Pitch made for local horse racing

Coldstream council wants province to focus on Kin Race Track

Just as the races are set to burst through the gates Sunday, support is being called for Canada’s oldest horse racing track.

Coldstream is pushing to increase the purse for Kin Race Track, which hosts Vernon Race Days Sunday at noon.

Coldstream is hopeful the Regional District of North Okanagan will get on board by requesting a meeting with Community Development Minister Bill Bennett at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September.

“We have the oldest race track in Canada, it’s been here for 120 years,” said Coun. Maria Besso, who initiated the request.

With a bigger purse attracting more racers, Besso says more thoroughbred racing days could take place at the track.

“This would benefit the entire region.”

Besso also wants the government to acknowledge that there is a racetrack in the Interior.

She points to a December 2012 government  press release regarding funding increases for tracks. The release states: “British Columbia has two racing tracks: Hastings Park and Fraser Downs.”

“There are more than just two horse racing tracks in B.C.,” said Besso.

But considering the legal battle at the track, one Coldstream councillor isn’t comfortable supporting something with an uncertain future.

Coun. Pat Cochrane was the lone opponent to Coldstream’s lobbying efforts, saying that the City of Vernon may just end up taking away the track and put a sheet of ice over it.

The legal dispute is a result of RDNO and the city, which own the 43rd Avenue property, evicting the Okanagan Equestrian Society, which operates races, in 2010.

The society claims equestrian activities were guaranteed when most of the track was turned over to the city in 1964 for free. The society also alleges the regional district ignored an agreement for lease renewals.

The regional district has compiled a draft redevelopment plan for the site, including sports fields, two arenas, a BMX track, a gymnastics facility and trails.