Calling on province to keep racetrack slots 0
Jim Hutton, Renfrew County chief administrative officer
Fearing the negative impact it will have on the horse breeding and agricultural sectors, Renfrew County is calling on the province to maintain its racetrack slots program.
Queen’s Park currently has a subsidy share with Ontario’s 17 racetracks whereby revenue brought in from the slots is split between the racetrack and the government.
However, the cash-strapped Liberal administration has proposed pulling Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation slot machines from racetracks, a solution it says will help the province battle its growing deficit. By canceling the subsidy, the government will be taking back its share of the revenue, ultimately ending the revenue-sharing agreement with the tracks, and using that money to help pay down the province’s $15-billion deficit.
The county believes upwards of 6,000 jobs will be at stake, chief administrative officer Jim Hutton told councillors last week.
“This will have a huge impact on jobs,” said Mr. Hutton. “We are one of the counties that would affected by the Rideau-Carleton Raceway.”
According to statistics provided in the 2004 provincial budget, Mr. Hutton noted, the Slots at Racetracks initiative supported 60,000 jobs and has diverted $1.1 billion into the agricultural sector since 1998.
“If this goes ahead and the racetracks are closed, we will see a very detrimental issue with regards to the economy conditions of the whole county,” said Renfrew reeve Audrey Green.
The county resolution asks the province to reconsider its position and implores them to support the horse breeding and racing industries. The resolution will be circulated to Premier Dalton McGuinty, Ted McMeekin, the minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, and Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski.
Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist