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Future uncertain for Canada's oldest horse-racing track

The Kin Race Track grandstands at Canada's oldest horse-racing facility were completely destroyed by arson in July 2014.
October 02, 2014 - 10:00 AM

VERNON - The future of horse racing in the Interior remains more uncertain thanks to mounting woes for Vernon's troubled Kin Race Track.

The society that runs the track has battled for years to keep it open. Already tight on cash from fighting a legal battle with the City of Vernon to continue racing horses on the property, the society chose to cancel the summer 2014 season and conserve its funds for litigation. Then, this summer, the City of Vernon—which leases the property to the Okanagan Equestrian Society—refused to let it open because electrical upgrades were required.

Now the summer 2015 season is also in jeopardy. The grandstands burned down by an arsonist in July and the city—not the society—gets the insurance proceeds.

After meetings this week, spokesperson Ed Woolley says the future is uncertain, though they have plans. They are considering rebuilding the grandstands or constructing a new arena with indoor seating.

“The board will now have a further meeting to draft up a proposal to take to the city,” Woolley says.

Given their battles to date, support from the city might be a stretch. Vernon Mayor Rob Sawatzky said this week the city is still figuring out what to do with the insurance money, which could take a year or longer to settle. 

Vernon councillors are also considering alternate uses for the site, such as recreational facilities but Sawatzky says no firm plans were made due to the lawsuit and council is keeping an open mind. This is Sawatzky’s last term as mayor, but he says he’d be looking for a “viable, sustainable and supportable” proposal from the society, one that carried support from the public.

“As usual, we would want to reflect the community’s wishes,” Sawatzky says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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