Campbell River city council will be looking for other options for the much-debated proposed drag strip that was proposed to be built out at the airport.
“Considering both the anticipated economic benefits of motorsport racing events in Campbell River, and the challenges related to developing a facility adjacent to the airport, council has decided not to pursue the use of the airport land for a drag strip and has directed staff to work with the Vancouver Island Motor Sport Association (VIMSA) to explore options for alternative locations,” according to a press release from the city.
The city had been working with VIMSA to consider a proposal to develop 45 acres of land adjacent to the airport. Information from the provincial government confirmed that to use the land for a purpose unrelated to airport operations, the city would have to pursue removal of the land from the airport land grant, the release says. This would require land transfers and associated long-term borrowing to purchase the land.
The city has received mixed community feedback on the proposal to develop a drag strip adjacent to the airport, including letters from Homalco First Nation and from Couverdon outlining concerns about the proposed airport location. But because of a recent study that shows the estimated economic impact such a facility would have on the community – almost $2 million annually in direct local impact, for example – the city wants to explore other options to see the project come to fruition.
“We see the value in VIMSA’s initiative and want to support this moving forward,” says Mayor Andy Adams. “Given the information we’ve received about costs to develop near the airport, and the community concerns we’ve heard about creating a facility at this site, council feels best way to support this initiative is for the city to help VIMSA find a suitable alternative location.”
VIMSA has been working on the proposal since 2016, engaged in many community consultation sessions over that time and repeatedly stated that they have no interest in creating a venue that will be disruptive to the surrounding community.
“We do not want to build a facility in a place that would cause a noise issue,” VIMSA president Jim Johnson wrote in a letter to council late last year after the city received the concerns from Couverdon. “I’ve seen many racing facilities come and go, and I have no interest in being involved in one that’s built in the wrong location.”