Rideau Carleton Raceway gets $26M funding boost

Rideau Carleton Raceway will be able to put on 90 races this season after the province agreed to give the track just over $26 million over five years.
Funds from province will keep raceway afloat but not seen as a long-term solution. 3:16
The Rideau Carleton Raceway will be able to pay out purses for 90 races this season after an infusion of money from the province. (CBC)

Rideau Carleton Raceway has been given a lifeline from the province's agriculture ministry, which has agreed to give the track just over $26 million over five years.

Premier Kathleen Wynne's government is boosting the province's horse racing industry with an additional $100 million over five years, including $5.25 million annually over five years for Rideau Carleton.

Racetrack spokesman Alex Lawryk said money won't provide the same kind of income to the track as when the province ran the slots-at-racetrack program (SARP). Back then, he said, the track could hold as many as 154 races in a season.

But it will keep racing alive, he said.

"We're delighted that the premier has fulfilled the promise of sustaining racing," said Lawryk. "It doesn't come to the level we used to achieve with SARP...[but] it will ensure the continuance of our industry and competitive racing in Ottawa."

Lawryk said had Rideau Carleton not received any money from the province, the track would have held anywhere from zero to 30 races, and any races they did have would be more local, grassroots races.

'At least it's something' 

People working at the track said the money won't bring the track all the way back, but said it's a start.

"It's at least something, we had nothing before," said farrier Dwayne Hay.

But Hay said the five-year funding boost is only the beginning, and said the racetrack needs to bring back customers if it wants to survive.

"We're not out of the woods by any means...there's a lot of work yet before this is finished," he said.

Track surface supervisor Jeff Taylor said he would have liked to see a revenue-sharing model, but after struggling for the past two years, anything is welcome.

"I don't think it's quite what we need...but the way it's been the last couple of years, any step in the right direction is the right direction," said Taylor.