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An Open Letter to Premier Wynne Regarding Hiawatha Horse Park

Premier  Kathleen Wynne
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A1A1

Dear Premier Wynne:

On March 22nd, I wrote to you asking for your government’s immediate action to finalize a funding and racing agreement with Sarnia’s Hiawatha Horse Park.  It is my understanding that on April 18th, your government finally began discussions with Hiawatha.  I am also aware that, based on your government’s new funding model, your  initial offer to Hiawatha falls well short of the level required to facilitate racing at the the track this season.  As important racing opportunities have already been lost, further delay in reaching a workable agreement with the ownership of Hiawatha will only weaken the viability of the track and the possibility of being considered for the new OLG integration model.

As Premier and Minster of Agriculture and Food you are obviously aware that the imminent closure of Hiawatha Horse Park is of great concern to the hundreds of workers and their families in Sarnia-Lambton who earn a living thanks to the horse racing and breeding industry.  As you know, the economic significance of preserving the horse racing industry in rural Ontario goes beyond the agricultural aspects of breeding, feeding, and training.  Using the guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Tourism, gaming has consistently been identified as one of five key core attractions for Sarnia and Lambton County; this obviously includes the Hiawatha Horse Park.

By ignoring this economic reality, your government is significantly impacting not only the horse-racing and breeding industry in Sarnia-Lambton but also the tourism industry which contributes over $175 million per year to the local economy.

As such, I encourage you to direct your representatives to immediately reach an agreement with Hiawatha Horse Park so that no further damage is done to the Sarnia-Lambton economy, or the horse racing and breeding industries.

To illustrate the importance of the issue in my community, please find enclosed letters from representatives of local government, business, industry and agriculture unanimously supporting ongoing racing at Hiawatha Horse Park.

Your immediate action is required to remedy this situation.  I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Bob Bailey, MPP
Sarnia-Lambton