By Charlotte Helston
Six years after the litigation over Kin Race Track galloped out the starting gate, it's being tied to the hitching post. The Okanagan Equestrian Society, the City of Vernon and the Regional District of North Okanagan have all agreed to put legal action on hold, for now.
The track is jointly owned by the city and RDNO, who want to use the land for a new purpose—a pool, a sports facility, maybe two arenas. But the society maintains they have a right to continue racing horses at the site, as per an obligation made in 1964.
Trafford Hall, RDNO administrator, says district staff have more pressing matters on their plates at the moment, like the proposed sports facility at Okanagan College and the Antwerp Springs court case.
"We're not going to court with this now," Hall says, noting it's not an urgent matter. "We'll park it and resurrect it when we need to."
He says resolving the matter now would demand time, money and staffing that simply aren't available.
"We're holding off on court, but we can still, from time to time, meet with them," Hall says of ongoing discussions with the society.
There's a possibility of resolving the situation without going to court, if all the parties can agree on a compromise.
"There's no criminality here. This doesn't have to go to court. It's better if you can just sit amongst each other in a calm way," Hall says.
Ed Woolley, society president, says there are a few different options to solve the problem and keep all sides happy.
"This has been the never ending litigation," Woolley says. "We have a couple of options, but they require we do more fact finding."
Woolley says the society will be seeking assistance from government sources down the road to fortify their case.
According to Hall, RDNO and the city are set on their intentions to transform the track, but may assist the society in finding a new location. That might include financial investment. Hall believes there are opportunities on the table which could keep horse racing alive in Vernon—just not in its present location. "Is it necessary to complete right down town?" he questions.
Necessary or not, racing will continue at the track until action is resumed. Neither Woolley nor Hall can predict when they'll saddle the beast again, but note it could be years.
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