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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Fraser Valley Bandits, CEBL bringing pro sports back later this month

Abbotsford-based basketball team kicks off CEBL Summer Series on July 26

VIDEO: Car goes off Highway 1 and into a ditch in Chilliwack

Eastbound vehicle left the highway ending in the ditch on south side of Luckakuck Way

Guilty verdict for one of two men in large illegal marijuana grow-operation in Chilliwack

Charges dismissed against property owner where 3,200 plants, 32 kgs of dried weed found in 2017

Search continues for person seen floating in Coquihalla River in Hope

Rescuers halted the search Thursday night as darkness fell

Rescuers halt Coquihalla River search due to darkness, after reports of person in river

No information to indicate a child is involved, RCMP state, after this information surfaced on social media

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

Friends, family remember victim of Langley possible triple-homicide fire at memorial

Memorial held for one the of three found dead at a house fire in Langley Meadows last month

Family and friends mark birthday of teen who died after being discovered in Langley park

Carson Crimeni suffered an apparent drug overdose, his final moments broadcast on social media

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

Most Read