VERNON - A longstanding dispute between the Okanagan Equestrian Society, the city and the regional district will finally see the inside of a courtroom.
The parties are scheduled to go to trial over Vernon's historic Kin Race Track March 13 in New Westminster Supreme Court, according to court records.
The trial comes years after the legal dispute started in 2010, when the equestrian society was evicted from Kin Race Track. The property is jointly owned by the City of Vernon and the North Okanagan Regional District.
David Sewell, chief administrative officer for the regional district, says while it’s always disappointing to be involved in legal action, he’s glad to see the case coming to a conclusion.
“I think it’s time. Obviously, you’ve got to come to some resolution for everybody as to what the outcome of the case will be,” Sewell says.
The portion of the property owned by the regional district was supposed to be transferred to the city as part of a parks restructuring process in 2013, but that action is on hold pending the outcome of the litigation, Sewell says.
Legal fees for the district’s lawyer will come out of the parks department, which is funded by the City of Vernon, District of Coldstream and electoral areas B and C.
The City of Vernon will have its own legal representation.
No one from the Okanagan Equestrian Society could be reached for comment, and a response from the city was not immediately available.
The equestrian society has been fundraising to take the case to trial. It says the city breached the operations contract by ceasing payments for upkeep and maintenance of the grounds in 2004. According to the society, their agreement with the city called for $10,000 a year to be given to the operators of Vernon Racing Days, and the contract was to be renewed every five years so long as the society continued to run equestrian events.
The Kin Race Track grandstands were allegedly burned to the ground by a serial arsonist in 2014, and no matter what the outcome of the litigation, the society says there is lots of work to do before the facility is operational again.
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