A BC Supreme Court judge has decided the fate of Kin Race Track in Vernon, after a dispute that has lasted almost two decades and has seen the park deteriorate over the years (Beach Radio News photo)
The Okanagan Equestrian Society says it hasn’t ruled out appealing a BC Supreme Court decision over the use of Kin Race Track Park in Vernon.
A judge has sided with the City of Vernon and Regional District of North Okanagan in the dispute that dates back over a decade.
Society vice president Ed Woolley says they have a month to decide if they will appeal the ruling.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the decision that came down. We’re, right now, looking at our options around appeal, and we’re going to have some discussions with our counsel as to where we go from here,” Woolley told Beach Radio News.
The judge disagreed with the Society’s claim that a 1965 agreement created a charitable trust in perpetuity, and prevented the local governments from using the land for activities other than horse racing and training.
Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund says the city will be discussing when, and what, they can do on the site, which has been earmarked for new recreational facilities.
“I don’t know if it will be this council, or the next council that’s elected, that will make a decision about what happens on that property. You don’t have any winners anytime you have to go to court. I’m sure the Equestrian Society isn’t happy, but that’s what happens when you go to court and you don’t settle outside. But we’re happy at that city, that we’ve been awarded the land.” Mund tells Beach Radio News.
Back in 2010, the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee came up with a general plan to use the site for new ice rinks, a gymnastic facility, a BMX Park, and more, but the plans were put on hold due to the legal dispute.
“It will be re-discussed. I know that plan included a BMX track if I recall, some baseball fields, a rugby pitch and other fields, so that will be revisited. It also included a new recreation facility itself, whether that means a new pool or gymnastics, or something other sports organization could use.”
Mund was not immediately aware of how much the city has spent on legal costs in the case, but he expects that figure to be released in a few weeks.
The mayor says as part of new recreation agreement that took effect this year, that property was signed over to the City by RDNO.
9 am story:
A long running dispute over the use of Kin Race Track Park in Vernon has been decided by a judge.
BC Supreme Court justice Michael Tammen has ruled in favour of the City of Vernon and the Regional District of North Okanagan who were taken to court by the Okanagan Equestrian Society.
The judge’s key ruling shot down the Society’s claim that a 1965 agreement created a charitable trust in perpetuity, and prevented the local governments from changing the land for activity other than horse racing and training.
The judge also dismissed the society’s claim to general and special damages, but did entitle them to their costs.
The city and RDNO have planned to use the land for new recreational facilities, but that plan has been on hold since 2010, pending a legal resolution.
Listen to Beach Radio News for reaction to the court ruling.