Alberta Downs stays silent, awaiting approvals

Alberta Downs horse racing track owner Robert Allen can only watch as the sun rises and falls on another perfect construction day gone by the wayside.

Alberta Downs horse racing track owner Robert Allen can only watch as the sun rises and falls on another perfect construction day gone by the wayside.

And the pounding of hoof beats has fallen silent while he waits for critical environmental and building permit approvals.

It’s been a trying year for Allen, who rushed his track just outside Lacombe into operation in the spring to give harness racers a place to run, only to shut down two weeks early because of persistent frost-related problems. Before the final race days were cancelled, the track was drawing respectable crowds and generally good reviews from the harness racing crowd.

But the necessary approvals needed to finish his dream have been slow to come.

Allen said he is still waiting for Alberta Environment approval for water licences for wells and ponds on the site next to Hwy 2 just south of Hwy 12.

Those approvals are needed before a building permit will be issued by a separate agency to finish the grandstand, which stands partially constructed on the 142-acre site.

A development agreement must also be signed off with Lacombe County.

“I can’t do nothing, so I’m just sitting and waiting,” said Allen. “The process just takes that long, I guess.”

All of the necessary engineering work has been done and is in the hands of the government.

When the government issues its approvals, there will be a 30-day waiting period before he can begin any work.

“It’s just frustrating. All this good weather went by and you can’t do any construction.”

Earlier this summer, Allen talked of pursuing the Alberta Derby, an annual race for three-year-old thoroughbreds.

Before that race, the track would be put to the test with thoroughbred and quarter horse racing in late August.

“It just didn’t work out this year. I hope it’s going to work out next year. I’m sure it will.”

Allen hopes to see 50 days of racing at his track next year.

And there could still be some racing squeezed in this season. If he can get all his permits lined up, he wants to host eight days of harness racing in October.

The shell of the grandstand could go up this fall, which would give him the winter to finish the interior.

In the meantime, he’s working on landscaping. Hundreds of spruce trees have been planted.

Just Posted

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Syrian immigrants feel welcomed

Winter Social held at Festival Hall to promote multiculturalism

Small group rallies with pro-immigration message

Group wanted to counter misinformation on United Nations migration agreement

Trump says ‘things are going very well’ with North Korea

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday that “things are going very… Continue reading

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

Quebec culture minister scolds Netflix over Lac-Megantic footage in ‘Bird Box’

MONTREAL — Quebec’s culture minister has penned a letter to Netflix’s CEO… Continue reading

Canadians across the country march to end violence against women

Women and their allies participated in marches across Canada on Saturday, from… Continue reading

Former Olympian Humphries files harassment complaint with Bobsleigh Canada

CALGARY — The national governing body for bobsleigh and skeleton has confirmed… Continue reading

Fire next door to B.C. pipeline fuel tank facility under control

BURNABY, B.C. — A fire just a few hundred metres from the… Continue reading

Why some elected Wet’suwet’en councils signed agreements with Coastal GasLink

SMITHERS, B.C. — It was a difficult decision to sign a benefit… Continue reading

Most Read