29 Dec 2019 Year End Message
Well, 2019 has been quite a year. We’ve gone from highs to lows… but it’s looking good again. We’ve achieved our 1000 member goal. Thank you to everyone. Each of you helped show the demand for a permanent drag racing facility on the Island. Your ongoing support is needed to make this project a reality. 2020 could be our fundraising year for building on a piece of private land!
Here are the highlights:
- January 2019 – Approval received from Nav Canada for the Campbell River Airport project.
- February – Work proceeded on the OCP amendment and development permit
- March 24th – AGM was well attended and gave encouragement that the Campbell River Airport location was closer than ever to approval.
- April 12th – City News Release City Council votes against the airport location.
- April 24th – VIMSA News Release asks, “Is There a Better Location?”
- May – City creates “Drag Racing Facility Select Committee” to find an alternate location.
- June – VIMSA meets with Chief of Homalco First Nation who confirms his support for a motorsports facility as it would be an economic opportunity for the Homalco people.
- June – VIMSA enters discussions with private landowner concerning land near Cranberry Lane & Highway 19 as possible site.
- July – Preliminary meeting with Area C representative encourages proceeding.
- July – VIMSA has several discussions with the landowner concerning size of property and obtaining further land to accommodate a motorsports facility.
- August – Preliminary sketches of proposed drag strip prepared and discussed with landowner.
- September – VIMSA applies for $50,000 grant from the City to reimburse expenses regarding airport location.
- October – City approves $50,000 grant with conditions. (See details below)
- November – Landowner seeks to acquire additional land from neighbouring forest company.
- November – VIMSA receives over $34,000 from the City of Campbell River as part of the grant.
- November – OCP amendment application fees of $4,635.00 refunded to VIMSA.
- Next AGM – March 2020 – term is up for president and secretary – candidates welcomed!
Details – City Goes from Encouragement to Rejecting the Airport Location.
As 2019 opened, we were on a roll. We received approval from Nav Canada and were making progress with the OCP amendment and hoping to get a development permit soon. At the AGM we were encouraged by the comments from the Mayor and the two First Nation Chiefs that attended. Nothing could possibly go wrong… right? We were in disbelief when we received the News Release saying the airport location was rejected. This stunning reversal came on the heels of mixed messages from various staff departments, concerns over noise raised by some businesses and residents, and the wording of the 1966 Crown grant which created the airport built by the Federal Government.
This prompted a VIMSA News Release rebutting the concerns and we believe led to the creation of the Drag Racing Facility Select Committee. This committee was made up of two elected City officials (Charlie Cornfield and Kermit Dahl), two representatives of VIMSA (Jim Johnson and Dan Wickham) and one “community builder” (Kris Mailman).
City staff provided search support and legal description information on the possible sites.
The objective was to find a location in or near Campbell River that would accommodate the racing facility. Six or seven sites were looked at, but none fit the bill… usually in the Agricultural Land Reserve, or not large enough, or too hard to get to. The committee disbanded after several meetings where the locations were discussed and rejected.
A New Location?
This process did get the word out. Consequently, we received an offer from a landowner of a potential site south of Campbell River near the Cranberry Lane turnoff on the Inland Island Highway. Nothing has been formalized, but the landowner is interested and is working on acquiring more land to accommodate the facility. We are very early in this process and will give details as they come available. As always there are issues that must be addressed but after looking carefully at the site, we are excited about its potential. Close the freeway, easy access, a natural sound berm, and still close enough to Campbell River to provide necessary services. Even better, we have met with the Regional District area director and he has indicated his support for the facility. Like any site, government is involved and must approve, but this site meets all our criteria.
We are waiting for the landowner to complete discussions with the neighbouring forest company on the acquisition of further land to accommodate the proposed facility. Preliminary sketches and geotechnical drawings have been reviewed. The proposed site is relatively flat, with excellent soil substrata upon which to construct a drag strip, return road and parking. The cost of construction should be less than the estimate for the airport site. Power and water are close by.
Details – VIMSA Applies for a Grant
Needless to say, we were shocked and devastated by the council decision to reject the airport location. A lot of time and money had been invested in the airport proposal. The City had given us a specific checklist of things to do and suggested that using a consultant would be essential for success. As a not-for-profit society, we felt that we had a good case to ask for some sort of compensation. Our discussion with City representatives regarding this led to the suggestion we request a grant to further our efforts to establish a racing facility in the Campbell River area. We presented our case to Council’s Committee of the Whole. Because we followed the step by step checklist provided by the City, we incurred direct costs of $34,084.46. We estimate additional that our costs to operate since inception would add up to well over the $50,000 asked for. We also asked for the refund of the application fees for the development permit and OCP amendment in the amount of $4,635.00.
At the October 21st Council meeting, City Council endorsed their decision to award the grant of up to $50,000. We have received a cheque from the City for $34,084.46. The City will also reimburse up to $15,915.54 upon submission of receipts for work at the Cranberry Lane site. The City refunded the $4,635.00 application fees as well. Although the time is lost, we have funds to continue the pursuit.
AGM March 2020 – Get Your Election Signs Ready! Candidates Wanted!
It’s that time again. My term as President is up. I strongly encourage the need for “new blood”. Succession planning is very important for any organization to stay strong. This is a volunteer (unpaid) position. The most important qualification is a burning desire to see this project through to the end. Here are a few items on the “to do’ list:
- Improve communication with the membership
- Encourage members participation in promoting the project
- Recruit all Island auto enthusiast clubs etc. to become a united force supporting the project
- Work with the landowner to develop a plan for construction and operation of the project
- Fund raising for the construction project
- Control the release of news maintaining a positive approach
- Create a web-based VIMSA Information Technology system for all aspects of the operation
- ….and I’m sure much more
The secretary term is also up. Tina has expressed an interest in continuing, but new candidates are encouraged and welcome.
Submitted by Jim Johnson, President – Vancouver Island MotorSports Association
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