Sudbury Downs could be saved as a non-profit business

Sudbury Downs closed its gates Oct. 13, 2013, marking an end to horse racing in the north. The hope is to have it open again in spring.
Greg Walling is a consultant who transformed Peterborough's troubled racetrack into a successful business model will file a report on Sudbury Downs by December. (File Photo)

Northern Ontario's only harness racing track could be making a comeback as a non-profit.

This year's season was cancelled after a deal between the province and the racetrack fell apart.

Sudbury Downs closed its gates Oct. 13, 2013, marking an end to horse racing in the north.

Now a new endeavor is underway to revive the sport.

Greg Walling is a consultant who transformed Peterborough's troubled racetrack into a successful business model.

He's been hired by the Ontario Racing Commission to see if he could do the same in Sudbury.

"Sudbury Downs has to be self-sustainable because it's so far off the beaten path from the other racetracks. Therefore, it has to be its own industry," Walling said.

In order for Sudbury to create its own niche, local NDP MPP France Gelinas says the racetrack needs to offer more than just racing, things like camping, horse shows, and a fall fair.

Gelinas says things like that will give people in the industry the confidence they need to return to the industry.

"They would bring the horses back under the right conditions. And the condition has to do with a bit of stability in the future," Gelinas said.

Walling says his final report will have to be handed over to the commission by December.

The hope is to get horses back racing by spring.

"The challenge will be ensuring there's enough horses to race. If people are going to invest in horses again in the Sudbury area, we have to create a stable business environment and long-term plan," Walling said.

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