ontario.

  1. The Economic Impacts of Horse Racing and Breeding in Ontario, 2012 by Econometric Research Limited, November 2011
  2. Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium, 2011.

In 2010, as a result of the progressive and proactive efforts of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation (EDTC) the 'Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium'
(FELRC) was created as a non-profit corporation to operate and manage the Fort Erie Race Track. With critical financial partnerships, the EDTC successfully negotiated a three-year rescue plan with the Province and Town, thereby facilitating continued live racing at the Fort Erie Racetrack and saving hundreds of jobs in the process.

In conclusion, the resolution speaks for itself, illustrating the financial dynamics of live
horse racing in Ontario. The Province does not subsidize this industry, it is a key partner.

By copy of this letter to Racetrack Host Municipalities in Ontario, the Regional Municipality of Niagara and Niagara Area Municipalities, they are being requested to pass similar resolutions and to notify you and the Town of Fort Erie accordingly of the action taken.

We thank you for your attention to this important matter and look forward to an early

To view a pdf copy of the original letter, click here.



Congratulations to the Fort Erie council for their strong, detailed resolution.

Fort Erie has forwarded their resolution to other "host" municipalities across the province. It would be great if each and every one of those municipalities would support this resolution and indicate that support to Premier and members of the government.

Furthermore, I would hope those who live in those "host" municipalities would encourage their LOCAL politicians to support this resolution. Municipalities are creatures of the Province, they are used to meeting/lobbying their Provincial counterparts. Their municipal association (AMO) is one of the strongest lobby groups going -- would be great to get AMO on board!

Seems increasingly obvious, that if there is any chance of saving this thing we need the help of people beyond the racing base itself. As the Fort Erie resolution pointed out: "farmers, veterinarians, blacksmiths, hay and grain suppliers, transport workers and harness and saddle makers"....and the list goes on (in fact my blacksmith tells me Fort Erie is home to a horse-shoe making factory).

We need to urge/encourage these people to turn up the pressure on the politicians asap.