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.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

One strong wind leaves years of replanting work for Red Deer parks staff

High visibility boulevards already replanted, neighbourhood work starts next year

Red Deer-area indigenous filmmakers invited to apply for $20,000 grant

Storyhive launches Indigenous Storyteller Edition

Restaurant closed after compliance team patrol

Public Safety Compliance Team checked eight bars and restaurants on Oct. 19

Red Deerians await local cannabis stores

So far 31 stores in Alberta awarded licence to operate

Rimbey RCMP seek missing man with health concerns

Has anyone seen Bill Harris of Ponka County?

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Local Sports: Rudy Soffo valuable to Kings on the court

When Rudy Soffo first saw the RDC basketball Kings roster he was… Continue reading

Except for 1 kick, Saints, Ravens are evenly matched

BALTIMORE — In a matchup between the league’s highest-scoring offence and top-ranked… Continue reading

Julia Louis-Dreyfus gets a top award for comedy

WASHINGTON — After a 35-year acting career and with two iconic television… Continue reading

Ricky Skaggs, Dottie West enter Country Music Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE — Bluegrass and country star Ricky Skaggs, singer Dottie West and… Continue reading

AP Exclusive: Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

LONDON — Stephen Hawking was a cosmic visionary, a figure of inspiration… Continue reading

Canada deemed U.S. a safe country for asylum seekers after internal review

OTTAWA — Canadian immigration officials have determined that the United States remains… Continue reading

Bombardier sues Mitsubishi over alleged theft of aircraft trade secrets

MONTREAL — Bombardier is suing Mitsubishi Aircraft in the United States over… Continue reading

Three strong earthquakes reported in Pacific Ocean off Vancouver Island

Three relatively strong earthquakes were recorded Sunday night in the Pacific Ocean… Continue reading

Most Read