Duncan racetrack implementing policy to limit noise

A noise study conducted for the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit concluded the noise levels at the racetrack are below acceptable limits

A noise study conducted for the new Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit has concluded the noise levels at the racetrack are below acceptable limits, but the Circuit is nevertheless implementing a noise policy to try to address concerns of neighbours.

The study by the racetrack’s owner, the GAIN Dealer Group, found that noise from the nearby highway and other sources is louder than the sounds from the race track.

The report, prepared by Wakefield Acoustics, stated that noise from the racetrack that was audible at two monitoring sites that were set up may “cause annoyance” to some individuals.

“However, the noise environments at both residential sites were dominated by other noise sources,” the report stated.

“The noise environment at the Mina Drive site was dominated by traffic noises from the Cowichan Valley Highway, while that at the Sahtlam Road site was dominated by aircraft noise during the track day and woodworking noise during the non-track day.”

Brian Evans, operations manager at the VIMC, said even though the noise from the track has been determined to be well below limits, a noise policy has been implemented that will govern all operations.

Included in the policy is a requirement for all vehicles at the track to stay within a 101-decibel noise level.

For comparison, the report stated that a Boeing 737 aircraft flying at 6,080 feet before landing at Victoria Airport produces approximately 97 decibels of noise in the area.

Any vehicle using the VIMC that exceeds the noise limit will be taken off the track and given a chance to make modifications or repairs to make the vehicle comply with the noise policy.

As well, all operations on the track are now limited to the time period from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“The noise level of every vehicle operated at the circuit are now measured with a fixed microphone, 50 feet from the start and finish line,” Evans said in a news release.

“This location was chosen to best capture the highest sound levels created from the various types of events held at the track.”

Evans said the VIMC will submit the data to North Cowichan’s council upon request.

The Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association has raised concerns that the vehicles that make the most noise at the track were not included in any of the testing times during the VIMC’s noise study and urged that the association and municipality be allowed to participate in a second study with the Circuit.

Dave Devana, North Cowichan’s CAO, said at the last council meeting on Nov. 2 that the VIMC had indicated it would participate in a second noise study of the site if it takes place.

The racetrack is a permitted use at the site, situated on 50 acres on a hillside facing Highway 18 to Lake Cowichan, but members of the SNA have maintained that the amount of noise from the racetrack, which opened in June, is far above what the local residents were told it would be.

Members of the SNA successfully lobbied the municipality’s councillors at a meeting on July 20 to have staff ask the VIMC to work with the municipality to prepare a report on the implications of the noise.

The VIMC responded at the time that Wakefield Acoustics was preparing an independent report on noise levels at the racetrack and would share the results with North Cowichan and the SNA.

At the council meeting on Nov. 2, Coun. Joyce Behnsen said she questions whether VIMC’s study was a true reflection of the physical setting the racetrack is in. “The fact is that the racetrack is on the side of a mountain facing a valley, and that could affect noise levels differently,” she said.