Crews started tearing out decades-old barns at the Charlottetown Driving Park this week to make way for new, more modern, facilities.

Colleen Dickie - custom

It's a good sign for the harness racing industry that new barns are being built, says Colleen Dickie, president of the P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owners' Association. (CBC)

The horse barn that came down Monday has stood beside the Charlottetown Driving Park for more than 50 years.

"We are going to be building a 120-stall barn," said Colleen Dickie, president of the P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owners Association.

"Brand new wash stalls in it, heated bath stalls, tack rooms, storage rooms. A really nice safe facility to house horses in. Also a nice airy, fresh facility. Where some of these horses are stabled now, I mean, the conditions are really not great."

The new barn will cost $2 million, with $1.5 million from the provincial and federal governments and $500,000 from the P.E.I. Horse Owners Association.

Poor ventilation was a particular problem in the old barns, said Dickie.

"You end up with things like mould and mildew, and none of that is good for horses' breathing obviously, especially for athletes," she said.

Barn demolition

The new barns will be ready for June. (CBC)

Many of those athletes have been raised by Brendan Curran's family. Curran takes the construction as a good sign for the future of harness racing.

"With the building of the new barns here it seems like there's going to be an industry for my children and their children," he said.

In other jurisdictions, said Dickie, barns are being taken down and not replaced, so the new infrastructure at the Charlottetown Driving Park is a definite plus.

The new barn and a parking area are due to be complete by June.