The idea to bring stock car racing back to Langley is not, in and of itself, a bad idea; the idea to return it to the middle of Campbell Valley Park is.
The track closed due to urban sprawl and noise issues. What makes anyone think those issues have not increased in importance over the past 29 years?
The number of people living within a five-mile radius of the park and the number of people using the park have increased exponentially since 1984.
Yes, equestrians use the park. It is, after all, the home of Campbell Valley Downs, the Spirit of the Horse Park, and the Campbell Valley Equestrian Centre.
However, it is not the equestrians' private country club, rather it is shared by a diverse community - walkers, hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, families, and equestrians.
Of the 700,000 people visiting the park last year, only 100,000 were equestrians.
There are four parking lots in the park, and all of them are pretty much full on any given weekend when the weather is decent, yet only one of them allows horse trailers, and that one is at the equestrian centre off 208th Street.
While the greater percentage of users are non-equestrian, we, the equestrian community, have to yell the loudest in this discussion, for we bear the highest safety risk.
We bring young horses to the park to help acclimatize them to things they will encounter on the trail - birds suddenly flying up from the long grass, other horses, dogs, walkers, kids, etc,.
We bring inexperienced riders to the park to enjoy a nice trail ride while improving their skills.
We can only do these things because Campbell Valley Park is a safe, quiet place where users respect each other and their right to use the trails.
We take every precaution to ride safely (helmets, vests, etc.) but sometimes accidents happen. The sudden loud roar of race car engines will put our safety at risk, as well as the safety of any pedestrians who are in close proximity to a terrified 1,200-pound prey animal that thinks it is about to be attacked.
A racetrack in the middle of the park eliminates the safety factor required for these things.
The Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities (PRDA) would have to close down on race days, as they are right across the street from the track entrance, and the risk to their clients and horses is not to be taken lightly.
208th Street is a narrow two-lane road. How is the Langley Speedway Historical Society planning on policing it to ensure that it doesn't get clogged with people parking on the narrow shoulders? How are they going to keep race-goers from parking at the equestrian centre, leaving no room for trucks and trailers in the only parking lot we have access to?
It doesn't take much of a look around to see that this would become a major issue. How are trucks and horse trailers supposed to get to the equestrian centre if there are cars lining the sides of the street, leaving us no room to manoeuvre?
I hear a lot of talk about equestrians and their 'elitist' sport and how they need to be rich, etc. That is false rhetoric. Yes, there are folks who spend a lot of money competing in various events (dressage, jumping, reining, three-day eventing, etc.), but most of those who ride in the park are just average, everyday people who work hard to do something they love. I spend less per month on board than I spent on cigarettes 12 years ago. I shudder to think of what I would be spending at today's prices, if I still smoked one and a half packs a day.
Mr. Jones presented 1,100 letters of support [Visit to park planned before Speedway decision, May 23, Langley Advance]. Let me pose a couple questions:
How many of those 1,100 supporters stand to profit financially (directly or indirectly) from the speedway?
How many supporters live in the immediate area?
How many are users of the park on a regular basis?
How many are also equestrians?
The equestrian community may not be as large as other groups using the park, but we have a loud voice, and that voice says, "No racing in Campbell Valley Park."
S. Satel, Langley
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