"Approved as a Permitted Use": The Full Story
Last night, SNA directors Isabel Rimmer and Mariah Wallener presented our report, "Approved as a Permitted Use", to a standing-room-only crowd at the North Cowichan Committee of the Whole.
This report was the culmination of months of hard work by SNA directors, along with Sahtlam area residents and other supporters who donated their time, money, and efforts to research and fully understand the situation.
Our mission last night was simple and straightforward: to share what we knew with North Cowichan.
For months the SNA has been questioning the zoning for Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit (VIMC), and the conditions under which the property was sold and approved as a permitted use. Staff have repeatedly stood by their interpretation of the zoning bylaws, despite probing questions from Council as recently as the March 15, 2017 regular session. The history of the VIMC property goes back to 2006, and multiple councils were involved in the decisions that led to the situation we find ourselves in today. This, combined with their reliance on staff for information, makes it all the more difficult for today's Council to appreciate the extent of the issue. Thus, we approached council and asked that we be allowed to present our case. An invitation was issued to appear as a delegation before the North Cowichan Committee of the Whole on March 23, 2017, which we gratefully accepted.
After an introductory speech by Isabel, Mariah outlined the reasoning behind our position that VIMC is operating in violation of North Cowichan Zoning Bylaw 2950, and that permission to do so was granted in contravention of that bylaw.
[note: the entire presentation was recorded and can be viewed here]
These bylaw violations have a direct bearing on the current situation with the illegally built off-road track. Thus, following Mariah's presentation, Isabel summed up the SNA's position on the off-road track, part of a planned expansion of the facility that would cover over 200 acres of forested hillside. We made it clear to council that the zoning does not support the intended use, and we asked North Cowichan to refrain from granting any development permits from VIMC on that basis.
We were hoping that our presentation would prompt a discussion with council that would allow us to share some suggestions on how to rectify the current situation. However, based on advice from their legal department, Mayor Lefebure instructed Council to refrain from questions or comments following our presentation.
The details in our report were unknown to many of the dozens of residents who packed council chambers last night. The SNA is grateful for their patience over the past months as we worked tirelessly on this important issue. Isabel and Mariah were deeply moved by the many handshakes, hugs, and thank-you's from the audience, who came out in droves to support our community. It is now in the hands of North Cowichan to decide how to move forward. We sincerely hope to be part of that conversation.
(To download a copy of our report, click here).