HELSTON: Losing the Kin Race Track would be losing part of history

Charlotte Helston is a reporter with InfoTel News.

VERNON - While the Vernon courthouse recently celebrated its centennial this year, the even older Kin Race Track is fighting to remain a fixture of the community, despite the crowds that come galloping through the gates every summer.

Both are historic facets of the town, yet the City of Vernon and the Regional District of North Okanagan seem determined to stomp out the Okanagan Equestrian Society and the horse racing events held on the property—that much is plain by the ongoing legal battle between the parties.

The old grandstands at the race track have already been lost. A suspicious fire the night of June 9 took care of that. The city's insurance covers the damage, but it's uncertain if the grandstands will be rebuilt. That will require support from the city. 

The regional district has yet to cite any specific plan for the 43 Avenue property, located just behind Kal Tire Place, though it has expressed interest in building some sort of sports facility there.

Why the rush to erase the track’s 121 years of history? The district and the city haven't said they're opposed to horse racing on any animal rights grounds, they just want the property.

But with a new sports facility under construction at Okanagan College and talk of decommissioning Civic Arena and building a new ice sheet in the Kal Tire Parking lot, there doesn’t appear to be an immediate need for the property.

The regional district’s former chief administrative officer said the intention wasn’t to quash horse racing in Vernon, but he questioned the necessity to have it go on in the present location. Why not have Canada’s oldest race track continue in the same spot it’s been in for over a century?

With the city filling up with Targets and Walmarts and hot yoga studios, it’s legacies like the Vernon courthouse and Kin Race Track that make Vernon unique.

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

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