The results of the judicial review of the Municipality of North Cowichan’s decision last year to deny a development permit for the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit to expand its facility are not expected for months.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said the decision by the BC Supreme Court after the two-day review, held in a Vancouver courtroom on Sept. 9-10, is reserved at this time.
“It generally takes from three to six months for such decisions by the court to be announced and, right now, it’s a classic case of me not being able to talk about the issue at this time,” said Siebring, who attended the judicial review along with North Cowichan’s CAO Ted Swabey.
“I can say that fulsome arguments were made on both sides during the review. The loser of the judicial review process can appeal, so I expect it could be awhile before this is over.”
Siebring said it’s possible that with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, many judges may have had the time to catch up with their work on outstanding cases and that could see the decision on this case expedited, but pointed out he’s just speculating.
The municipality could face a liability of up to $60 million in a worst-case scenario in the dispute with the VIMC.
After two well-attended public hearings on VIMC’s expansion proposal held last November and December, North Cowichan’s council decided twice to deny the rezoning application due to community concerns about noise, environmental impacts, and First Nations objections.
The liability North Cowichan could face was spelled out in correspondence the municipality received from the VIMC’s lawyers, Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt Barristers & Solicitors, soon after the rezoning application was rejected.
It stated that when the VIMC bought the property from the municipality in 2016, it was based on the written assurances from North Cowichan, without any disclaimers, that the zoning for the intended uses “was appropriate”, and, based on that assurance, the VIMC invested more than $37 million to construct phase one of the facility and was fully intending and expecting to build phase two on adjacent lands.