Council must vote for best interests of entire community on VIMC issue

A mistake in judgement by the previous council does not change the due process

Council must vote for best interests of entire community on VIMC issue

During the first session of the VIMC rezoning public hearing held Oct. 1, it was admitted in the submission by one of the managers of the VIMC that until he was appointed manager, VIMC had been allowing vehicles to operate at the track outside of their prescribed noise restrictions.

He also indicated his frustration with the lack of appreciation from the community after he curtailed the noise levels down to the approximate levels that they should have been for the previous years. He did not offer up an apology for past operations nor did he offer up any compensation to the affected people or begin any noise containment on the site. These three things would have been good “damage control” and would have gone a long way to foster better relations in the community.

During the prior years of operation, VIMC allowed hostile relations to develop by violating their own operatives, repeatedly brushing off the excessive noise allegations and complaints from their neighbours that were being negatively affected by the noise, to the point where a Neighborhood Association was formed and lawsuits were filed.

By offering employment, supporting local non-profits and charities as well as community programs and business associations, there is no doubt that the VIMC had the potential to be a good corporate citizen and offer economic benefit to the Cowichan Valley. Just handing out money however does not make a good corporate citizen.

All of the local non-profit organizations were being supported long before VIMC arrived in the Valley and like the hundreds of other businesses in the Valley, VIMC must operate by the conditions attached to their grants of operation. They must be respectful and thoughtful of all members of the community and if they want to grow their business, they must demonstrate that they can and will abide by all of the conditions attached to their permissible operations.

Their public insinuation at the first hearing that if the rezoning was not approved they would not install any of the noise mitigation they had previously committed to, does not portray considerate or cooperative behaviour to go forward with. It does demonstrate a rather bullying and manipulative attitude that we should all be wary of.

It is the responsibility of the council to ensure that the approval of any development or rezoning applications are in the best interest of the entire community and the environment, not only the best interest of the proponents. VIMC need council approval to expand, the Cowichan Valley does not need an expansion of the VIMC. The first arduous public hearing was completed appropriately and the informed decision to deny the rezoning made, as it might have been if held prior to the issuance of the original development permits as it should have been.

The original development permits for exactly what the VIMC wanted at the time, were admittedly granted in error without the appropriate zoning. A mistake in judgement by the previous council does not change the due process we are all subject to nor does it mean that mistake must be repeated. It is too bad that the empty promises and threats of noisy, wealthy corporate bodies carry so much influence and it is frightening that they are able to so easily manipulate the governing bodies that are elected by us; the people living and working in the affected communities.

Paul Slade

Duncan

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