Threat of lawsuit has North Cowichan reconsidering race track expansion

WatchThe highly controversial expansion of the Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit goes to a public hearing in Cowichan tonight. Opinions are already heated about the project that's caused a lot of noise for neighbours.

Jack MacNeill lives for the tranquillity of country life.

After 38 years in the RCMP responding to car crashes, the peace and quiet helps the retired staff sergeant deal with PTSD that’s revved by the sounds of revving engines and screeching tires.

“The sounds of screeching tires, I hear it like somebody’s going to crash here,” said Jack MacNeill.

Yet after receiving a medal of valour for his service in 2018, his retirement has become filled with the triggering sounds of his life in the force all over again because the Vancouver Island Motor Sports Circuit is racing cars just over one kilometre from his hobby farm.

“And that track on a bad day is a real problem for me,” said MacNeill.

So MacNeill is one of hundreds of people standing up against the proposed expansion of the track, which would triple its size.

The planned expansion was voted down months ago, but it is going to a second public hearing and vote Monday night because the Motor Sports Circuit’s owners, the GAIN group, has threatened to sue the District of North Cowichan for up to $60 million dollars.

In a letter to council GAIN’s lawyer writes, the lawsuit will “…have dire financial consequences for North Cowichan.”

“I advise that the patience with my client’s ownership is running very thin. Should this matter land in court, by rough calculations my client’s damages will exceed $60 million dollars.”

“I said we need to reconsider the vote be took on October 4th,” said North Cowichan’s Mayor Al Siebring.

“And that’s what we’re doing tonight.”

Siebring said it would be the biggest lawsuit waged against the community of 28,000 people ever.

“It’s a 133 per cent tax increase if we pay it in one shot,” said Siebring.

“If they get the full $60 Million, now those are two big ifs,”

Whether the threat of a lawsuit is a bluff or will result in a devastating economic impact to taxpayers has yet to be seen.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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