A group of Truro businessmen are offering to provide management advice and some financial assistance to help the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition, which operates the Truro Raceway, get its financial house in order.
TRURO - An entirely new management system is required in order for the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition (NSPE) to put its financial house in order, a Truro businessman and longtime horse racing proponent says.
"I have been successful in managing business in Truro, I was successful in managing the raceway in 1979 at 19 years old (until 1984) and I can put the right people in place to put this place back on its feet," Brent MacGrath, the co-owner and trainer of Somebeachsomewhere," told Colchester County council Thursday night.
"It is a system that has worked in the past, it is a system that is close to the system that was put in originally over there that did work for 70-odd years. I worked under it," he said, regarding a management chart he proposed to council.
MacGrath said he and four other successful Truro businessmen, along with a local actuary, are prepared to work on a business proposal for the county, the Town of Truro, the Village of Bible Hill and provincial officials to consider.
Currently the NSPE commission consists of 10 volunteer members who oversee management of the exhibition grounds and Truro Raceway. A paid general manager and several other staff are also involved in the running of the facility.
The chart provided by MacGrath, however, proposes a commission consisting of five seats, involving one representative each from the province, the county, the federation, Town of Truro and the Village of Bible Hill.
The body would serve as landowner of the property and be responsible for hiring a general manager and approving budgets.
Below them, would be seven to nine members consisting of horse racing professionals, agricultural professionals and business professionals. That group would also work closely with the general manager who would be responsible for day-to-day operations and overseeing staff and sub committee work.
Three sub committees, representing the raceway, the exhibition and concert interests, are also proposed.
While acknowledging that the NSPE, which is more than $1 million in debt and which has been declared insolvent in a financial review, has deep issues, MacGrath said if his group is given a chance, he believes it can offer a financial proposal that will make the facility profitable.
"But I believe that if we put a structure in place like this, give us the information that we've been asking for since the announcement that they were closing racing, I think within ... 60 to 90 days we will have a proposal that the town, the county, province and the village will accept, buy into, and we put the right in people in place and hopefully go on our merry way ..."
Under his proposal, all existing board members would have to resign.
MacGrath also told council he wanted to quash rumours he has heard about ulterior motives for his interest in the facility.
"I have heard that our interest is in the land," he said, adding the group's interest is solely in trying to help the overall facility become profitable while maintaining live horse racing at the site.
"Our interest is not in the land, we do not want to sit on the commission at all," he said.