Talks between the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association and the G.A.I.N. group, owners of Vancouver Island Motorsport Resort, are moving towards what nearby residents hope will be a win-win solution.
North Cowichan CAO Dave Devana has been acting as point man as the municipality tries to resolve concerns from homeowners, who are upset about noise from the track, with the rights of the track owners, who are operating within the property’s zoning.
He told council Nov. 16 that he’s talked to the SNA “to confirm what the parameters of a joint noise study would be from their perspective so I am able to communicate that to the GAIN group.”
The SNA wants to come up with an agreement similar to those they’ve seen at race tracks.
Mayor Jon Lefebure said he and Devana had discussed finding an appropriate time in the near future to call a meeting of the SNA and the GAIN group and moderate that meeting.
Devana added, “It’s very important, if you want the GAIN group to be there, that we have clarity about what we’re going to be doing at this meeting. One particular thing we could be doing is clarifying what SNA wants and the other thing could be a process to enter into some type of formal agreement.”
Lefebure said he wanted to make the calls immediately to try for a meeting next week.
“I’m afraid, from some of the emails I’ve seen, that council might be a little apprehensive that we’re not making progress. I think the next step is to actually have that meeting with the interested parties. And I’d like to move that forward so that council can see some progress,” he said.
Councillors then indicated that the mayor should go ahead with his plans.
Mariah Wallaner, a member of the SNA board of directors, also spoke at the council meeting.
“We know that GAIN has introduced a voluntary noise policy and I’m here to say that we really appreciate that gesture very much. What they’ve done is they’ve shifted this conversation to one of solutions rather than whether or not we have a problem, and we’re really grateful for that. They also expressed a desire to be a good neighbour in reviewing this policy and we’re very happy because we’ve said all along we really want a win-win solution here. This is a great step in the right direction,” she said.
Wallener said that, because there are agreements from other communities to use as examples, she is excited about the possibility to get together on one, particularly if it remains “a living document” where it could be revisited from time to time, making changes as needed.
Setting up such an agreement with both parties would reduce the chance of either side seeing the setup as “punitive”, she said, since both sides were in on it from the start, according to Wallener.
“So, the municipality can rest easy that they’re not going to get sued. Nobody’s treated unfairly or feeling that the rug’s been pulled out from underneath them, and yet you have a document that satisfies everybody,” she said.
“We’re happy to have Mr. Devana act as a liaison. He’s been doing a great job with this noise study discussion. We’d be happy to continue that.”
She also welcomed Lefebure’s offer to moderate a meeting.
“We’d love to have you participate in this. We see this as a wonderful opportunity to get a solution here that works for everybody. It’s quick, and it’s relatively painless.”