Several residents of the rural Sahtlam area near Duncan arose early on Saturday, Aug. 11, to carry signs and peaceably protest against what they consider to be noise levels that are too high at the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit on Highway 18.
The protest was the latest salvo in a campaign led by the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association against noise from the track, which opened in 2016.
During the week of Aug. 27-31, at a date and time yet to be announced, the first segment of a lawsuit that deals with zoning that the SNA and six local residents have filed against the VIMC and the Municipality of North Cowichan in Victoria Supreme Court in June, 2017, is expected to be before a judge.
The lawsuit claims that the VIMC is creating excessive noise by engaging in activities that are in violation of North Cowichan’s zoning bylaws.
If the court decides after the upcoming hearing that VIMC is operating in violation of the current zoning, the motor circuit could be ordered to cease operations until the zoning is changed.
The VIMC has countered that it’s up to local governments to determine if a bylaw is being violated, not the courts.
According to the neighbourhood association’s submission to the courts, two-thirds of the VIMC’s property is not zoned for a race track, so the entire facility is not operating legally, and the Municipality of North Cowichan has been named in the civil suit for failing to enforce the zoning bylaw.
As for the second part of the lawsuit, which is not expected to be before the courts until Oct., 2019, the SNA’s submission states that the provincial nuisance law prohibits anyone from “substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of property”.
The SNA is claiming that VIMC is creating a nuisance by causing substantial and unreasonable noise.
Paul Rossmo, general manager of the VIMC, said he is disappointed that the group of neighbors have applied to the court to have the facility closed.
“We believe we have been good neighbours and that the jobs, tourism and community development in Cowichan has benefited the community,” he said
The Municipality of North Cowichan said it has no comment on the issue at this time.