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Noise Mitigation a Pre-Requisite for Racetrack Expansion Plans

The Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association (SNA) is celebrating news that the Municipality of North Cowichan is seeking a noise mitigation plan from the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit (VIMC). The plan is one of several requirements put forward by the municipality in response to an application by VIMC to rezone its properties for a large track expansion. Other requirements include a Community and Public Engagement Plan and comprehensive acoustical studies of the current facility and the proposed expansion.

The SNA has been asking the municipality for a solution to the problem of excessive vehicle noise since the summer of 2016, when VIMC first began operations. The rezoning application by VIMC provides North Cowichan with the opportunity to consider noise mitigation as a requirement for processing the application, which also involves a proposed amendment to the Official Community Plan (OCP). Section of the OCP states: "The Municipality will, in processing development applications, take into consideration the potential for noise pollution posed by an applicant's operation or activity and may impose additional requirements to ensure that any potential disturbances are minimized."

The sequence of events is as follows:

(1) In September of 2017, VIMC submitted a report prepared by BeSB, a German acoustics firm that performed a sound modelling study on "Phase 1", the existing motorsports track.

(2) The municipality hired a third-party acoustics firm to review the report and make recommendations for any further information that may be required to verify the sound study.

(3) Once the third-party experts have verified all sound information provided by VIMC, the municipality will request that VIMC submit a sound mitigation proposal.

(4) The municipality, along with its third-party acoustical experts, will review the sound mitigation proposal. When the proposal is approved, the rezoning application will proceed.

(5) The rezoning application process will include a sound modelling study for the proposed track expansion ("Phase II"), which will also be reviewed by the municipality's acoustical experts for verification.

The news that VIMC will be required to mitigate sound coming from the existing facility before their plans for expansion will be considered by the municipality represents a victory for residents affected by noise from the racetrack. The SNA appreciates the seriousness with which the municipality has responded to our concerns about intrusive and excessive noise coming from the motorsports facility. In our dealings with the municipality over the last few months, the desire of staff and council to address the noise issue has been made apparent to us, and we applaud the inclusion of sound mitigation as a pre-requisite for considering any plans for expansion.

The process of reviewing the noise studies then developing, reviewing, and implementing a noise mitigation plan will take many months to complete. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood around VIMC is currently suffering from yet another summer marred by noise from race car engines and screeching tires. To that end, the SNA has launched the Save Our Summer (SOS) campaign: we are actively engaging with the municipality and VIMC to see what can be done to mitigate the impact of track activities on the surrounding neighbourhood while a long-term plan is being developed. More on that in subsequent posts - stay tuned!

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