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Affordable housing bulldozed from Vernon Kin Race Track plans

Council votes to remove housing plans by 4-3 margin; two draft concepts met with criticism
Affordable housing has been removed by Vernon council in a 4-3 vote from the future Kin Race Track plans. Two draft concepts were not well received by a majority of council. (City of Vernon photo)

Affordable housing has been removed from the future plans for Vernon’s Kin Race Track site.

City council was provided with two draft plans for the 43rd Avenue site at the regular meeting of council Monday, Jan. 24. One plan included a potential new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum in the October 2022 municipal elections, and the other was a park plaza concept.

Both plans had affordable housing on the property’s northwest side off Old Kamloops Road.

Coun. Scott Anderson, after preliminary discussions, motioned to take affordable housing out of the plans.

“I am deeply aware of the need for affordable housing and on strategic principles,” he said. “We are trying to develop all things here and I don’t think affordable housing is crucial to the success of the park. The site will be used when we go forward with it.”

Coun. Kelly Fehr said the proposed 330 units for the site for seniors and families is vitally important.

“A housing needs assessment clearly identified we have a gap in housing stock,” said Fehr. “This is significant.”

Couns. Brian Quiring, Kari Gares and Akbal Mund all said while they are proponents of affordable housing, Kin Race Track is not the site for it.

Anderson’s motion passed by a margin of 4-3 with Mayor Victor Cumming and Couns. Fehr and Teresa Durning opposed.

The plans themselves drew consternation from the majority of council who believed the site was always intended to be a recreation site with sports fields.

Neither plan includes any such fields.

Mund said while there are great ideas in the plans, the site and its future is dependent on being a sports park.

“We’ve talked about adding a third ice sheet. It’s not here,” he said. “The biggest growing sport here is volleyball. We need recreation fields that we may not have 10 years from now.”

Gares echoed Mund’s sentiment, and she also apologized to city staff for not being more clear on its directive for the plans.

“I was anticipating, as was a majority of council, a full-functioning sports complex, not just a recreation park,” she said. “It’s easier to find land to build on than to find recreational land which we have now.”

The plans presented council include such items as a swimming pond, fishing pond, trails (which will be kept), an amphitheatre, toboggan hill (which Quiring really didn’t like at all) and dog park.

Staff have been directed to add to a revamped plan hard court surfaces for basketball, pickleball and wheelchair use; a year-round covered fieldhouse for all user groups like football, rugby, volleyball and baseball; a skate park – which Coun. Gares pointed out was completely ignored in both drafts despite an overwhelming number of responses for the facility in the first public survey sent out in November and December of 2021; and two artificial turf sports fields.

Also to be included are an expansion of Kal Tire Place to the west to include a third ice surface and an outdoor skating rink.

The existing four softball diamonds are not part of the original draft plans and Gares asked that a potential for two diamonds be included.

Quiring also asked that an access to the facility at the north end off Old Kamloops Road be included.

Staff will revamp the plans and present to council for another review before engaging the public in a second round of discussion.

READ MORE: Vernon council defers discussions on Kin Race Track plans

READ MORE: City of Vernon reminded of Kinsmen Park stipulation

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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