After an appeal made by the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, the appeal has been denied and plans to build a new speedway in Fort Erie, Ontario are to continue as planned.
“It’s been a long time and a long journey and we’re finally glad the decision has come forward,” Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin told the Fort Erie Times. “Our next step is meeting with Azhar (Mohammad, executive director of the speedway) to get his team together and the documents together to move forward with the project and put shovels in the ground.”
The OMB decision stated the environmental group Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (PALS) “has not made out a convincing and compelling case — or, indeed, any case — that (OMB vice-chair Susan de Avellar) Schiller violated the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness.”
PALS originally made their case in wanting to keep the land for agricultural use and not for a mega $400 million project.
The plans include a one mile oval that is being designed by Jeff Gordon and Paxton Waters. Waters designed Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway just to name a few.
In speaking with Gordon’s father-in-law John Bickford earlier this year, he said that Gordon has wanted a race in Canada since going to Japan for an exhibition race in 1998. Gordon also questioned the trip to Mexico, continuing to ask for that race. When he learned that there was no facility available, that is when the project began.
“Jeff has always wanted to come to Canada,” Bickford said. “He and I were here in 1989/1990. We’ve always been big supporters. Canadian race fans have supported Jeff throughout his entire career. So I think the idea of giving back is an important component. We’re just advocates of giving back to the Canadian race fans and we’re not giving up.”
Canadian fans have proven their dedication in the past, with the attendance at events in the United States being made up of 10-20% Canadians.
A 821-acre property has been purchased just west of the Queen Elizabeth Way. The plan calls for a grandstand could seat up to 100,000 people, a one-mile oval track, 2.5-mile road course and other facilities. One of those facilities is a research and development centre overseen by McMaster University.
Once the track is built though, the plan is to get the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to travel cross the border. Within a year of having it built, they want to get the Nationwide Series up here, and then catterpult that into getting the Cup stars on the one mile oval.