City extends Northlands' licence to host horse racing

Horse racing will go on at Northlands in Edmonton until the end of January 2019, six months longer than expected. City council on Tuesday agreed to allow Northlands and Horse Racing Alberta to host races at the track until next year.

Century Mile near Edmonton International Airport won't open until spring 2019

Northlands has a license to hold horseraces at its track until Jan. 31, 2019. (Northlands)

Horse racing will go on at Northlands in Edmonton until the end of January 2019, six months longer than expected.

City council agreed on Tuesday to allow Northlands and Horse Racing Alberta to host races at the track until next year. Under a previous agreement, races would cease after June 30 of this year.

The deal was made because construction of the $50-million Century Mile Racetrack and Casino near Edmonton International Airport has been delayed. Century Mile is to become the city's main horse-racing venue.

Coun. Tony Caterina said it's the second time the city has been asked to extend Northlands' licence.

"This additional extension, I don't think, was anticipated," Caterina said Tuesday.

Century Mile is run by Century Casinos, Inc. CBC requested an interview with management to explain the delays but has not had a response.

Caterina didn't know why the project is behind schedule.

"I'm not sure what that means, whether they're behind on the track or the building," he said.

This photograph showing construction progress was posted to the new racetrack's website last week. (Century Mile Racetrack and Casino)

Jeff Robillard, a spokesperson for Horse Racing Alberta, said the organization considered other options, such as moving the races to tracks in Lethbridge or Grande Prairie, but preferred to hold them in Edmonton.

After the Canadian Derby in August, the Northlands track will start running the standardbred horse events in the fall, he said.

Northlands is now set to hand over control of the race track portion of the site to the city March 31, 2019.

Northlands has been in a state of flux since before 2016 when Rogers Place opened, replacing the Coliseum as the city's main sports and entertainment venue.

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