Project update – December 2017

Project update – December 2017

WHO KNEW!

Who knew it would take this long?  The good thing is that we’re still moving in the right direction.  I thought that once the City realized the economic benefit of this project, they’d get behind the project and make it happen… well, in fact they did.  What we didn’t realize was the time that the process would take.  Our anticipated timeline was not based on knowledge of all the steps we’d have to take.  The following information will recap what’s happened so far, and what we must do from here on in.

 

HISTORY

The Vancouver Island MotorSports Association (VIMSA) was created to bring fans & racers together to show support for a permanent motorsport facility on Vancouver Island, centered around a drag strip.  We are committed to develop a facility where racing can take place safely for the enjoyment of racers and race fans.  Incorporated on January 13th, 2016 as a not-for-profit society in the Province of British Columbia, we are entirely run by volunteers.  The founding members met in a garage in Campbell River in late 2015 and fashioned a plan that, so far, has shown great promise.  We searched the Island for an appropriate location and ended up back in Campbell River at the local airport on land that is owned by the City.

Why Campbell River?  The land is vacant, flat, accessible to the highway, and because it’s at the airport, noise… one of the reasons finding a location has been so tough, isn’t a real problem.  Noise is a fundamental part of the excitement in racing… the more noise the better!  Also, because the land has already been cleared and moved around, the environmental impact has been dealt with to a certain extent.  The proximity to the highway, and being located within 3 hours from all parts of the Island, allows our fans and racers easy access.

More importantly, the City has welcomed our proposal.  The Airport Commission has officially recommended moving forward with the project and urged the Mayor and Council to support it too.  After numerous meeting with the City, we clearly understand the process we need to comply with to get things moving.  Because the City will continue to own the land, we must understand that following the approval process is mandatory. 

What’s Next?  The following describes the process:

Overall Checklist of Requirements for the Motorsports Park at YBL

  • Prepare a Feasibility Study which includes a preliminary capital and operating budget with projected expenses and revenues (see attached)
  • Conduct a Noise Assessment and Control Study COMPLETE
  • Conduct a Traffic/Parking Impact Study
  • Conduct an Environmental Site Assessment, including Riparian Area Assessment (fish-bearing stream and wetland are nearby the site location) COMPLETE
  • Prepare a Business Plan which includes a Capital and Operating Budget with projected expenses and revenues for the first 5 years of the project (see attached)
  • Prepare a formal Request to Council to approve the proposal as submitted (Feasibility Study and Business Plan)
  • If approved, proceed to application to amend the Zoning Bylaw to allow for a motorsports use in the A-1 Zone (or a particular parcel within the A-1 Zone), with a definition of a “motorsports park” added, and move to public hearing process
  • If approved, City staff proceed with drafting a Memorandum of Understanding, based on the approved operating model and will then execute a land lease agreement
  • Meet funding milestones (80% of funds are raised or guaranteed in writing prior to commencing construction)
  • Begin Construction

 

Let’s look at the remaining “To Do List” step by step:

Feasibility Study – Because I believed the City would want an unbiased report, I urged them to do this part.  Obviously, we believe that the project is feasible, so a report coming from VIMSA may not be seen as accurate.  However, the City requires that we provide it.  Ideally an unbiased party with experience in providing the City with this type of information would be an asset.  We have discussed this with McElhanney Consultants and are expecting a quote for their services.  One of our members has compiled the information needed and will provide it to the consultants to speed up the process.  The Feasibility Study will include a site review, capital budget, operating budget (5 years), funding model, timeline, management oversight & operating model, liability & insurance, utility requirements and a “Purpose and Cost/Benefit Analysis” (A discussion of why you want to do your project, who will benefit from its completion, what is the impact of not proceeding, what are the anticipated economic/financial benefits of the development, what are the social/other benefits, etc.)

Traffic/Parking Impact Study  This study covers everything from spectator parking, participant pit area requirements, roadway improvements and traffic control to make accessibility comfortable and not interfere with airport operations.  Like the Feasibility Study, an unbiased party with experience in providing the City with this type of information would be an asset.  We have discussed this with McElhanney Consultants and are expecting a quote for their services.  Factors that will affect this study are expected participant and spectator counts, and the impact on the airport and airport tenants.

Business PlanOnce the Feasibility Study is complete, and if its conclusions are positive that the project can and should be carried out, the Study’s information is used to complete the Business Plan. A Business Plan is a blueprint for implementing the actions, already deemed feasible by the Feasibility Study, that are necessary to complete the project.  The business plan takes all the information in the feasibility study and expands it in detail.

Request to Council – Prepare a formal Request to Council to approve the proposal as submitted (Feasibility Study and Business Plan)

Zoning Bylaw – If approved, proceed to application to amend the Zoning Bylaw to allow for a motorsports use in the A-1 Zone (or a particular parcel within the A-1 Zone), with a definition of a “motorsports park” added, and move to public hearing process

Land Lease Agreement – If approved, City staff proceed with drafting a Memorandum of Understanding, based on the approved operating model and will then execute a land lease agreement. (at $0 or minimal cost)

Funding – Meet funding milestones (80% of funds are raised or guaranteed in writing prior to commencing construction)

Begin Construction

 

SO, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

We asked City staff for a “best case scenario” timeline.  Here is their response:

If we can get the Feasibility Study, Traffic/Parking Study and Business Plan to them in December 2017, staff will review it and best case get it to Council in February 2018.  To pass through three readings in Council will take at least until April 2018.  Next step will be an application to change the Zoning Bylaw to add motorsports park, add motorsports park zoning to A-1 Zone, and go through the public hearing process.  This will take well into mid-summer.  Finally, we will receive a land lease agreement, hopefully by September 2018.  Our construction start date will be dependent on our ability to show that we have raised 80% of the cost of the project, either in funds or guaranteed pledges.

 

FUND RAISING “If your dreams don’t scare you… they’re not big enough”  Mohammed Ali

Our business plan will include a cost for the minimum requirement to open for the first race.  It may not include many of the niceties we want.  We’ll probably have temporary washrooms, tower, and maybe no grandstands.  Whatever the number, we need to have 80% funded or guaranteed in writing before we can start.

We’re working on the legalities of how we do our fundraising and plan to have documentation and brochures for everyone.  At this time, we welcome letters of support from individuals, businesses, car clubs, and any other sources that will show us where to start.  We will also explore funding from government and economic development agencies.  It would be great to have all the monies in place by the time we get to the land lease stage.

 

WE’RE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL?

Although things aren’t moving as fast as we want… they are moving in the right direction.  We plowed ahead, hoping that once the City realized the “Economic Benefit” of our proposal, they’d wave a magic wand, push everything through and we’d be on our way.  Not the case. Even though they are supportive, there is a process… and because they are responsible to the taxpayers, all the rules must be followed.  In their defence, it was our expectations that made it seem like the process was going too slow.  The real issue was identifying the process and then getting down to work providing what they are asking for.  We are doing that now.

It’s not quite two years since VIMSA was established.  We are nearing our goal of having 1000 supporters to show that the demand is there and that “you” are serious about the need for a permanent drag racing and motorsports facility on the Island.  We have had a favorable response from the Airport Commission and individually from the Mayor and Council members, but we still have a long way to go.  With your support, we can make it happen!

“ Many people who have failed in life did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison 

5 Comments
  • Larry Hopps
    Posted at 03:59h, 08 December Reply

    Hi Jim . Great news for sure . Maybe I,ll be able to race here before my 70th birthday.lol Anyway wasjust wondering why I haven’t received my dues renewal and also I think it would be a great idea to up the dues to $100 to help things along. I know some people may think this is a bit extravagant but I think most of us can afford it. Larry Hopps C&L racing.

  • John Magi
    Posted at 15:00h, 08 December Reply

    Western speedway is fun but not geared toward drag racing… and getting to the mainland is expensive!! I love the idea and am looking forward to us island folks being able to enjoy our sport!!
    Great work people and count me in!

  • Frances Lake
    Posted at 05:51h, 21 December Reply

    Although a noise assessment has been completed what were the results? What were the results compared to?

    There is no mention of Nav Canada, what is their position on having an illuminated drag strip in close proximity to an active airport?
    Thanks

    • Jim Johnson
      Posted at 17:43h, 21 December Reply

      Thanks for your interest in the project. The noise assessment was compared to the ambient noise near the residential area in Campbell River closest to the airport. The finding were that a lull in the ambient noise was needed to recognize the sound of the test vehicle (a 180+mph race car). Some of the airplane activity recorded during the test was louder. All measurements at the airport were done near the runway.

      There are no plans for illumination. It should be noted thought that the location of the racing surface compared to the runway is similar to where Airport Road is located currently, and it is illuminated.

  • Terry Rate
    Posted at 22:07h, 21 February Reply

    Keep up the fantastic work. We look forward to a permanent facility on Vancouver Island.

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VIMSA brings motorsports enthusiasts together to create a permanent drag racing facility on Vancouver Island.