The Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association recently announced they were dropping their law suit against the Vancouver Island Motor Circuit (VIMC). The Circuit promptly responded. In the interest of balanced reporting we have reproduced each statement without comment.
Each tells a different story. Readers are invited to make up their own minds.
SAHTLAM PLAINTIFFS RELEASE MOTORSPORT CIRCUIT FROM NUISANCE LAWSUIT
February 25, 2019 – Duncan, BC
The Sahtlam Neighbourhood Association (SNA) is pleased to announce that the nuisance suit against the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit (VIMC) has come to an end. The plaintiffs have released VIMC in exchange for a waiving of costs, including those awarded in a recent application.
Six Sahtlam residents filed the lawsuit in June 2017 claiming that noise from the nearby racetrack had robbed them of the use and enjoyment of their properties, lowered property values, and disturbed the peace and quiet of their rural residential neighbourhood. The settlement agreement was triggered when VIMC approached the plaintiffs in December 2018 asking to settle the matter. Although no agreement could be reached regarding acceptable noise limits, the plaintiffs decided the time was right to move away from a legal solution and towards a collaborative approach at the local level. Thus, the plaintiffs offered to settle without terms, and VIMC agreed to waive their costs.
“So much has changed since we filed this suit”, says Isabel Rimmer, plaintiff and president of the SNA.
“In June 2017 we were getting nowhere with VIMC or the Municipality of North Cowichan, and a lawsuit was the only way to bring attention to this important issue”, notes Rimmer, recalling that VIMC was approved without any community consultation or requirements for noise mitigation.
“Since filing our suit, there have been sweeping changes at the municipality in terms of both personnel and the overall attitude towards community consultation, and the need for litigation seemed much reduced.”
And while noise from VIMC continues to be a concern, the SNA acknowledges that the situation has improved somewhat since the track opened in April 2016.
“It’s a win for this community”, says Rimmer, “We have shown that a small group of area residents can stand against powerful corporate interests and an unresponsive local government and get them to take notice”.
The SNA plans to continue monitoring noise from VIMC while working with Mayor and Council on collaborative solutions to ongoing concerns. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood association can move forward with other advocacy work.
“Today’s decision allows us to direct our resources and fundraising efforts towards other important projects and causes in our community”, says Rimmer, “but we will remain vigilant in protecting our neighbourhood from intrusive noise”.
An Open Letter from Paul Rossmo, General Manager Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit
February 28, 2019
A small group of local residents filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against our family-owned business.
In their lawsuit, they claimed that we were operating illegally, making outrageous noise and destroying their property values.
The Courts disagreed, throwing out the first part of the lawsuit in September 2018 and awarding costs to us against the residents.
For the past four months, we have gone through discoveries, an exchange of information and facts. Because of these discoveries, the residents chose to withdraw and allow the rest of the lawsuit to be dismissed as if it were lost. If you do not believe this, just ask them to release the details we uncovered during the discovery process. We are not allowed to do so without their consent.
Despite all this, we took the high road and waived the costs that have been and would have been held against those people personally. That was the right decision to make, but difficult for us to do, given the misinformation, bullying and racist attacks that have been levied against the ownership of our facility.
We came to Cowichan to be part of it. We purchased land from the Municipality of North Cowichan. We applied, like anyone else, for a development permit, which the Court has now said was properly issued. We turned vacant industrial land into a modern vehicle test facility that pays local taxes, hires local people and has contributed over $150000 to local charities and non-profit organizations.
Look at the list of those we support and those we partner and do business with and ask yourself if we are bad neighbours.
We are here legally. We obey the law. And we continue to grow and share our good fortune with our local community.
With the lawsuit dismissed, everyone in Cowichan wins.
I’m proud that we do everything we can to ensure that everyone at the circuit respects our neighbours and that we are part of the Cowichan Valley community. This process has been very difficult for me because of the personal attacks our staff, customers and the many local nonprofit organizations we support have endured.
The harassment and bullying have to stop.
Partick Hrushowy is a forty-five year veteran of journalism and the communications field and he is the Editor of the Cowichan Post.