This Friday the Yorkton Exhibition Association (YEA) will send representatives to Regina to meet with the provincial government in what might be looked at as a last ditch attempt to save standardbred racing in Saskatchewan.
From a YEA perspective, Shaun Morin the organization’s manager said they believe racing is worth saving for what it brings to the city and they also feel like they are owed some support since they were willing to take on racing in the first place,
When the announcement of the funding cut for racing was made last spring, “it kind of left us (YEA) in a bit of a lurch,” said Morin, who noted they still owe $66,000 on a new pari-mutuel building.
In 2008, SLGA under Sask Party Administration presented an opportunity to YEA to access a facility improvement grant in the amount of $140,000. As a result, YEA seized the opportunity and constructed a new pari-mutuel building dedicated solely to horse racing. The total building expenditure was $274,000 with YEA borrowing the balance of $110,000 from the City of Yorkton.
The fact the province came up with funding for the new building in 2008, and then cut the purse strings to racing which was the major source of revenue for the YEA to pay off the building costs points to very short-sighted planning in the part of the province.
The funding loss, in terms of provincial spending, is small. The grant for racing in 2012 was $320,000.
Think about $320,000 in terms of overall provincial government spending and it is a truly insignificant amount, about one-third of kilometre in highway reconstruction, but to a decades old industry such as standardbred racing it is everything.
So what can the rest of us do to help the cause?
Morin said people can help the YEA in its effort to save racing. He said they are looking for letters of support from groups such as the city of Yorkton, and Chamber of Commerce, but also from individuals. The letters can be emailed to shaun.yorkto...@sasktel.net
Some will question why they would want to make the effort, since they themselves may not attend the races.
But a community such as Yorkton is a multi-faceted one in terms of entertainment.
Not everyone uses the aquatic centre, but most appreciate what it adds to the city in terms of local use and tourist drawer.
We may not all be fans of the Western Major Baseball League Cardinals, but we can share in the pride of knowing Andrelton Simmons, a former Card’ is now in the majors with the Atlanta Braves.
We may not all attend the Yorkton Film Festival, but as the longest running film festival in North America most will appreciate its significance to the city and beyond.
It’s the same with standardbred racing. We can understand it provides entertainment, and that the $1 million dollars in economic activity Morin suggests racing generates is important.
So it makes sense to support local efforts to save racing, so hopefully many will take a few seconds to send an email to remind government we want racing in Yorkton in the years ahead, and their investment is a worthwhile one.