Nova Scotia

Solution to Truro Raceway's financial troubles disputed

Financial troubles at the Truro Raceway are causing tension between two groups who believe they each know how best to run the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition's primary tenant.

Colchester County, horse owners both vying to run track

The Truro Raceway has been around for more than 130 years and says as many as 200 people have jobs as a spinoff of the races. (CBC)

Financial troubles at the Truro Raceway are causing tension between two groups who believe they each know how best to run the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition's primary tenant.

Bob Taylor — the mayor of the Municipality of the County of Colchester as well as the county's representative on the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition's board of directors — says the municipality may purchase the raceway.

Local horse owners say they should be the new owners instead.

"There's a group of us that are experienced businesspeople and I've managed the racetrack here in the past," said Brent MacGrath, the owner of standardbred racehorse Somebeachsomewhere.

"We're prepared to put a plan together that the province — the Minister of Agriculture — has said on three different occasions, 'Give us a plan that we can support and we'll support it.' And that's our intention."

MacGrath and a group of local prominent businessmen offered to try to develop a business proposal for a long-term solution to the financial issues at the Truro Raceway, with the condition that the current board of directors resigns.

Taylor is against that plan and has said the Municipality of the County of Colchester will take the lead in proposing a plan to save the Truro Raceway — a plan that was discussed at a council meeting on Thursday night.

"I don't think it's fair, at this point, to ask the board to resign," said Taylor.

"I think we'd rather all work together and try to make it work."

'We thought it's time for fresh faces'

The Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition's current board of directors — which includes Taylor — voted earlier this month to pull the plug on harness racing at the Truro Raceway, which is almost $1 million in debt.

After a series of emergency meetings, the board and representatives from the Truro Harness Horse Owners Association agreed the board would look at a reorganization of management, with horse owners arguing they needed to have a bigger say in the decision making process.

In the meantime, the Truro Harness Horse Owners Association has dipped into a fund generated by bets on live races and advanced that money to the Truro Raceway so it can continue to host live races.

MacGrath said the horse owners believe the current board has to go.

"They had their chance and it hasn't worked and they wanted to close the place and I really didn't want to work with a group of people that thought the place needed to be closed," he said Thursday.

"We thought it's time for fresh faces."

Many residents told CBC News they feel it's unnecessary to use taxpayers' money to save the track when people in the private sector are willing to put the money forward.

"We hope that it survives. That's our hope. Hopefully there's a will here at council to make it work," said Taylor.

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