The head of North-West greyhound racing says there are no plans to move race meetings away from the Devonport Showground to make way for a proposed $75 million housing development unveiled last week. North West Greyhound Racing Club chairwoman Robyn Johnson said it could devastate the North-West greyhound industry, which contributes to the economy and is part of the community. She said there was no other viable site for greyhound racing in the region, where half the state's industry was based. "It's a battle we're willing to fight," Mrs Johnson said. She was speaking about a lease dispute between the purchaser of the showground and Tasracing, which could escalate into a legal battle if not resolved. Tasracing maintains it has a valid lease to conduct harness and greyhound meetings at the showground until 2040. Mrs Johnson said the racing industry just recently undertook track improvements at the site during the Covid down period and there were development plans to look at accommodating more dog groups at the site. "We're looking at options for other dog activities to be held here," she said trackside as Tuesday's greyhound meeting was underway. "There are grants that could be accessed to make this into a community showpiece for other dog owners to come and use it too. There are lots of dog groups and things we could do to keep it a community facility. In the meantime, we're maintaining our infrastructure until the lease is sorted." However, Melbourne developer Simon Want said Tasracing did not have a lease. He said Tasracing had a "month-to-month license" to use the showground. Mr Want said that there was no reason the housing redevelopment could not proceed at the showground as far as he was concerned. Mr Want paid a deposit to buy the century-old showground from the Devonport Agricultural and Pastoral Society, which no longer holds its annual show. The sale contract is due for completion at the end of 2021. A war of words over the use of the showground resumed last week after Mr Want unveiled plans for a 200-lot mixed-housing precinct with aged care facilities, supported housing, a medical centre and public parkland with a central lake. Mrs Johnson said Mr Want doesn't own the showground as DAPS still owned the site. "Mr Want has paid a deposit, but he doesn't own it," Mrs Johnson said. "There is a lease, the lease is current, and as a buyer, you find out that information then decide whether or not you purchase the property, that to me is a normal process." Mr Want said he was happy for Tasracing to produce the lease it said it had. "Why would you show the lease to someone who doesn't own the property?" Mrs Johnson said. "We've talked to Tasracing the lawyers have looked at the lease, and the lease is current. He's buying the property with the lease. If he doesn't think there's a lease, then that's okay, and he progresses with his plans, but our position is we've got a lease because we're part of Tasracing and we're here until 2040. "DAPS can sell, but whoever owns the property, we have a lease to be here. Like a football field where people want to play football, we've got a racetrack here, and we want to race our animals here. "All the buildings we utilise have all been kept in working order and have all had maintenance completed." Mrs Johnson said the racing sector contributes to the economy. She said she did not know how many jobs the industry created in the region. "We're here as a sporting industry that brings a lot of money into the town," she said. "Those coming in will often pick up something, and the amount of fuel we use is significant. We travel the state, and everyone fills up at the bowser going out." She said it was not feasible to move greyhound racing to the Burnie harness track as it was too far for trainers outside the region to travel. "The Devonport Showground track is good for training pups and people come from all over to train pups here," she said. "We can't move to Burnie because the track is not suitable; it's too tight for greyhounds. There's not enough room at the Spreyton racetrack, and the cost of relocation is astronomical. At Spreyton, you would need to expand by taking some of the training area off the thoroughbreds, and some grandstand space to fit a greyhound track." Mrs Johnson said that instead of the moving race meetings away from an existing race track, the housing development could happen elsewhere. "It would be great for East Devonport where the council could rezone somewhere for it to happen," she said. "There are opportunities at the showground that have not been realised." Nationally, greyhound racing has had to overcome animal cruelty claims in recent years. In Tassie it was still recovering from the 10-week shutdown and dealing with an outbreak of canine coronavirus. "The fact we're still here shows our strength and resilience as an industry," Mrs Johnson said. "We've made changes, and our dogs' wellbeing and health are paramount in our minds as well as the wellbeing and mental health of our people. We've got an elderly group within our cohort who come to meetings for a conversation, and we look out for each other. IN OTHER NEWS: "The North West greyhound fraternity is a supportive community of people who are passionate about their dogs." Meantime, Mr Want called for talks to resolve the lease matter. He said the mayor had offered to facilitate the talks. "Tasracing is not answering my phone calls," he said. "It's not paying DAPS a commercial rent to use the showground and I have not seen anything to say Tasracing has a right to be there. They do not have tenure, so the question is why does Tasracing believe it can be there for 20 years? "We presented a clear plan for the showground and we asked the community what it wants. "The next step is having a conversation, which is an open and transparent discussion about how to resolve this matter. Rather than fight, let's get all parties around the table to work out the best solution to achieve a win, win, win situation." Mr Want said the next five weeks would be spent consulting with the community on the plan before submitting the rezoning application with the council. Why not pick up a subscription to The Advocate? Sign up here.