Racing Days forced to clear grandstand hurdle

Activities at Kin Race Track hang in the balance as use of key infrastructure remains in doubt

Activities at Kin Race Track hang in the balance as use of key infrastructure remains in doubt.

The Okanagan Equestrian Society is scrambling after electrical deficiencies were pointed out in the grandstand.

“We can’t use the electricity in the grandstand until it’s brought up to code,” said Ed Woolley, spokesperson for the society, which hosts Vernon Racing Days at the track annually.

When asked if the building has been condemned, Woolley said, “I don’t know if that’s the official word to use.”

Four races are scheduled for this summer, and the grandstand is vital because it consists of the viewing area, washrooms and judge’s area.

“We also need to have betting machines and we would then need a temporary location with another source of electricity,” said Woolley.

“We could do it (races) without the grandstand but it would be difficult.”

The society has received quotes to upgrade the electricity, but the bill could be about $15,000.

“We should be able to get it up and running by the time of the races,” said Woolley.

The society became aware of electrical issues after the City of Vernon took over responsibility for the site from the Regional District of North Okanagan.

“Our staff called the B.C. Safety Authority and they were told to pull the (hydro) meters,” said Brett Bandy, the city’s real estate manager.

“We can’t turn the electrical on until the issues are addressed,” said Bandy, adding, though, that if there’s no electrical current, the structure can be accessed.

“Yes they can use it if they want to be responsible for it (liability)”

There are other issues of concern, including some rotten beams.

“We want to make sure the public is safe,” said Bandy.

The city owns the property, but Woolley insists the society has been left responsible for upgrades.

“We’re the ones who want to use it,” he said, adding that local government used to provide maintenance funds.

“General maintenance would have been done over the years but we don’t have the $10,000 to $15,000 a year that was scheduled to have come from the regional district. They stopped paying that during the legal dispute.”

In 2010, the society was evicted from the property, which is owned by the city and RDNO (all titles are currently  being transferred to the city).

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

Bandy says the city is only responsible for maintaining the track itself while the buildings fall under the mandate of the society.

RDNO has developed a recreational plan for the site, which includes  sports fields, arenas, a BMX track,  a gymnastics facility and trails.