Stop Future Alterations to Marquis Downs Facility

Stop Future Alterations to Marquis Downs Facility

May 1, 2021
Petition to
Mayor Charlie Clark and City of Saskatoon Councillors and 4 others
Signatures: 1,862Next Goal: 2,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Nikki Hein

Prairieland Park leases 136-acres of AG-zoned land from the City of Saskatoon. The City of Saskatoon specifically mentions the “Administration Building, Grandstand and Race Horse Barns” as part of the lease (1.07[c]). These elements are to be kept in good condition and repairs equal in quality to the original (9.05, 13.01).

Prairieland Park was the only racetrack in all of Canada to cancel its 2020 racing season. 

In February of 2021, Prairieland Park decided to permanently cancel horse racing without consulting those who utilize the facility, pulling the rug out from under 500 SLGA licensed horsepeople and affecting a further 500 who are involved in or benefit from the industry in some capacity. 

Meanwhile, Prairieland Park continues to keep their monopoly on racing in Saskatchewan as the holder of the sole Home Market Area that spans the entire province. 

Prairieland Park has shown that they have no interest in operating the only racetrack in all of Saskatchewan, which will rob the province of approximately $37M in economic activity largely generated by agribusiness. Their decision also negatively impacts employment, youth programs, off-track thoroughbred initiatives, and local business in and around Saskatoon.

As 50 percent of the Saskatchewan Thoroughbred is represented by Indigenous peoples, Prairieland Park’s decision to permanently cancel horse racing also goes directly against the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action #66, #87, #88, #89, #90, and #92.2. 

Prairieland Park refused a recent offer from an interested and experienced investor to lease the facility. Prairieland Park has now ignored all recent emails to lease the facility to another interested investor and does not respond to requests for the creation of a mitigation strategy.

As leaseholder, the City of Saskatoon has the power to make amendments to their lease with Prairieland Park, which should be made for the benefit of and in the interest of the community that they are supposed to serve. 

The City has ignored the Thoroughbred horse racing community’s repeated requests to gain control of the land on which the Marquis Downs facility is located. During a meeting with Mayor Charlie Clark, Chief Duane Antoine from Poundmaker Cree Nation made an offer to lease and/or purchase the parcel of land on which the racetrack is situated so as to further Saskatchewan’s important Truth and Reconciliation efforts through employment and youth programs and to preserve the history and culture of the 100-year old sport that is based in Saskatoon. Mayor Clark was not willing to look into this option or discuss the matter further.

During the week of April 25th, a demolition permit was requested by Prairieland for a “Warehouse”. This term has been used loosely throughout the past two decades and is more than likely the first step towards demolition of the entire racetrack and barns to make room for a professional soccer field. The decision to replace the only racetrack in Saskatchewan with a soccer field was made without consulting the industry or the community that Prairieland is supposed to serve.

Alternatives, such as placing the field in front of the old grandstand facing Lorne Avenue as first mentioned as far back as 2019, are apparently out the window; again, this decision was made without consultation and lacks justification.

Section 4.02 of the 50-year lease states that “All Plans for the Development, and any addition, alteration or improvement thereto, are subject to the prior written approval of the Council of the City.”

Attempts to make alterations to the Marquis Downs facility, referred to as part of the “Development” in the lease agreement and consisting of the Race Horse Barns, Grandstand (Racetrack), must receive written approval from the City of Saskatoon, who in turn should consult with the community to decide whether or not these alterations are in the community’s best interest, taking into account the cultural, historical, and socioeconomic implications of destroying a structure built by and for the horse racing community.

The undersigned hereby petition against any alterations to the Marquis Downs facility by Prairieland Park and request that the land be leased instead by a not-for-profit organization modelled after the Manitoba Jockey Club and/or Horse Racing Alberta.

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Signatures: 1,862Next Goal: 2,500
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