Some barns dating back at least five decades are being demolished at the Charlottetown Driving Park to make way for a state-of-the-art barn that will house 120 horses in a $2-million project being funded by horse owners along with the federal and provincial governments.
One barn has been torn down and a part of another will also go. When the new facility is completed by next June, six other barns will be demolished and replaced with a new parking lot. During the construction phase of the project, horses will still be stabled in the old buildings and that will minimize the impact on the horses.
Colleen Dickie, president of the P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owners Association, said in an interview Wednesday the new facility will make the CDP among the top tracks in the region
The new barn will have 120 stalls, which is the total number in the old barns. In total the CDP houses more than 200 horses in barns spread around the property.
“A lot of the old barns were not built for winter stabling and, in fact, the last two near Riverside Drive were summer shed rows. And as the horse population increased they needed to be somewhat winterized. But they were never built to be permanent stabling for horses,” Dickie said.
This project has been in the planning stage for about one year, but a new facility has been needed for years, Dickie said.
“If you go into the old barns there is poor lighting, poor ventilation, they are cold and are not healthy for the people or the horses.”
The new facility will have new wash stalls, tack and storage rooms and much better ventilation. Dickie said that poor ventilation was a major problem with the old barns because it led to mould and mildew, which can play havoc on the horses’ respiratory systems.
Dickie said that $1.5 million for the project came from the federal and provincial governments and the horse owners got a bank loan for the remainder.
Besides horses there is a population of barn cats at the CDP that have made the barns their home for years. In many cases, these strays are cared for by the horse owners and other people at the track.
The P.E.I. Humane Society plans to have someone visit the track and see if their help is required.
“We have not had any calls or concerns about the cats at the race track during the construction period, but one of our animal protection officers is going to go by the property and have a chat with the folks who are running the construction to make sure there is a plan in place for the cats,” said Kelly Mullaly, executive director of the P.E.I. Humane Society.