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Council gives proposed indoor horse arena a break on height restriction

Last winter’s harsh conditions made it impossible for many local horse owners to go riding.

Corinne Matheson, operator of Mystic Woods Landscape Design, and the owner of three horses, wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Matheson and her partner Wayne Bairstow plan to build an indoor equestrian arena on property they own on Gordon Road, north of the city, where she says more and more horse owners are buying property in order to accommodate their animals.

The rural setting provides for a nice area to board horses, but when the weather’s bad, there’s nowhere nearby to ride.

“Currently there is no enclosed riding facility in Campbell River to ride when the weather is unfavourable,” says Matheson. “This winter many of the Gordon Road residents had to trailer their horses to Courtenay to ride in the indoor arenas there.”

The Campbell River Trail Riders maintain a riding ring about two kilometres west of the city, off Highway 28, but Matheson said it was unusable for more than three months last winter because of ice and snow. She said the organization cannot afford to build an arena of their own and would be happy to see an indoor venue so close by.

“An indoor riding facility is something that’s really needed in the community and I’m willing to put up the funds for it,” says Matheson. “We decided to do a survey of all the horse owners in the neighbourhood to see if they would use a facility on Gordon Road and everyone said ‘yes’. Further, we went and spoke to all our neighbours without horses and had them sign a form saying they support us building an arena.”

The building is designed to be built at the back of Matheson’s property, where it will not be visible from Gordon Road or by neighbours, as it is completely surrounded by trees on all sides.

Plans call for the building to be a fabric-covered, steel-framed structure, 12 metres in height. A city bylaw restricts such a building to be no more than 10 metres high, but at Tuesday night’s council meeting, councillors voted to allow a variance to the building height, which will allow Matheson to build her building two metres higher.

“I don’t understand why the restriction is 10 metres in a rural area like Gordon Road anyway,” said Coun. Roy Grant.

“I don’t know what kind of structure in a rural setting you could ever build with a roof that’s less than 10 metres.”

Coun. Claire Moglove was pleased to hear about the proposed arena.

“It sounds like a really exciting project and it sounds like you have your bases covered,” she said.

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