JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
FORT ERIE – The Fort Erie Race Track received $5.5 million in public funding to help pay the bills this year – the first season without slot money since the late 1990s.
That’s according to newly released figures from the provincial government.
The 116-year-old border oval was one of 12 Ontario horse tracks to sign transitional funding deals with the province earlier this year.
Until now, the amount of money each track received was kept confidential.
The government did not want to release information about any particular agreement until it had completed negotiations with all tracks.
During the spring of 2012, the provincial Liberals decided to kill the slots-at-racetracks funding deal, which saw a portion of money from provincially operated slot facilities shared with the horse-racing industry.
The program officially ended March 31 of this year.
Under pressure from the industry and the opposition NDP, the province set up a panel of former cabinet ministers to determine how money set aside in the budget to help race tracks through a transition period would be divided up.
Here’s what the government has committed to for the 2013-2014 fiscal year:
Woodbine Entertainment Group (Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks)
$ 3.25 million
In addition, the province last week pledged $30 million in each of the next two years to continue the Horse Improvement Program through 2015.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the money will be used to support the race horse breeding sector and invest in equine research – a move made in keeping with the recommendations made by the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel following extensive stakeholder consultation.
“Continuing to invest in this forward-looking program gives the horse racing and breeding industry confidence there will be a future here for Ontario-bred racehorses,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is serving as her own minister of agriculture, said in a statement.
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