Announcement: VIMC Open House


Below is a copy of a letter sent out to SNA members and supporters earlier today regarding the upcoming Open House events at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit:

Dear Members and Supporters of the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association,

You may be aware that the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit (VIMC) has issued invitations via mail and newspaper advertising for citizens to attend two Open Houses at VIMC on Tuesday, April 24 (7 - 9 pm) and Sunday, April 29 (2 - 4 pm). The purpose of these Open Houses is to commence the community engagement portion of VIMC's rezoning application to allow for expansion of their current facilities over an additional 230 acres (to read more about the rezoning application, please visit our website).

At these Open Houses, VIMC will engage with members of the public to share the proposed plans for expansion and obtain feedback. In addition, VIMC will collect names for participation on a Working Committee, which has been proposed as part of their Community and Public Engagement Plan. The Committee would prepare a report to be submitted to the Municipality as part of the rezoning application process.

These two Open Houses are part of a Communication and Public Engagement Plan that was requested by MNC in August 2017 in response to VIMC's rezoning application. The proposed plan was submitted to the Municipality in early April, and on April 6 the SNA was invited to provide feedback on the proposal. In the invitation letter, Marie Baynton (Director of Community Engagement for VIMC) stated "both the Municipality and the Circuit would like to have the SNA's input before it is finalized" while noting that ads for the first two Open Houses would be published the following week.

Despite the short turnaround time, the SNA Board of Directors reviewed the plan and responded with a list of concerns that were sent to VIMC on Friday, April 13. A copy was also sent to the municipality, and CAO Ted Swabey followed up with a response to VIMC based on the issues raised in our letter.

Our concerns are as follows (please refer to the Community and Public Engagement Plan):

Phase 1: Open Houses

  • the timeline is too tight; the first open house is scheduled for April 24; all technical information is not yet available, including:

  • analysis of the acoustics report for the existing facility (acoustical experts retained by MNC)

  • acoustics report for the proposed track expansion

  • CVRD Area E residents should be included in the mail-out, as many of the most heavily impacted homes are in the CVRD [Note: we are now aware that some CVRD residents have received invitations]

  • the level of engagement with respect to the IAP2 spectrum is too low (proposal calls for Level 2 engagement)

  • the nature of the "professional and technical staff" in attendance at the Open Houses is not specified

Phase 2: Working Committee

  • the working committee will require a significant investment of time on the part of the participants; how these participants are to be selected should be clear before the process begins

  • the structure and governance of the working committee needs to be clarified and acceptable to the SNA

  • the working committee does not include representatives from Cowichan Tribes or the CVRD

  • of the 5 days allotted to this working committee; only one day deals with noise

  • there is no time allotted to environmental issues surrounding the proposed 230-acre expansion

  • there are no environmental impact studies on the proposed expansion; we feel this is a crucial piece of information given the sensitivity of the Somenos Watershed

  • it seems premature to devote so much time and energy to the working committee process without all the relevant technical information being available

Conclusion:

  • Given information provided at a recent council meeting that the rezoning application is unlikely to appear before the sitting council, and will instead extend beyond the municipal election in October 2018, we are concerned that an important process - that of careful community consultation - cannot be achieved in the rapid timeline proposed by VIMC. There is simply too much information missing at this point.

The SNA would like to encourage all residents to attend the Open Houses and share your concerns about the existing facility and the proposed expansion with VIMC. Given that important information about the impact of the proposed track expansion is still pending, particularly reports relating to noise and mitigation strategies, the Municipality has requested clarification from VIMC regarding the status of the proposed Working Committee. The SNA will provide updates as further information becomes available.


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