Members of North Cowichan’s council would like noise issues dealt with at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit before an expansion application is considered.
But council decided at its meeting on Dec. 5 that it will wait until it has received legal advice before putting the motion to make that recommendation to the VIMC to a vote.
Mayor Al Siebring cautioned councillors, four of whom are newly elected, that they have a legal duty to keep an open mind about any development application made to the municipality before it goes to a public hearing.
Coun. Kate Marsh pointed out that council is in no rush to pass such a motion at this stage in the application process.
“I just don’t want us to make any mistakes here,” she said.
The VIMC opened in June, 2016, on a 46-acre parcel of land on the Cowichan Valley Highway, and the levels of noise emanating from the facility have led to complaints and lawsuits from its neighbours from the beginning of its operations.
Ted Swabey, North Cowichan’s CAO, outlined VIMC’s application for its second phase at the meeting.
The first phase of the facility involved the construction of the clubhouse and the track, and the second phase calls for an expansion of the track up the slope behind the original track and to the east of the clubhouse.
He said noise studies of the original track have been conducted by the VIMC (the studies found noise to fall within acceptable levels) and an independent firm has been chosen to review the study’s conclusions on behalf of the municipality.
But he said the process was interrupted by the municipal elections in October, and no conclusions have been reported to the municipality at this point.
“We expect that information soon, then we’ll review it with our consultants to see if it is acceptable and then we’ll ask council for direction,” he said.
“We’ve already said to the VIMC that its application (for the second phase) could be in peril if the noise concerns from the first phase are not dealt with to council’s satisfaction. But council must stop short of judging this application until it has all the facts to consider it.”
Coun. Christopher Justice said he doesn’t think it’s possible for council to accurately weigh the pros and cons of phase two until it knows for certain that noise mitigation proposals for stage one actually work.
“We’ll have a hard time weighing the costs and benefits of phase two unless we know these measures work,” he said.
“I know we’re not in a position to consider the application right now, but we should communicate to the VIMC that council considers this of utmost importance.”