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VIMC proposes working group; forgets we already had one

On April 13, the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit (VIMC) appeared as a delegation before North Cowichan Committee of the Whole. The presentation was led by Toby Seward, a "planning and permitting" consultant for VIMC, in which he proposed that VIMC, the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association (SNA), and the Municipality of North Cowichan (MNC) form a working group to develop a noise mitigation strategy. This suggestion came as a huge surprise to the SNA and members of the audience, since a working group involving all three parties has been operating since November 2016.

As described previously, the working group was formed in response to a request by SNA at a North Cowichan council meeting on November 16, 2016. The SNA proposed that VIMC, MNC, and SNA come together to create a joint noise management plan, modelled on community-based policies such as the one at Brands Hatch racetrack. Mayor Lefebure offered to facilitate the meetings at North Cowichan municipal hall, and the working group first met on November 25, 2016. The details of those proceedings and of subsequent meetings are described here. The most recent decision was to collect data from noise monitors that would be installed by MNC and coordinated with those at VIMC in order to better inform our discussions around appropriate noise limits.

Perhaps Mr. Seward could be forgiven for not knowing that a working group already existed, and that representatives from VIMC, SNA, and MNC had already been working towards a noise management plan. He'd only been hired one month earlier. But the next move surprised us even more.

After VIMC's presentation, Mayor and Council retreated to a closed session. The following morning, Mayor Lefebure informed the SNA that council had agreed to participate in the working group proposed by VIMC, and encouraged the SNA to participate as well. Apparently, MNC and VIMC have abandoned the previous working group - without notifying the SNA - and six months of negotiations have been tossed aside as if they never happened.* Even the promised noise monitors appear to be on hold pending the establishment of this new working group, whose objective - as far as we can tell - is exactly the same as that of the previous working group.

Go figure.

* UPDATE 4/21/17: Since this article was published, the SNA has had further discussions with Mayor Lefebure on this issue. The Mayor indicated that MNC viewed Mr. Seward's proposal as a way to revitalize the existing working group and accelerate progress on the noise issues. The SNA noted that if North Cowichan believed the existing working group was experiencing any difficulties or challenges, they should have approached us privately to discuss it rather than publicly endorse what was essentially a publicity stunt by VIMC. The idea of a collaborative working group was clearly presented as a new initiative being put forward by VIMC, rather than the continuation of an existing working group. The follow-up article by Cowichan Valley Citizen, whose silence on our own presentation to North Cowichan was deafening, lauded the efforts of VIMC to address the neighbourhood's noise complaints (stay tuned to this blog for a full rebuttal of that article).

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