Equestrian Society loses to Vernon in track battle

Politician says the new decision will be what to do with the land

A long running battle over Kin Race Track has Vernon in the lead.

The City of Vernon and the Okanagan Equestrian Society have been in a legal battle over Kin Park, which includes the horse racing track, for years. But a judgment was finally issued Tuesday.

See related: No decision yet on Kin Race Track

“The short version: the city won,” states Vernon Coun. Scott Anderson.

In his reasons for judgment, Justice Michael Tammen states: “Hopefully, with this judgment, the defendants (City of Vernon) can commence to make better use of the land.”

Maria Besso with the Equestrian Society says the group is currently reviewing the decision and evaluating options.

“I’m shocked and sad but we did lose, we tried our hardest but I guess it wasn’t enough,” said Besso.

The legal battle has been drawn out since before 2010 when the society was evicted from Kin Race Track and then took the city to court. Final arguments from the City of Vernon and the Okanagan Equestrian Society were presented in a New Westminster court Sept. 28 and 29, 2017.

“I do not know why this case took more than 10 years to get to trial,” said Tammen.

In the meantime, the grounds have fallen victim to vandalism and arson.

See related: Fire destroys Kin Race Track grandstand

The ruling is based on some of this, as the society was seeking special damages costs.

”I should comment on the evidence of damage to the horse stalls said to have been caused by the City in 2016, when the stable doors were removed. I heard viva voce evidence about this damage, and also received photographic evidence of it, as well as other damage to the racetrack rails. There was significant evidence concerning the general state of disrepair into which the defendants have permitted the entire facility to fall since the 2014 fire.”

Tammen continues to state: “I cannot find any compensable damages owing to the plaintiffs by the defendants occasioned by any of the events post-2014. I decline to make any award of damages under this heading.”

President Robyn Dalziel could not be reached for comment, but she did make an announcement Thursday that there is a renewed interest in horse racing in Vernon.

“The Interior Horse Racing Association is very interested in resurrecting horse racing at the race tracks located in Vernon, Osoyoos, Princeton, Kamloops and Williams Lake,” said Dalziel.

A meeting is scheduled for May 26 at 1 p.m. at the Elks Hall in Vernon.

“We would like to hold a meeting to gain input from everyone interested in a return to racing in the Interior,” Dalziel continues. “We are basically starting from scratch and need the breeders and all interested parties to join in the conversation, we need new people and new ideas.”

Meanwhile, with the city claiming a win in the legal battle, Anderson says the new issue is deciding what to do with the former racetrack property.


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