8. August 2012 11:53
To be honest, when I first heard about the Provincial Government’s decision to cancel the successful “Slots at Racetrack Programme,” I didn’t think much of it at all. I didn’t know much about the racing industry, and never realized just how significant the trickle down effect to Ontario’s local economies would be. After attending a public meeting on May 29 hosted by the County of Wellington, I realized just how devastating this decision will be not only for the horse racing industry, but for local economies as well.
I sat and listened for over two hours as one by one concerned members of the public went up to the microphone and shared very personal stories of how this decision will make a dramatic impact on their lives. People from all walks of life got up and shared heartfelt thoughts and legitimate concerns. We heard from racers, breeders, veterinarians, trainers, farmers, local business owners, racetrack employees, stall cleaning staff, University of Guelph professors and representatives from the Ontario Equestrian Federation and the Sunrise Therapeutic Riding and Learning Centre.
The County’s original intent was to create a written report with all the public comments, include financial statistics and send it to every member of Provincial Parliament, urging them to revisit this decision. Listening to the all the comments inspired me to create this short documentary. A strong visual can have a lot of impact. In my position, I have the ability to reach the masses and I really wanted to help share the stories of hard working Ontarians who feel helpless and are fearful of their future. Many of the people I spoke with during the making of this film have been in the horse racing industry for their whole lives. It’s all they know. The horse racing industry is their life.
The film is not political. I knew that if I created a politically charged piece it wouldn’t be taken seriously and potentially the important message would be lost. I want the Provincial Government and the media to watch it. I want to keep this issue at the forefront. Thousands of jobs are at risk. Small businesses are at risk. Horses are at risk. I hope people watch the film, share it with others and contact their Member of Provincial Parliament asking them to “Restore the Programme.”
The County premiered the film on July 31 at The Bookshelf Cinema in Guelph, Ontario for media, horse racing industry people and political dignitaries. Following the premiere, the film will be posted on YouTube and www.wellington.ca. The “Restore the Programme” documentary is a County of Wellington initiative. Andrea Ravensdale produced the film and the footage was shot by Ironcloud Productions.
Guest Blogger: Andrea Ravensdale, Communications Manager, County of Wellington