Agreement Reached with Woodbine & Province of Ontario

We can breath a sigh of relief … for the time being.  Woodbine Entertainment Group has reached an agreement with the province for 2 more years of slots & horse racing at Woodbine AND Mohawk Racetrack.

Much more work to be done.  I wish it could have been a longer term agreement but I’ll take the good news for what it is…

Interesting about the timing of these announcements….schools, horse racing…Halton related issues.  NOW we need to hear an announcement about Milton Education Village.

Heres a link to the announcement.

Horse Racing in Ontario to Continue

January 23, 2013 2:15 pm

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Ontario is another step closer to a sustainable horse racing industry after reaching an agreement in principle to provide transition funding to the province’s largest provider of horse racing.

The agreement with Woodbine Entertainment Group will ensure races continue at the Woodbine and Mohawk tracks as the industry adapts to a more sustainable model. Agreements with additional race tracks are anticipated to be reached in the coming weeks.

In order to receive transition funding, racetracks will have to meet accountability and transparency requirements. Providing a number of racetracks with transition funding is part of the government’s horse racing industry transition plan, which includes:

  • Continuing the Horse Improvement Program
  • Providing animal welfare supports.
  • Transferring responsibility for the Ontario Racing Commission to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Helping the horse racing industry transition to a more sustainable model is part of the McGuinty government’s plan to ensure increased accountability for the use of public funds.

Quick Facts

  • Ten race tracks have reached lease agreements in principle with OLG for its slots facilities. Additional agreements with tracks are to be announced in the coming weeks.
  • The Ontario Racing Commission will work with race tracks to provide a revised 2013 racing calendar as agreements are finalized.

Quotes

Headshot

“This agreement points to a renewed future for horse racing in Ontario. We look forward to working with additional racetracks towards the further development of a new model for a sustainable industry.”

Ted McMeekin

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

“The transition funding provides much needed stability for the industry. We are pleased with the government’s commitment to ensure the long-term viability of horse racing and breeding which has a proud heritage in Ontario. We look forward to working in partnership with government as we discuss the long term future of a sustainable horse racing industry.”

Nick Eaves

CEO, Woodbine Entertainment Group

AMO Coverage in Milton Champion

Milton politicians stress need for more schools at AMO – Key concerns discussed at provincial conference

Julia Le – Milton Canadian Champion:  A need for more schools was among the key concerns Mayor Gord Krantz and eight councillors raised last week during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference.

Krantz, councillors Sharon Barkley, Arnold Huffman, Mike Cluett, Rick Di Lorenzo, Cindy Lunau and Zeeshan Hamid, Tony Lambert and Local and Regional Councillor Colin Best were joined by Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr and Halton District School Board Trustee Donna Danielli as they met with Deputy Education Minister George Zegarac at the conference held in Ottawa to explain the challenging situation they are finding the Town in and the dire need from the Province to commit to building more schools to support the fast growing communities and the families and young children moving into them.

The meeting was originally schedule with Education Minister Laurel Broten, however likely due to the issues surrounding the current negotiations with teachers’ unions and school boards, Broten was unable to attend the conference, held each year to bring together municipal and provincial leaders and offer panels, discussions, and keynotes on a selection of municipal interest topics led by industry experts.

The group served as a united front in presenting Zegarac the reality Milton faces.

Danielli, the school trustee for the Milton 2, 3, 4 and 5 areas, said if it wasn’t for the repurposing of the old E.C. Drury High School, P.L. Robertson Public School was projected to have 40 portables by 2014. The old high school will now host a satellite location for P.L. Robertson as a temporary measure until a new school is built.

“It’s the best solution we have, but it certainly isn’t an ideal situation,” she said, adding that there’s no real place for full-day kindergarten and that families will have to be split up at different locations.

The group also lobbied for more funding to keep older schools up-to-date technologically and physically.

Danielli added the funding formula the province uses to dole out money to school boards needs to be revised.

“When you look at the 11 boards that are closest in area (to us), we’re at the bottom of the list in terms of per pupil funding,” she said.

The 56,000 students in Milton are receiving $1,000 to $1,500 when compared to surrounding school boards.

Krantz said he believes the group put its best case forward to the Ministry of Education and Zegarac, who seemed to be well versed in the town’s concerns.

“Was there anything ultimately resolved, well that’s hard to tell at this point, but I refer to it as keeping issues on the radar screen,” he said. “I think being in their face with your issues is just as important. (It shows) we’re not going away until we get some of this stuff sorted out.”

Danielli was more optimistic about the outcome of the meeting.

She said Zegarac seemed empathetic, even going as far as to say Milton was the “poster child of why we need capital funding.”

She doesn’t believe anything will be resolved until teacher negotiations have been settled, but hopes the Town will get the green light sooner rather than later to start construction before the end of the year.

Other issues Krantz and councillors discussed with the appropriate provincial ministers at the conference included making sure the hospital expansion was kept on the radar and the effect the Slots at the Racetracks program closure will have, not only on the horse racing industry but on the town.

The Province announced earlier this year that all payments made to the horse racing industry, including Mohawk Slots, through the Slots at the Racetracks program will end as of March 31, 2013.

Krantz and Lunau met with Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin to discuss the importance of keeping the horse industry alive. 

City of Hamilton Was Never Back In It

As I stated in this blog  recently and in the Hamilton Spectator last week, the 2015 Pan Am Games committee has chosen Milton as the desired location for the velodrome.  The City of Hamilton couldnt get a deal finalized after being part of the process for a couple of years and didnt get the job done.

MPP Ted McMeekin said recently that Hamilton is “too late to recoup the velodrome.”

Recently Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina made comments that a silent funder had come forward to see if they can get one last chance to get the velodrome back to Hamilton, but that was once again shot down by Mr. McMeekin this week.

The Town of Milton has been chosen as the location of the velodrome pending approval by Milton Town Council.  There is one more report to review and that is slated to be before us by January 23rd at an upcoming meeting.  We have until the 24th to sign a binding agreeement with the Pan Am committee and we are awaiting the receipt of that report.

Here is the artcile from the Milton Canadian Champion/Hamilton Spectator by Matthew Van Dongen

Hamilton too late to recoup velodrome: McMeekin

Hamilton can’t buy its way back into the Pan Am velodrome race with mystery millions, says Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin.

Sources told The Spectator last week a private corporation is willing to make a multimillion-dollar commitment to a permanent indoor cycling oval in Hamilton — even though Pan Am officials recently announced Milton as the facility host.

Milton has until Jan. 24 to sign a binding agreement to help fund the facility, which could cost up to $45 million.

“I guess if it doesn’t work out in Milton, everything is back on the table,” said McMeekin, the Minister of Agriculture and MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. “But the Pan Am people have been pretty clear Milton has been selected as the (velodrome) site. Clearly, the Pan Am people have moved on.”

Unless Milton backs out, McMeekin said he didn’t know how new mystery funding could help Hamilton’s cause “after the horses have left the barn.”

Hamilton was originally the preferred site for the cycling venue, but lost that status after Pan Am officials rejected the city’s $5 million offer towards building costs. A local fundraising group has continued collecting pledges and lobbying government to build in Hamilton and, in a recent year-end radio interview, Mayor Bob Bratina cited a deep-pocketed “prospective partner” for a local velodrome.

The mayor of Milton figures that effort is too little and too late.

“Where was that interest a few weeks ago? Seems pretty late in the game,” Gordon Krantz said of Hamilton’s behind-the-scenes manoeuvring.

Krantz acknowledged that Milton’s offer could still fall through. His council is set to consider a business plan for the velodrome on Jan. 23 — the day before the Pan Am deadline for finalizing an agreement. The town of close to 90,000 is also waiting for the provincial go-ahead for a satellite university campus that Milton politicians want to pair with the velodrome.

But even if Milton retracts its bid, there’s no guarantee Hamilton will get another crack at the cycling oval. Krantz said Pan Am officials have told him they would consider building a temporary velodrome on Toronto’s port lands if Milton doesn’t commit to a permanent facility.

“I don’t think anyone is enthusiastic about that idea,” he said. “I’m hoping we can make (a permanent indoor facility) happen.”

Milton has its own private benefactor, Mattamy Homes president Peter Gilgan, who has offered $9 million in donations and cash for naming rights.

But the town would have to find at least that much money again to cover the 44 per cent municipal portion of velodrome building costs, estimated by Infrastructure Ontario at between $35 million and $45 million.