There is a heated debate in the Cowichan Valley about the future of the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit (VIMC).
A public hearing, attended by 650 people, will continue Thursday after running five hours on Tuesday night.
The facility wants to expand so more drivers can test their limits.
“I wouldn’t say we’re all losing sleep over it but this is a very difficult land use decision,” said Al Siebring, North Cowichan’s Mayor.
The Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit wants to rezone land beside it’s current facility.
It would log 40 hectares to build a new five-kilometre paved track, a circuit for off-road vehicles and several buildings.
Noise is the primary concern for many of the neighbours who say the current noise from the track is already affecting their quality of life.
“Despite VIMC’s assurances in their application we don’t feel that they have any data to suggest that the acoustic issues will be dealt with at all,” said Isabel Rimmer, President of the Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association.
Some neighbours say the noise isn’t so bad.
There are also environmental concerns as well.
Four local chambers of commerce are among those supporting the track expansion.
“We see now the people that are coming to have that experience on the circuit are going to the restaurants, coming in here, are going to our wineries and are seeing the beauty in the valley that we do and are taking advantage of that,” said Julie Scurr, past president of the Duncan North Cowichan Chamber of Commerce.
Cowichan Tribes says it hasn’t taken a position but wants to be involved.
“We are looking at the possibility of working with the Municipality of North Cowichan on our issues that we have before we make a decision. Cowichan Tribes wants government to government consultation,” said William “Chip” Seymour, the band’s chief.
North Cowichan’s mayor says climate change has also been raised.
“Should we be promoting a track that’s running a bunch of vehicles that are burning fuel? And the counter of that from a lot of people is yeah but if you look at Porche and Mercedes and those companies they are on the leading edge of developing electric vehicles and zero-emission vehicles and within 10 years, you’re not going to have those internal combustion engines there anyways,” said Siebring.
The Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit declined a request for an interview on Wednesday.
North Cowichan Council is expected to make their decision after the public hearing concludes tomorrow night.