Members of the Saratoga Speedway Complex Concerned Citizens have again appealed to regional directors to alleviate what they say is excessive noise from the racetrack.
Jonathan Brenner, who has raised the issue several times with the CVRD, said the volume and frequency of noise is such that friends and relatives no longer want to visit because they can’t carry on a conversation in backyards.
“You need to start protecting this community and the individuals in it,” Brenner said at the June 13 Electoral Area Services Committee meeting.
Another resident requested a noise bylaw that would “allow us to respectively co-exist with the speedway.” The woman, who lives 1.6 kilometres from Saratoga, knew about the racetrack when she moved to the area. She doesn’t mind the sound of cars in the distance, but says the racing now sounds like a jet engine in her backyard.
“We have lived here for 40 years, and it has never been that bad or that frequent,” another resident, Heather Schroeder, said in a letter.
Earlier in the year, track owners Rob and Lee Leighton withdrew a rezoning application to build 168 RV campsites at the property.
Area C director Edwin Grieve thought progress was being made until the application was withdrawn. He noted a memo of understanding about practice times and race days.
“That’s when I think there could have been progress made,” Grieve said. “Now, clearly the gloves are off.”
Area B director Arzeena Hamir asked if the group has discussed the MOU with the Leightons.
“The MOU wasn’t presented to us,” said Brenner, noting unscheduled practices occur any time of day except Wednesdays after 4 p.m. “That’s not acceptable to have every single day of the week racing.”
According to Brenner, an agreement dating back to 1972 between the speedway and the CVRD specifies that practice periods shall be limited to one evening per week, terminating no later than 8:30 p.m.
Due to the broad ability of the proponent to use the legal non-conforming status, Grieve said there is little leverage of power for directors to bear. Since the status quo is unattainable, he said the district needs to consider noise bylaws.
“We absolutely can regulate noise … using hours with restrictions, including noise from auto racing,” director of bylaw compliance Amanda Yasinski said. “There is no noise bylaw that applies to this property.”
Area A director Daniel Arbour does not like the direction the operator has taken in terms of increased activity and noise.
“I understand their frustration … but treating this as a highway in the 21st century is not going to stand for very long,” Arbour said.
Grieve hopes that Leighton could volunteer some concessions. He also encourages residents to contact Leighton in an effort to reach a mutual agreement.
“We need to find some way of wringing it in,” Grieve said.