Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Vancouver City Council


Director of Current Planning in consultation with the General Manager of Parks and Recreation, Director of Real Estate Services, Director of Legal Services and Director of Social Planning


Revised Arrangements for the Pacific Racing Association for the Racetrack at Hastings Park





In January 1990, City Council approved that Hastings Park be restored to predominantly park use. In March 1997, both City Council and Park Board approved the Hastings Park Restoration Plan, which includes upgrading and continuation of the Racetrack for the foreseeable future as part of the restored park.

In January 1994, the city leased the Racetrack on Hastings Park to the Pacific Racing Association (PRA) for a 5-year term with an option to renew for a term of 20 years. In December 1998, the terms of renewal could not be agreed upon and the lease expired. Accordingly, the PRA is currently on a month-to-month tenancy at the Racetrack.

In June 1999, City Council approved terms for an Operating Agreement for the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) to use Hastings Park, except the Racetrack area. In December 1999, City Council approved terms for an Operating Agreement and a related building lease of the Grandstand building for the PRA to use the Racetrack. Both the agreement and lease are in the process of being negotiated by the Director of Legal Services.


The purpose of this report is to consider proposed amendments requested by the PRA to the general terms of the PRA Operating Agreement and lease for the Racetrack. These proposals come as a result of the PRA appointing a new General Manager and his review of the previously agreed- upon terms in light of the changing financial circumstances of the PRA.

The terms previously agreed upon in December 1999, as abstracted from the report of that time, are attached as Appendix A.


Park Restoration and Principles: Hastings Park restoration is well underway and will continue in phases as funding is available, encompassing most of the south half of the park through 2005. Some time after 2005, the park restoration area will be extended on a north/south axis across the Racetrack site to tie in with New Brighton Park and the waterfront to the north. The Racetrack is maintained in this final park configuration with reconfiguration of its facilities, especially the stables complex. To reconcile the park restoration plan with continued use of the park by the PNE and PRA, a set of basic principles was framed in 1999, as listed in Appendix B. These principles remain fully relevant.

PRA's Current Circumstances: The PRA's income from the Racetrack has been decreasing significantly over the last several years and a significant further decrease has been projected by the PRA for this year.

The Provincial Government recently announced it will rebate back to the horse industry, standardbred and thoroughbred, the 7% mutual tax. The ultimate effect on the bottom line of the PRA is unclear. At this time the only known additional direct contribution to the PRA is $700,000 per annum to pay a Provincial Government loan that was not being paid by the PRA. Increased purses and a million-dollar advertising campaign should, over time, increase patronage, betting and the financial picture of the PRA.

The racing industry is changing, both in terms of consolidation and integration with other forms of gaming and entertainment. For a variety of reasons, the PRA has not changed its format at the Racetrack, in some measure because of the limitations in their previous lease and the current terms for their new Operating Agreement.

In response to its current difficulties, the PRA recently brought on a new General Manager and is reviewing all aspects of its operations. The new General Manager, Mr. Phil Heard, has indicated to staff that he is generating a strategy to turn the Racetrack situation around over the next three years. If successful, the revitalized Racetrack operation will continue for the foreseeable future, as envisaged in the Hastings Park Restoration Plan; if not successful, the PRA will, at that time, have to make fundamental decisions about their future with the Racetrack.

As part of a revitalization strategy, an initiative appears underway that could see close links or an amalgam between the PRA and the Ontario Jockey Club (OJC). This OJC initiative under the most desirable scenario, as explained to staff by the PRA, would see the OJC buying both the thoroughbred operation at Hastings Park and the standardbred operation at Cloverdale.


Mr. Heard has requested the following changes to the previously approved terms of the proposed PRA Operating Agreement and building lease for the Racetrack. It is understood that all other terms and agreements for the Operating Agreement as approved by City Council in December 1999 do not change.

In each case, the PRA's proposed revised term will be outlined along with their rationale, the previously agreed-upon term will be outlined, and a staff commentary and recommendation will be provided.

· Time Frame: The PRA's proposed revised time frame for the Operating Agreement and building lease would be three years.

· Fee: The PRA proposes that a revised fee and lease rent be fixed at $250,000 per year for the three-year term of the Operating Agreement. The PRA also proposes that no further fee/rent be paid this year pending reconsideration of this term.

· Gaming: The PRA proposes that the City remove restrictions on some forms of gaming and to review how this is accepted after one year. The gaming activities requested by the PRA to be allowed are: BC Lottery Corporation lottery terminals (to sell lottery tickets), KENO, BINGO hall, and, possibly, an electronic horse racing video game. Initially, slot machines were verbally requested but have not been included in this proposal.

· Other Uses: The PRA proposes that the City remove limitations on certain business activities beyond horse racing. The business activities requested by the PRA to be allowed are: weddings and wedding photography, outdoor `show-and-shine' shows, recreation vehicle shows and sales, car shows, seminars and speeches, conventions, dances, movie studios and sporting events in the infield. Also proposed is flexibility to investigate business operations not related to horse racing or gaming including a micro brewery, a movie complex or other entertainment venues.

· Parking: The PRA proposes that they be given control of a parking lot and whoever controls other parking be required to consult the PRA on rates and times.

· Childcare: The PRA proposes to withdraw from participation in the creation of a new childcare centre for the area and, therefore, to amend the terms to delete references to that childcare centre. The PRA would support that the existing temporary childcare centre be continued under current arrangements as long as it is licensed and viable but the PRA will not extend it in any way. If the temporary childcare centre closes, the PRA says it will ban children from their stabling area (the `backstretch').


As a result of the PRA's proposed amendments to the terms of the Operating Agreement and building lease, the most current drafts prepared by the Director of Legal Services must be significantly re-written. Of the amendments proposed by the PRA, in summary, staff recommend:

This should give the PRA significant latitude to revamp their financial arrangements and operations so as to ensure their continued operation of the Racetrack on Hastings Park.

On this basis, the Director of Legal Services, in consultation with the Director of Current Planning and the General Manager of Parks and Recreation, will prepare the final form of Operating Agreement with the PRA for signature by the City Manager.

* * * * *



General Mgr./Dept. Head:


This report has been prepared in consultation with the departments listed to the right, and they concur with its contents

Report dated:

September 27, 2000


L. Beasley



Concurring Departments:

Director of Legal Services

General Manager of Parks & Recreation

Manager of Real Estate

Director of Social Planning


Comments or questions? You can send us email.
[City Homepage] [Get In Touch]

(c) 1998 City of Vancouver