Fort Erie council shows support for speedway

By Sarah Ferguson, Fort Erie Times

Fort Erie council is revving up support for the Canadian Motor Speedway by making the success of the project a priority.

Councillors endorsed the project Monday night by passing a resolution that recognizes the $15 million investment made to date on the pre-development of the speedway.

The resolution also calls for the Region to reconsider including the Canadian Motor Speedway as a priority in the Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Community Improvement Plan program , allowing tax incentives for the project for 10 years.

Mayor Wayne Redekop said the development of the speedway is an important economic driver for Fort Erie which is why he felt it was important for council let Niagara Region staff know the development is a priority for the town.  

The resolution passed by council is similar to a resolution Fort Erie representative Sandy Annunziata will present to Regional Council later this month.

Annunziata said it’s time to stop talking about the speedway and help bring it to fruition.

“We are formalizing a strategic plan to make (the speedway) happen,” he said.

“We’ve dealt with most of the show stoppers including challenges from the (Ontario Municipal Board),” Azhar Mohammad, the speedway’s executive director said about the challenges faced by the development.

“One of the biggest issues we are facing is with the Ministry of Transportation with respect to the Bowen Road interchange.

Mohammad said the province wants to upgrade the Queen Elizabeth Way overpass to four lanes, instead of two.

“The issue is the MTO would like us to build a four-lane interchange at Bowen Road and would like us to pay for it,” Mohammad said.

“The cost is $38 million. We are not here to build interchanges,” he added.

Mohammad believes a two-lane overpass “is sufficient” to manage future traffic from the speedway.

He said a third party has been hired to study traffic along the interchange and the information will be presented to the MTO.

Mohammad said the development’s investors are Emirates Consulting from the United Arab Emirates and The International Investor from Kuwait.

The proposed development, which will include a stadium with an initial capacity of 65,000 seats, represents the largest foreign direct investment in tourism in Ontario since 1981. There is a potential $400 million in direct, private sector investment and an estimated $450 million in economic impact from development and construction, including up to 1,100 direct and indirect jobs and $890 million in labour earnings.

The Canadian Motor Speedway will be built on 821 acres of land along the QEW near Bowen Road and Gilmore Road.


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