This photo by Douglas Waller shows a Crash To Pass feature race that included 15-foot Fiberglas boats.

This photo by Douglas Waller shows a Crash To Pass feature race that included 15-foot Fiberglas boats.

Comox Valley directors approve second reading of contentious application

A group of Black Creek residents delivered a second presentation against a rezoning application for 168 campsites at Saratoga Speedway, March 8 at the Comox Valley Regional District board meeting; however, two of the three rural directors voting on the matter maintained their desire to hear from the community.

Last month, the Saratoga Speedway Complex Concerned Citizens (SSCCC) appealed to the Electoral Area Services Committee to consider the amount of pushback about the application from track owner Rob Leighton. The group says some residents are considering moving from the area due to the increased frequency and volume of noise at the track.

“This is not a rezoning bylaw about a campsite,” SSCCC member Kim Stubblefield said Tuesday. “If approved, we are endorsing the growth of auto racing and drag racing. It is nonsense to claim the proposal has nothing to do with the speedway.”

The group says the application contains misconceptions about economic benefit — “an attempt to soften the blow of unwanted development” — and local groundwater availability.

The SSCCC notes that residents around North America have long been fighting against excessive noise at race tracks. Group member Niels Holbek said it became challenging to converse outside, even inside at times, when the new owners took over the track.

“The CVRD has a duty to investigate these matters, and not rely on the developer’s information and assurances,” Hollingshead said.

Comox director Ken Grant asked about the speedway portion of the application being grandfathered in. Alana Mullaly, general manager of planning and development, said the speedway has lawful non-conforming status, meaning that use can continue on the property, despite it not being recognized in the way the applicant is seeking.

Curtis Scoville, who is the alternate director for the Puntledge-Black Creek electoral area but who spoke Tuesday as an Area C resident, lives 640 metres from the track. He encourages second reading of the application, which prompts a public hearing. He feels it is important to allow every resident in the community to express their opinion.

“How else is it going to receive a public consultation process?” said Scoville, who believes “an overly zealous delegation” has undermined the discipline of the process.

Area C director Edwin Grieve and Area A director Daniel Arbour voted in favour of second reading while Area B director Arzeena Hamir is opposed.

“In the very least, I want to hear from everyone, and the only way is through a public hearing,” Grieve said. “I think it’s important we take a step back and let this unfold.”

“I’m still hesitant to move this forward,” said Hamir, noting the CVRD does not have a noise bylaw specific to race tracks. She would prefer to see a new proposal addressing the issues raised by neighbours before hosting a public hearing.

Comox Valley Regional District