Langley Township is considering a new horse racing facility that could replace both Vancouver’s Hastings Park and Surrey’s Fraser Downs.
The information comes from a letter from the Township of Langley to the BC Horse Racing Industry Management Committee. The letter was supplied to the Advance Times by a person who asked to remain anonymous.
Mayor Jack Froese confirmed the Township is exploring the idea, but said it is still early days.
The letter includes the text of a motion passed on July 27, 2020, at a closed-doors council meeting.
According to the letter, council was to advise the British Columbia government and the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) that the Township is interested in becoming a host local government, in partnership with the Kwantlen First Nation, for a gaming facility – specifically a race track.
The Township “would like to explore the relocation of the two major racetracks, both thoroughbred and standardbred, to a new one-mile, all-weather racetrack and training centre to be established on agricultural land in the Township at the lands owned by the Township at the North East corner of 216 Street and 80 Avenue, which would include a teletheatre (racebook) and, when permitted, an ancillary gaming facility,” the motion read.
The motion also directed staff to reach out to horse racing industry stakeholder groups, to the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and other casino operators, and to the operators of both Hastings Racecourse Casino and Fraser Downs at Elements Casino in Surrey.
Currently, the Township is reaching out to horse industry stakeholders, to see if there is any interest in moving the racetracks to Langley.
“A lot of the horse farms are here in Langley,” noted Froese.
But he can’t say what will happen next. The letter was just sent out to industry groups in June, and the Township is waiting to hear back, Froese said.
If the move takes place, it would be a huge new facility for the Township, potentially bringing in jobs, tourism, and gaming revenues.
While Langley City has a casino, Langley Township does not.
The site identified in the letter is located at 8020 216th Street, and is in the ALR.
According to B.C. Assessment, the site is 32.18 acres, with another four-acre lot to the north that is currently vacant.
The larger lot already hosts a riding ring and is the location of Sunny Riding Stables.
“We’re just delighted at the concept,” said Township Councillor Bob Long.
He noted that Langley, with thousands of horses, an extensive network of horse trails, and the Thunderbird Show Park, is already unofficially the Horse Capital of B.C.
“It really, really seems like a good fit,” Long said.
Fraser Downs was hit hard by COVID, shutting down completely in mid-April, ending spring racing early.
Casinos were closed from last March until July 1, impacting horse racing across the province, as racing venues rely on additional revenue from slot machines and other gaming.
READ MORE: Harness racing suspended at Fraser Downs
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