Development-zone amendment approved allowing motorsport circuit’s first track only

North Cowichan council has approved a comprehensive development zone that the mayor says clears up any uncertainty about what is permitted at Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit’s track.

The track opened off Highway 18 in June 2016, but there were questions about what uses were allowed under the existing municipal zoning.

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Mayor Al Siebring said Tuesday that the rezoning, adopted on Monday, ends that uncertainty.

Last month, council voted for the second time against allowing the Motorsport Circuit to expand to two tracks on its property. The first vote was held in October.

Neighbours had complained about noise from the track, while Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said the land is spiritually and historically important and he wanted to see government-to-government consultation.

Prior to the December vote, the Motorsport Circuit announced it would not go ahead with a rezoning application for expansion. It said in a letter that it did not want to proceed with a proposal that the municipal had initially requested and then refused.

North Cowichan decided to hold a public hearing in any case, drawing about 600 people last month.

The second hearing was held after the company threatened legal action. Siebring had speculated that if the municipality lost a lawsuit to the track’s owners, costs could be in the tens of millions of dollars.

A proposed comprehensive zone that would have applied to the existing track and the proposed second track was repealed at a December meeting. Instead, council gave initial approval of the zoning for the first track only. That amended bylaw was finalized this week.

Plans for the next phase of the track had called for a new five-kilometre paved circuit, an off-road circuit, a new clubhouse and buildings on 42.5 hectares next to the existing track.

Motorsport Circuit officials said the expansion was valued at $36 million and would have resulted in about 200 construction jobs and close to 30 full-time jobs.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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