NORD urged to revisit track plans

It may be a longshot but demands are growing for Kin Race Track redevelopment plans to evolve.

Members of the Okanagan Equestrian Society wants Kin Race Track to remain at its 43rd Avenue location in Vernon.

Members of the Okanagan Equestrian Society wants Kin Race Track to remain at its 43rd Avenue location in Vernon.

It may be a longshot but demands are growing for Kin Race Track redevelopment plans to evolve.

The Okanagan Equestrian Society insists most residents favour horse racing continuing at the 43rd Avenue site and opposition is strong to replacing the track with sports fields, arenas and other uses.

“The North Okanagan Regional District needs to reassess public need or want for redevelopment of this nature,” said Ed Woolley, society president.

“There is no evidence that anyone wants this.”

On Thursday, the society hosted a open house to display its concept for the site, which would include the track and other sports activities. Those who attended also had a chance to look at NORD’s plans.

“Most are in support of keeping the track as is,” said Woolley.

“They question the cost of redevelopment and they say the historical component could be lost. Our proposal would bring in a lot of the groups that would benefit from the NORD plan.”

NORD and the City of Vernon, which own the property, evicted the society Dec. 31.

The society has taken NORD and the city to court, claiming equestrian activities were guaranteed when most of the track was turned over to the city in 1964 for free. The society also claims NORD ignored an agreement for lease renewals.

Woolley doubts the regional district will back away from its redevelopment proposal.

“I anticipate we will have to go through the courts but it doesn’t hurt to bring the issue to their attention and try and get the powers-that-be to recognize this isn’t the best course of action,” he said.

Al McNiven, NORD’s parks and recreation general manager, attended Thursday’s open house.

“I heard from some that they like the regional district plan but how can you do both?” he said.

“I heard a couple of comments about the historic value of the track and a large number of people there didn’t want to see the new development plan go forward at the expense of the track.”

McNiven will look at the survey the society conducted and then pass that information on to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee board for consideration.

McNiven would not speculate on whether NORD may shift direction and move ahead with plans that include the race track.

“The whole issue is plodding along to the court case.”

A tentative court date is set for early March in New Westminster.