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Details sketchy but raceway moving forward

Horses were jogging in the sunshine at Truro Raceway on Friday.
Horses were jogging in the sunshine at Truro Raceway on Friday. - Lynn Curwin

Former employees being pressed back into service as plans begin to take shape

BIBLE HILL, N.S. More than half of the staff who lost their jobs at the Truro Raceway and with the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission (NSPEC) have been rehired, an official says.

Steve Morton, president of the Truro Harness Horse Owners Association, said nine of the 17 employees recently terminated when the provincial government separated the NSPEC and raceway operations have been hired back by his association.

Those jobs include race secretary, a bookkeeper, a maintenance person and two local individuals involved with pari-mutuel betting. Two other pari-mutuel betting employees at an off-site location in Sackville and two at the Halifax casino have also been rehired.

“We’re doing as well as we can in the circumstances. As we go through the financial situation we’ll make our decision as to who we can hire and who we can’t,” Morton said.

“But if we are able to hire all the people back, we will do that.”

All 17 employees were given severance pay when they received their permanent layoff notices. Morton said everything with the separation of the two facilities is still in a transition stage with many details yet to be finalized.

New NSPEC manager Darrelyn Hubley could not immediately be contacted for information on future staffing plans at that facility.

After carrying a debtload of a million dollars for the past number of years and ongoing expenses of $20,000 per week, Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell recently separated the two facilities as a way to create a “fresh start” for both operations. The horse owners’ association is leasing the track and barns from the NSPEC for $200 per month and is entirely responsible for maintaining those operations.

The NSPEC, meanwhile, is under the control of the provincial government. The regular race season does not begin until April, however, Morton said he expects pari-mutuel betting will be available again in the near future.

“It’s not going to be a long fix. I’m waiting on the government (to finalize the legal process),” he said.

“It’s just business as usual. Hopefully we’ll be able to get back into the grandstand in a short period of time and have things up and going. And hopefully everything will work out.”

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