The fate of Vernon’s Kin Race Track is in the hands of a judge.
Both the Okanagan Equestrian Society and the City of Vernon are in the midst of what’s expected to be a 10-day trial in New Westminster.
“The case has started. After 14 years, our first witness testified Monday,” said Robyn Dalziel, society president.
“There have been false starts and postpones so we’re all very happy it’s started.”
The dispute began in 2010 when the society was evicted from Kin Race Track.
The society immediately took the city and the Regional District of North Okanagan to court, claiming equestrian activities were guaranteed when most of the track was turned over for free to the city. The society has also claimed RDNO ignored an agreement for lease renewals.
The jurisdictions, though, have claimed the society hasn’t lived up to its terms of the agreement, including maintenance of the property and holding events.
“The city’s objective is to get clarity on the future of the land,” said Will Pearce, Vernon’s chief administrative officer.
“For the City of Vernon, the ratepayers who are the owners of the property, and the equestrian society, we need some assurity for the land . The court will look at the information provided by both sides and make a decision.”
The society’s goal is to have the track remain for equestrian activities even if the society doesn’t exist.
“I’m 100 per cent certain we will be successful. For 14 years, I’ve reviewed the contracts and my certainty from those contracts,” she said of documents between the society, the city and RDNO.
“I’m certain they will hold up in any court and that’s what we will find out.”
The city doesn’t want any restrictions placed on possible uses on the 43rd Avenue site.
“Then we can plan the lands for their best capacity for the community as a whole. Whether we see additional playing fields or larger facilities, that would be a great thing,” said Pearce.
“We don’t believe questrian is the best use as horse racing as a sport is not growing.”