ALD. MCIVER Predicts close vote on motion to extend Race City lease

January 20, 2009
Race City events like these could be thing of past after 2010

The report on Race City requested by Ald. Ric McIver goes before City Council January 26. Ald. McIver’s motion calls for an extension of Race City’s lease to at least 2015. He says the vote will be close and race fans need to lobby their aldermen to make sure the motion passes.

“I expect it to be a close vote on Monday on extending the lease,” he said. “I hope my colleagues see the wisdom in giving them some time to find another location to operate. And also the wisdom in providing a safe place to race cars and also keep a tourist attraction going.”

If Council chooses not to extend the lease, Ald. McIver says Race City will have to vacate the property in 2010. Since a municipal election will be held that year, Ald. McIver says Race City could become an election issue.

“I think this will be an election issue if this (the lease extension) gets turned down. The racing community is large and active and I’m sure they will take note of which way members of Council vote,” Ald. McIver said.

Art Mackenzie, Race City owner
If Councils votes against a lease extension, Race City owner Art Mackenzie says he will seriously consider suing the City of Calgary. Mr. Mackenzie claims City Hall’s action have already caused businesses losses for his company because the impending closure of the facility has made it very difficult to obtain sponsorships or schedule events.

Mr. Mackenzie’s dispute with the City centres around a lease extension signed in 1993. The original lease ran from 1985 to 2005. The extension ran until 2025. According to Mr. Mackenzie, City Hall bureaucrats have told him that he “never acted upon the extension,” meaning the lease ran out in 2005. Since then he has supposedly been “over-holding” the lease.

Mr. Mackenzie says he has been told by City Hall that Race City continuing to occupy the property on the southeast outskirts of the city is “inconvenient” to the department of waste services, which must find a location for a storm water retention pond for the Shepard Landfill.

“I find that a frustrating word. Basically, it’s inconvenient for a bureaucrat to have to change plans or think a little bit about what they’re doing. But maybe it’s really inconvenient for several thousand people that use the race track directly or come and watch events,” he said.

All Race City matters before Council are now in camera, which means the discussion is closed to the public. Administration officials have also deemed that any matters relating to Race City, including background studies and reports, are also in camera and cannot be discussed in public.

Ald. McIver is not sure when the report will be made public. If the City is still negotiating with Race City after Jan. 26, which seems likely, he says the report will remain in camera until the legal issues are resolved.

Without Race City, popular events like the junior dragsters would have no place to race.

“My notice of motion says I want the City to extend the lease for Race City at least until 2015…under the original terms and conditions. I know there’s an argument about whether they put their renewal in on time, but just based on the fact that having Race City around is good for the city and citizens of Calgary I think we should be willing and able and anxious to overlook that,” Ald. McIver said.

Both Ald. McIver and Mr. Mackenzie called upon the motorsport community to call, write and email their aldermen to express their support for an extension of Race City’s lease

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