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Vernon, B.C. looking for public input on new ‘flagship’ park at Kin Race Track

Click to play video: 'Vernon moving ahead with Kin Race Track redevelopment' Vernon moving ahead with Kin Race Track redevelopment
WATCH: It was the site of a large arson fire, the subject of a lengthy lawsuit and the center of a lot of public debate. Now planning is underway for the future of a large Vernon property with a colourful past. The city is asking for public input on how the Kin Race Track site should be redeveloped – Nov 23, 2021

It was the site of a large arson fire, the subject of a lengthy lawsuit, and the centre of a lot of public debate.

Now, planning is underway for the future of the Kin Race Track site in Vernon, B.C.

The city plans to create a new “flagship” park on the 32-acre property next to Kal Tire Place arena.

Vernon is asking for public input on how the new Kin Race Track Park should look.

Read more: Court judgment opens door for new development at Kin Race Track

“[This] is an opportunity that you don’t get every day so…we are really hoping to get some really cool ideas of what we can do around that park…and build something that will be a legacy for our community as we move into the future,” said Laurie Cordell, the City of Vernon’s manager of long-range planning and sustainability.
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Council has already asked for the park plans to include outdoor skating, a dog park, trails, sports fields, and, space for affordable housing.

The plan to include affordable housing in the park is generating a lot of public discussion with some wanting to see more affordable housing in the plan, due to the shortage of reasonably priced housing options in the city.

Others don’t think it’s the right site for affordable housing development and think the Kin Race Track site should focus on recreation.

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Cordell said affordable housing is generally a priority for the city because many people have reported struggling with housing in the city.

“Affordable housing can be anything on a…spectrum of kinds of housing,” said Cordell.

“I think having more eyes on the park will bring more safety. it will give people in those housing units the ability to enjoy the park.”

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The redevelopment of the site comes after a long saga that included the grandstand on the property being burnt down by serial arsonists in the summer of 2014.

Read more: Serial arsonist in Vernon sentenced to 3 years

The city is now free to go ahead with the redevelopment after winning a lengthy legal battle over the future of the property.

A community group had been fighting in court to keep the space for horse racing.

Read more: Development of Vernon’s Kin Race Track could include pool, housing

So some are disappointed that the site is being redeveloped at all and would like the future park to include horses in some way.

The city currently has a $16-million budget for the project, that would not require any additional taxation.

If a pricier design is picked, the work would need to be phased in.

“We can certainly do some elements of the park, and quite a nice park, for $16 million. Can we do really sophisticated facilities everywhere? Maybe not,” Cordell said.

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“We definitely can put in a skating trail, some dog walking areas, and some of the things that we know people want out there. We just may have to phase in some of the later development.”

The city is collecting public input on the new development till mid-December and could start construction as early as September 2022.

Read more: Vernon planning for new pool as Coldstream pumps the brakes

The Kin Race Track site is also expected to incorporate the proposed new pool. That project is expected to go to a referendum next fall.

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