Martina Joe speaks to North Cowichan’s council at its meeting in Nov. 6 on the decision to hold a second public hearing on the expansion plans at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Martina Joe speaks to North Cowichan’s council at its meeting in Nov. 6 on the decision to hold a second public hearing on the expansion plans at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Contentious Duncan-area motorsport expansion proposal gets another hearing

Council also rescinds decision to deny development permit until after public hearing

North Cowichan will hold a second public hearing on the controversial expansion plans at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit.

Council voted unanimously at its meeting on Nov. 6 to rescind its decision made after the two-day public hearing early last month to deny the rezoning request. The application will now go to a second public hearing to gather more public input before council again decides on whether to accept or reject it. The hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9, 6 p.m., at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.

RELATED STORY: FRACTIOUS TWO-DAY HEARING ENDS WITH A NO FOR COWICHAN MOTORSPORT EXPANSION

Council also decided to defer the municipality’s decision to not issue a development permit for the VIMC’s phase two, and the decision will be revisited after the public hearing.

Mayor Al Siebring and Coun. Tek Manhas were the only council members to vote for the rezoning to proceed after the public hearing last month.

Siebring told the large audience that gathered for the decision that while the information that council received from the public at the first public hearing was completely valid, it was not complete.

He said the municipality has been involved with legal proceedings over the issue, and the legal advice given to council was, and remains, covered under solicitor-client privilege and, as such, couldn’t be released to the public.

“But when we went into the first round of public hearings last month, the public was providing their input based on the information that North Cowichan was at liberty to provide and, to be clear, that was incomplete information,” Siebring said.

“The public didn’t know explicitly about the legal risks involved in the decision. But on Oct. 15, we received correspondence from Lorenzo Oss-Ketch, a lawyer for the VIMC, demanding that a development permit be issued for phase two on the basis that one had been issued for phase one, and outlining potential legal action if the development permit is not issued.”

RELATED STORY: $50M LIABILITY WORRY HAS NORTH COWICHAN MAYOR ASKING FOR MOTORSPORT REZONING DO-OVER

Siebring said the new information outlining North Cowichan’s liability was further augmented by another letter from the VIMC lawyer which stated the full scope of the potential lawsuit could be in the range of $60-million.

He said there is also a new offer from the VIMC to gift 250 acres of its lands to Cowichan Tribes, which is also new information.

Siebring pointed out that council’s vote to reconsider its decision to deny rezoning after the first public hearing doesn’t mean any member of council is being forced to change their vote.

“It simply means we’re going to vote on it again,” he said.

“And I acknowledge the vote could very well be the same as it was the last time.”

Coun. Christopher Justice said he feels “sick” that council will revisit the issue, but to be fair and according to procedure, council can’t reconsider its decision without holding another public hearing first.

Manhas said council owes it to the residents, who could face a large tax increase due to the legal liability, to hold another public hearing with all the information presented.

Coun. Rosalie Sawrie also she doesn’t feel good about revisiting the issue, but the public should be allowed to comment on the new information.

Coun. Kate Marsh said it’s not an “easy thing” for council to rescind its earlier decision on the rezoning and have another public hearing, but council has a responsibility with the new information.

RELATED STORY: NOISE REPORTS ON COWICHAN MOTORSPORT CIRCUIT TAKE AIM AT EACH OTHER

Council allowed several speakers at the council meeting to address the issue, and all spoke against the expansion plans at the VIMC moving forward.

Jack McNeil said he spent 38 years dealing with bullies.

“I want you to know that you have the overwhelming support of the community,” he said.

“We urge you to stay the course and not bow to bully tactics.”

Jared Williams, a member of Cowichan Tribes, also urged council not to change their minds on the VIMC expansion.

“Please don’t do this,” he said. “You already said no. This is our Garden of Eden and we don’t want to see it changed.”

Isabel Rimmer, president of the Sahtlam Residents Association, thanked council for its work on the issue.

She said the SRA was expecting the other shoe to drop, but the manner in which it was dropped was unexpected.

“We’d like to see North Cowichan’s taxpayers come to the public hearing and reassure our council and show them that we don’t want to see them bullied,” Rimmer said.

“We feel that council has heard what the Cowichan Tribes community have said and hope they take it into consideration when making their decision. The benefit of this is if council stands by its original decision, it would close the door on these expansion plans for good.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

The memorial site for double-murder victims Nellie Williams and Fran Shurie, located in Charles Hoey Park, will be allowed to stay for another two months after the City of Duncan changed its policy on temporary memorials. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan allowing memorials to murdered pair stay longer

Policy change related to memorial for double-homicide victims in city park

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in Juan de Fuca Strait

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

Keygan Power, pictured at B.C. Children's Hospital,  plays chess five to seven times a day during his recovery care. Keygan suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2.
(Photo Allison Power)
Vancouver Island teen ‘locked inside,’ battling to regain speech after severe brain bleed

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
The speculation and vacancy tax raised about $1.21 million in Sidney and North Saanich combined. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich and Sidney property owners paid $1.21 million in speculation and vacancy tax

Speculation and vacancy tax raised $6.5 million in Greater Victoria

The barge sank again on Jan. 8 and is still resting under water. (Bill McQuarrie photo)
Refloating of sunken Pot McNeill barge to resume in early February

This will be the second attempt at recovery after poor weather conditions caused barge to re-sink

Victoria police will be making numerous arrests throughout the day Jan. 27 as part of its #VicPDWarrantWednesday project. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Numerous arrests today part of Victoria police #WarrantWednesday project

VicPD says arrests part of warrant enforcement project

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

Tahsis has raised concerns about the condition of Head Bay Road with the provincial ministry of transportation. (Photo courtesy Martin Davis)
It’s 2021 and Tahsis still has to fight for good roads

Overuse by logging trucks, blind corners and potholes are still a reality for remote community

Most Read