PETER CONRADI and JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
The Ontario Municipal Board has rejected all appeals against the planned Canadian Motor Speedway in Fort Erie, paving the way for ground to be broken soon on the new facility.
The decision released by today OMB vice-chairwoman Susan de Avellar Schiller included some requirements and restrictions that were agreed to by CMS and the Citizens Coalition of Greater Fort Erie prior to the OMB hearing.
Proponents say the $400-million racetrack and entertainment complex will be a world-class facility that will attract visitors from all over North America.
“CMS is very excited about the decision by the OMB chair and that the conclusion reaffirms that our project addresses and implements matters of provincial and regional interest,” said CMS executive director Azhar Mohammad in a release.
” This will be a world class facility that will attract visitors from all over North America. We are very anxious to begin the next steps in seeing the speedway become a reality.”
Here are the results of a Bullet News poll conducted last year….
How do you feel about the proposal today?
The proposed complex includes:
- 1.0 mile paved motor speedway oval and spectator grandstand (65,000 seating capacity) with support facilities in the infield such as truck and RV parking, garages, first aid stations, fuel handling area, media centre, fan walk, maintenance and emergency command centre;
- 2.5 mile paved motor speedway road course with support facilities;
- a motocross/BMX /snow mobile/rental kart centre speedway course located within the road course area;
- 75,000 square feet ancillary commercial component supporting the Speedway;
- 185 acres for a parking and camping area along the southwest corner of Gilmore and Laur Road and along the lands south of Bowen Road, west of Laur Road;
- 31.1 acre “Innovation and Centre of Excellence”- post secondary educational and professional facilities related to the research and development of automotive technology and manufacturing and assembly of prototype products associated with the Centre;
- 170 acres of natural features;
- 51.3 acres for storm water management facilities.
“The decision emphasizes the importance of the Speedway in supporting economic diversity and promoting increased opportunities for economic development,” Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin said.
“The town prides itself on its ‘open for business’ attitude and is more than ready to roll up its sleeves and get those shovels in the ground.”
The OMB decision comes as welcome news in a town looking for some good news after a seemingly endless streak of bad news.
Earlier this year, Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation permanently shuttered the Slots at Fort Erie Race Track, a move that cost more than 200 people their jobs. At the same time, the province announced its decision to end its slots-at-racetracks program, which, since the late 1990s, had provided a source of funding for horse race tracks across Ontario. That decision put the future of the Fort Erie Race Track in jeopardy.
This summer, DMI Industrial announced the permanent closure of its wind-turbine tower manufacturing plant in Stevensville. At its peak, the plant employed some 300 people.
Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor says the Canadian Motor Speedway project shows major investors are willing to build in Fort Erie, which “sends a strong message that the town is open for business.”
“I’m ecstatic,” Craitor said of the OMB decision. “This is going to be a great catalyst for Fort Erie.”
Craitor said the project proponents have not sought any direct financial aid for the project to date, however, he said he expects CMS may come looking for the province to support off-site infrastructure upgrades, such as improvements to roads and highway ramps.
Craitor also suggested the company might consider applying to the recently approved Southwestern Ontario Economic Development Fund, if the proponents feel there are some project costs that fit the program criteria.
Originally, the fund was not going to be open to Niagara businesses, but Craitor and a group of Niagara Mayors successfully lobbied Queen’s Park to extend the territory the fund encompasses to include this region.
“That shows the government wants to invest down here in the Niagara region.”
This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.