North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. (Lexi Bainas/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

A $50M liability worry has North Cowichan mayor asking for Motorsport rezoning do-over

May be 2nd public hearing and a re-vote on Motorsport rezoning.

There may be a second public hearing and a re-vote on the rezoning of the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit property.

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring announced Monday that he is exercising his power to ask council to walk back their decision not to approve the rezoning and have council reconsider its vote, revealing that turning down the rezoning has opened the Municipality of North Cowichan up to a possible $50 million liability.

Council decided on Oct. 4, following two marathon nights of public hearing, to deny the rezoning due to community concerns about noise, environmental impacts, and First Nations objections.

RELATED STORY: FRACTIOUS TWO-DAY HEARING ENDS WITH A NO FOR COWICHAN MOTORSPORT EXPANSION

The application was denied in a 5-2 vote, with Siebring and Coun. Tek Manhas the only council members who voted for it.

Siebring said he hopes to be able to hold the next public hearing before the end of November.

“Now, to be clear, I’d rather have a mouth full of simultaneous root canals than hold another public hearing on a file that’s this contentious,” said Siebring.

“But I have struggled through a number of sleepless nights over this, and at the end of the day, the fact is that the community was unaware of the legal risks associated with the vote we took on this on the morning of Oct. 4. So that consideration wasn’t part of the public input that informed council’s decision.”

RELATED STORY: NOISE REPORTS ON COWICHAN MOTORSPORT CIRCUIT TAKE AIM AT EACH OTHER

Siebring said the municipality was sent a “demand letter” from the VIMC that was received on Oct. 15 which asks that a development permit for the expansion of the VIMC be issued based on what has already been allowed in phase one of the project.

The $36-million expansion is proposed to be built north of the existing 18.74-hectare site where the motor vehicle circuit and clubhouse are currently situated.

Phase-two of the facility on a 42.47 hectare site is proposed to include a new five-kilometre paved motor vehicle circuit, an off-road motor vehicle circuit, a new clubhouse and buildings for maintaining, repairing and storing motor vehicles.

“The letter claims that the VIMC spent $37 million to engineer and build phase one, and it implies that if we deny the application for phase two, that denial would also put the land use for phase one in jeopardy,” Siebring said.

“From their perspective, they’re saying that that either the use that they’re applying for is allowed in both phase one and phase two, or it’s potentially not allowed at all, which would ultimately force them to close their entire operation.”

Siebring said that if the development permit for phase two is not issued, the VIMC indicated that it will be bringing legal proceedings against North Cowichan and a lawsuit that may be in the range of $50 million.

He said the municipality does have insurance for such lawsuits, but it’s just a $20-million policy, which could leave North Cowichan with a $30-million uninsured liability.

RELATED STORY: NOISE MITIGATION TOP OF MIND FOR N. COWICHAN COUNCIL AS IT CONSIDERS MOTORSPORT CIRCUIT EXPANSION PROPOSAL

“A $30-million payout is equal to what we collect in taxes every year so a payout, if it were to come to that, would require a doubling of taxes,” he said.

Siebring said that on Oct. 25, he notified the municipality that he will exercise his authority as mayor under the Community Charter to initiate a reconsideration of the third reading for the phase-two expansion, and, with council’s agreement, that the vote be held after another public hearing.

“Assuming the public hearing goes ahead, it will give you (the public) another opportunity to have input on this file,” he said.

“But your input this time will be informed by the potential financial implications of this decision; implications which weren’t widely known or considered in the first public hearing.”

For Siebring’s complete announcement, click here.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

Nearly 20 individuals accessed LRCA’s cold weather shelter during 2020 snowstorm

Most individuals accessed the shelter for food, showers, laundry, and to warm up

Baby bear carving stolen from his family in Chemainus

Thief repeatedly kicked it and dislodged it from cement and rebar

Gas leak prompts mop-up response in Chemainus

Thorough check made of Croft Place before residents and business people return

Shoot the Moon pub passes public hearing stage

Rod Alsop and Jon Ludtke’s proposed pub is one step closer after a packed public hearing

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

‘Big money’ funding B.C. politics now mostly from taxpayers

Campaign targets $16 million and counting in ‘politician welfare’

Most Read