It’s a case of duelling reports as North Cowichan’s public hearing on controversial expansion plans for the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit, set for Oct. 1, quickly approaches.
A recently released comprehensive review of noise studies questions the testing that was completed as part of the studies and the conclusions that were made. The noise studies in question were commissioned by the VIMC and its owners, and were done at the facility since it opened in 2016.
California-based Navcon Engineering, which provides consulting services, was hired by the Municipality of North Cowichan, in whose jurisdiction the VIMC operates, to conduct an independent third-party review of the noise reports by audio consultants Wakefield Acoustics and BeSB GMBH Berlin.
Both the reports by Wakefield and BeSB concluded that VIMC is operating in compliance with the applicable noise regulations in that area, close to Mount Prevost on the Cowichan Valley Highway, and that the VIMC does not represent a significant noise impact to the surrounding community.
Jim Steedman, president of Navcon Engineering, said in the review it is Navcon’s opinion that the VIMC operation does represent a significant noise impact to the area.
“We suggest that a comprehensive community noise-monitoring survey be conducted and the survey be coordinated with members of the community,” Steedman said.
“Reasonable track-side limits can then be established, which hopefully will satisfy the needs of the community and VIMC.”
But, in its turn, a rebuttal report to Navcon’s review, prepared by Victoria-based RWDI Air Inc. Consulting Engineers & Scientists, for the VIMC and released last week, questions the methods Navcon used to come to its conclusions.
RWDI’s report deals only with the findings and conclusions from the Wakefield report.
The VIMC opened in June 2016, on an 18.74-hectare parcel of land, and the levels of noise from the facility have led to complaints and lawsuits from neighbours since the beginning of its operations.
Plans for phase two of the project, which is going to the public hearing on Oct. 1, include a new, five-kilometre paved motor vehicle circuit, an off-road circuit, and a new clubhouse and buildings for maintaining, repairing and storing motor vehicles on a 42.47-hectare site adjacent to phase one.
Among other findings, the Navcon review states that the noise study that Wakefield used in its report was conducted on a day when the VIMC was less busy than others and is not representative of the noise impact experienced by the community during busier days, like a Member Track Day.
The review also determined that the Wakefield report neglected to take detailed logs of information, like the number and types of cars on the track on the day when the study was conducted.
“Without a detailed log of the track activities, as well as a description of the sounds at the community locations, it is not possible to relate the track noise with the community noise impact,” the review concluded.
The RWDI report, prepared by acoustical specialist Andrew Williamson, states that “it is not our understanding” that the studies were conducted on less busy days, and that, in fact, the noise measurements were carried out while the VIMC was operating under conditions that would be expected to produce noise levels equal or greater to those produced during a typical busy day at the facility.
As for the charge that Wakefield didn’t take detailed logs of information, the RWDI report states that documenting such information was considered unnecessary as operating conditions at the VIMC were understood to be consistent with those during busy days.
“Additionally, noise levels were averaged over a longer time period than required for a vehicle to complete a single lap so that exact start and stop times of individual vehicles were irrelevant,” the report said.
“Furthermore, vehicle types and numbers have now been provided.”
Isabel Rimmer, president of the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association, said the SNA acknowledges that Wakefield’s testing was done on a busy day at the VIMC, but the track itself was not busy and not indicative of days when it is in full use.
“The tests were conducted on a Porsche-owner driver day, which is a busy day but not a noisy one,” Rimmer said.
“Porsche owners are usually middle-aged and older, and are not performance drivers, and their lap times are typically much slower than high-performance drivers. This a good example of if you keep saying something over and over again, it becomes true. We don’t buy it.”
The public hearing on phase two of the VIMC will be held at 6 p.m. on Oct. 1 at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.