By Kathy Yanchus, REVIEW STAFF
It was never the intention of the provincial Liberal government to push the horse racing industry to the brink of extinction, according to Premier Kathleen Wynne.
She is committed to ensuring a sustainable industry, albeit a smaller one, and current negotiations between racetrack owners and the government should lay that groundwork, said Wynne in a teleconference call with Hamilton and Niagara media last Thursday afternoon.
“That’s what I want to see. That’s the conversation I want to have with the (government-appointed transition) panel because there never was, from my perspective, any intention that we would do anything that would mean that the horse racing industry couldn’t survive, and so I want that sustainability and I want the negotiations to work towards that end.”
Wynne said she has yet to meet with the panel – comprised of three former Ontario cabinet ministers – but that discussions underway with racetrack owners should inspire confidence that “we’ll be able to keep this industry in shape as we go forward.”
As for a casino at Flamboro Downs, the premier said any decision made by the city of Hamilton would have to be consistent with the Greenbelt Act and provincial policy, in terms of expansion. “They’ll have to make sure that they conform to all those provincial policies. My position on casinos is that we’re going to allow municipalities, within the framework of other provincial policies, to decide whether they want a casino and where it will be located, so we’ll be very clear that all of the rules have to be followed.”