‘Truly a sad thing’: Emotions mixed as Vernon’s horse racing track demolished
A long-time Vernon landmark is being demolished.
After 120 years of horse racing, Kin Race Track has been reduced to rubble.
The demolition marks the end of an era, but not the end of the controversy over the land.
At the farmers’ market next door, opinions are mixed about the track’s demolition.
Craig Todd remembers going to the track with his parents and grandparents and is sad to see it go.
“That is a part of history that we are losing here in Vernon and it is truly a sad thing,” Todd said.
“It is sad that we are not going to have horse racing anymore, but things do change.”
Susan Johnson, meanwhile, believes the track — which hasn’t been used for racing in more than five years — should have been torn down sooner to allow for a better layout of the new hockey rink and more parking.
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The decades of horse racing history here came to an end in 2014 when the cancellation of races was followed by an arson that destroyed the grandstand.
For years, the society, which ran racing at the track, was fighting local government in court to keep the site for horse racing.
The city ultimately won that court battle earlier this year, paving the way for the current demolition and for Vernon to use the site for something else.
“I know Vernon residents would be very pleased if horse racing was still a viable activity. It hasn’t been for quite awhile so that’s the sadness,” Vernon’s mayor Victor Cumming said.
“Now what we are going to do is come up with something that is really going to be for our needs now and in the future.”
The mayor said formulating a plan for the property is a high priority for the city, and that whatever is developed will likely involve recreational facilities.
The land is being looked at as potential site for a new active living centre that could include a range of facilities, including a pool, gyms and an indoor walking track.
However, that is years away from being built.
For now, the softball diamonds already in the area will stay and the rest of the land will be left undeveloped as a field, with minimal maintenance, until a plan is made for the property.
The demolition was budgeted at more than $400,000 but the mayor said it is expected to come in under budget.
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