Supporters of the Canadian Motor Speedway are hoping the Town of Fort Erie will give the project its full endorsement at Monday's council-in-committee meeting.
If approved by the local government, the project will still need to be given the green light by the regional government at its next meeting on Dec. 9th.
Normally, council meetings are held in the council chambers at town hall but because a large crowd is anticipated, the Leisureplex banquet hall will be the venue. Before the council session begins, a group of supporters will be found at the Quarter Mile Restaurant and Sports Bar on Garrison Road, who plan on marching to the meeting in hopes of seeing council voting in favour of the speedway, to be built on 823 acres of land adjacent to the QEW between Bowen and Gilmore Roads. To date, $150 million has been spent by the project's investor, Emirates Consulting, a subsidiary of the Kuwaiti Investment Bank. The build-out could be expanded to about $400 million considering the commercial, industrial and educational uses the facility will have. McMaster University has agreed to build and operate a research and development centre at the site if it is approved by both the municipal and regional governments by the end of next week.
Ed Moody, who refers to himself as a "retired motorsports historian" says this project is what the Canadian auto-racing industry has been waiting for. Although he has just recently moved to Greater Fort Erie, he feels his new place of residence will become an area visited by tourists even more than what it already is.
"If this speedway is approved, there will be a lot of people attracted to the area," said Moody, who spent many years as a freelance motor sports writer for Sun Media and worked at Mosport Speedway in Bowmanville since the 1960's.
He feels there isn't enough people addressing the "mistruths" that have appeared in local newspapers. One submission suggests there will be out of control tailgate parties that will continue until the early hours of the morning after a race event. He finds this hard to believe and says "someone is confusing a football game with a car race."
Reminiscing about the Crystal Beach Amusement Park era, Moody said this was a time when people travelled from all over Ontario and parts of the U.S. to visit Fort Erie. He feels there hasn't been anything to attract people from outside the area other than the Fort Erie Racetrack, since the Crystal Beach park closed in 1989. He referred to the historic family venue as a reason for people to visit Fort Erie for entertainment. At the same time, he feels it was also a reason for residents to stay in Fort Erie because of the employment opportunities it offered, especially for young students hoping to fund their post-secondary education.
"That's exactly what is going to come with this speedway," he said.
Mayor Doug Martin made a similar comment, saying if the speedway is approved many students will be able to find employment right in their backyard, saving up for their futures.
"This is a place for students to work in the summer to save enough money to go to university," said Martin.
The mayor will not be present at the meeting as he will be travelling to Switzerland for a discussion on refugees, hosted by the United Nations. Even though he will not be there, he says it is still very important to "hear from everybody," which includes people opposed to the project, people in support of it and those who will be directly impacted by it.
"And you also have those looking at this as an opportunity for employment while putting Fort Erie on the map," said Martin.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 15 people have registered to make a delegation at the council-in-committee meeting. Anyone wishing to join this list, in opposition or in support of the project have until Monday at 3 p.m. to speak at the meeting which will be chaired by acting mayor and Ward 1 Coun. Sandy Annunziata.
The rally at the Quarter Mile is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. and will include a free BBQ for those in attendance.
A Facebook group at has also been an outlet for showing support with almost 4,000 users of the social networking site as members.
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