A meeting spanning nine and a half hours over two days saw North Cowichan council defeat third reading of a wildly contentious bylaw.
The bylaw, if adopted, would have seen the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit (VIMC) rezoned into a comprehensive development zone, allowing for a huge expansion.
Doctor Isabel Rimmer with the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association said while she’s grateful that the current council is moving in a new direction, a previous council approving VIMC’s development permit without noise mitigation data was a huge oversight.
“VIMC does not have the data yet and it would be up to them to get that data and act on it. Really, that’s what they should have done to start with,” said Rimmer. “This is not just their fault, North Cowichan was remiss in recognizing that this could have been a noise problem and making sure that noise mitigation was part of the original development permit.”
Rimmer said, “We have a racetrack with no noise mitigation built on the side of a hill, 800 metres from a residential area.”
The expansion would have ramped up the decibel level in the Sahtlam community and one of the six people who have been engaged in the effort to reduce track noise from the outset said the expansion would have seen a dramatic increase in noise.
“Our concern was that, despite the fact that there was legislative relief that could be wrapped up in the rezoning,” said Rimmer. “We were being told that the noise limits and the limitations on hours of operation; the maximum noise level was going to be part of the legal covenant that would cover the noise issues was going to be 79 decibels. That is 16 times louder than what our neighbourhood is right now.”
The vote was defeated five-two and both Mayor Al Siebring and councillor Tek Manhas were in favour of the expansion.
Attempts to speak with VIMC’s General Manager Paul Rossmo have been unsuccessful.