Garry Rehbein of Blacks Welding in Lacombe works on building a set of safety stairs that will be mounted on the north end of the grandstand building at Alberta Downs Race Track south west of Lacombe. Various upgrades to the building are being done to meet fire safety codes before racing begins this spring.

Safety code violations shutter Alberta Downs

The horses at the Alberta Downs Racetrack may be off to a late start. The Lacombe racetrack will not open on May 3 unless a laundry list of safety code violations are brought up to standard.

The horses at the Alberta Downs Racetrack may be off to a late start.

The Lacombe racetrack will not open on May 3 unless a laundry list of safety code violations are brought up to standard.

Fred Millar, Lacombe Regional Fire Services co-ordinator, said owner Bob Allen was given a letter explaining that he would not be allowed to operate until he fixed the problems with the facility in March.

The letter followed a safety code inspection prompted by complaints in September that the facility was not safe.

“He is working with us,” said Millar. “I don’t know when it will be fixed. I don’t know if he has done enough that Municipal Affairs will let him open.”

Millar said Alberta Municipal Affairs is handling the file because of the issues with the building. Millar said there is not a deadline for the work to be completed but there was end date for responding to the letter, which Allen has done.

Allen said it is all hands on deck for the repairs, including drywalling, fixing hand railings, improving lighting and installing a fire alarm system. Millar said there is no deadline for the work to be completed but there was end date for responding to the letter, which he has done.

Allen was also told to put in a fire escape in front of the grandstand.

“I’ve been working feverishly to fix everything,” said Allen. “I’ve done everything they have asked . . . I am happy that I have done that because my place is better now. It’s a nice place and it’s going to be nicer.”

He has also hired an architect and an engineer to help guide him in the process.

The track hosts about 59 race days during the May-to-October season. The dirt all-weather track hosts thoroughbred, quarter horse and harness racing during the season.

Opening day is slated for May 3.

“I have to open,” said Allen. “There are thousands of jobs that depend on me. This isn’t a little thing in the order. Thousands of people depend on us.”

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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