The owners of the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit don’t see their court win as any kind of victory over the Municipality of North Cowichan.
Lorenzo Oss-Cech, a lawyer with Hutchison Oss-Cech Marlatt Barristers & Solicitors which is handling media relations for the GAIN Group that owns the VIMC, said the GAIN Group had always wanted a productive and beneficial relationship with the municipality.
“The owners didn’t want to go to court in the first place,” Oss-Cech said. “They always wanted to work with North Cowichan on this [$36-million] project.”
After a judicial review in September, the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s Justice Diane MacDonald ruled on Nov. 6 that North Cowichan failed to provide justification for its controversial decision last year to deny the VIMC a development permit for its expansion plans.
MacDonald ruled that North Cowichan council’s decision to deny the application is quashed, and the matter is remitted back to council which is ordered to reassess the application on its technical merits and reconsider it.
Oss-Cech said the GAIN Group is waiting for North Cowichan to decide what it will do before deciding its next steps.
“The owners don’t know what North Cowichan intends to do at this stage, and it’s hard to speculate,” he said.
After two well-attended public hearings on VIMC’s expansion proposal held last November and December, North Cowichan council decided twice to deny the application due to community concerns about noise, environmental impacts, and First Nations objections.
Council met shortly after MacDonald’s ruling to discuss the municipality’s next steps.
Mayor Al Siebring said North Cowichan’s lawyers require more time to study the ruling before making any recommendations on how to proceed.
“We have 30 days to decide whether we’ll appeal the ruling, or reconsider the application,” he said.
A report written by North Cowichan’s CAO Ted Swabey last December after the VIMC threatened legal action over the issue said the potential liabilities associated with the VIMC claims for damages can’t be ignored, and could have potentially devastating implications for North Cowichan and its taxpayers over the next 10 years and beyond.
Swabey said that if the worst-case scenario were to happen, the municipality could be saddled with a judgment as high as $60 million.
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