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

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Oct. 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Ivan Scott. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Surrey mayor enters word war with speakers, councillor

McCallum calls brief recess after asking two speakers to leave chambers

Montreal-based writer Michael Foy grew up in the Newton area of Surrey. (submitted photo)
Surrey-raised writer Foy really loves to set his short stories in the city

His latest is published in ‘Canadian Shorts II’ collection

Brandon Nathan Teixeira, arrested last December in California in connection with a fatal 2017 shooting in South Surrey, is next due in court on Nov. 12. (File photos)
Notorious South Surrey fugitive returns to court Nov. 12

Brandon Teixeira was arrested last December in California

The site of the former Rona store in Newton could be home to a park and civic amenities, in the 6900-block of King George Boulevard. (Photo: Google Street View)
Surrey buying 16 properties in Newton for parkland, civic amenities

Mayor Doug McCallum says project will be ‘fast-tracked’

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Maple Meadows Station’s new Bike Parkade. TransLink photo
TransLink to remove abandoned or discarded bicycles from bike parkades

Rules at TransLink bike parkades ask customers to use facilities for single day use only

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read