Great Canadian Gaming Corporation closed Fraser Downs March 18 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that closure has left many horses and horsemen with nowhere to go. (Photo: elementscasinosurrey.com)

Cloverdale’s Fraser Downs closure leaves some horsemen and horses with nowhere to go

Sandra Roberts says horsemen’s welfare not being addressed

The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation shuttered Fraser Downs March 18 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that closure is leaving the horsemen feeling shut out.

After receiving a notice to be out by April 1st, the horsemen have started a petition asking to stay.

“We’re worried that our health concerns are not being met,” Sandra Roberts told the Cloverdale Reporter.

Roberts, an owner/trainer at Fraser Downs for 20 years, said she feels GCGC isn’t addressing the horsemen’s welfare by asking them to vacate Fraser Downs by April Fool’s Day.

“The information they released wasn’t true,” said Roberts. “They gave us an eviction letter — they called it a request to vacate — but when they said they were doing it to protect the health and well-being of everyone, they weren’t talking about the horses and the horsemen.”

On March 18, GCGC wrote in a press release that closing down “was necessary to protect the health and well-being of the company’s team members, the industry participants that race and train at the race tracks, and the support personnel for the industry.”

“Our health and well-being would be served by letting us stay on the grounds.”

She said about 100 horses and about 60 people are being affected by the notice.

SEE ALSO: Fraser Downs track now closed, following experiment with no-spectator races

Roberts added that the only people in the stables are the ones providing everyday care for the horses. She said not even owners are allowed in to feed their horses apples.

“Not the public, or unnecessary people mingling in the barns, but just the minimal personnel to ensure the care of their horses.”

She said there are never more than 12 people in a barn at any one time and they are open barns not enclosed barns.

“We come to the barn to do our chores and, when finished, go home,” Roberts said. “We are stabled in barns that are 275 feet long by 75 feet wide.”

Roberts is confused as to why GCGC wants them to move out if GCGC really has the well-being of the horses and horsemen in mind.

“Why (force) us to leave and disperse out to new places, causing new exposures, at a time when very little options are out there?”

Roberts wants GCGC to reconsider and she already has a petition with about 70 signatures on it.

“This is a time to consider the well-being of the entire community.”

The petition asks GCGC to let the horsemen stay on the grounds for the indefinite future. It also says, “The majority of horsemen have nowhere to go, as most training centres and farms have closed to the movement of people … and horses.”

The petition also says it’s in the “best interest for horses and their caregivers to stay put at Fraser Downs.”

Horseman Brent Hill said there are probably 50 horses still in the stables. “Some horses have already been moved, but many (horsemen) don’t) have anywhere to (take the horses). They’re phoning places in Alberta, now. The big stables in Langley are already all filled up. You can’t find availably for your horses.”

Hill said he’s lucky as he has a place to stable his horse, but he added some of the horsemen are now talking about squatting.

“There isn’t enough space for all those horses to go anywhere in the Lower Mainland,” he said. “Some horses and horsemen have already started to spread out across the country. That’s not really the best way to stop the spread of the virus.”

GCGC announced the closure of Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver and Flamboro Downs in Hamilton at the same time they announced the closure of Fraser Downs.

Matthew Anfinson, Great Canadian’s COO, said in that March 18 release, “This was a difficult decision for the Company to make, especially considering a similar decision was made for Great Canadian’s gaming properties across the country just a few days ago.”

Media contact Chuck Keeling, executive VP for stakeholder relations and responsible gaming, did not return calls by publication time.



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CloverdaleCloverdale Fairgroundshorse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack trustee removed from committees, district invites

Barry Neufeld’s censure involves four forms of reprimand due to recent Facebook post

Volunteers and donors behind Chilliwack’s boots and backpacks programs awarded

Principals and vice-principals chose Murray Honda, Staples and Canadian Tire for provincial award

Chilliwack RCMP support Special Olympics athletes

This year’s torch run aiming to raise $30,000 for B.C.’s athletes

FVRD activates its emergency operations centre to monitor Fraser River levels

FVRD activates its emergency operations centre to monitor Fraser River levels

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

B.C. retirement home creates innovative ‘meet-up’ unit for elderly to see family face-to-face

Innovative ‘purpose-built’ unit keeps residents safe when seeing family for first time since COVID-19

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Death toll rises in COVID-19 outbreak at Langley Lodge

Number has risen to 22, making it the worst to date in B.C.

Fraser Valley libraries to offer contactless hold pick-ups

FVRL Express — Click, Pick, Go service to be offered at all 25 locations starting June 1

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Most Read