The Court of Appeal rules it was okay for North Cowichan to refuse permission to upgrade the motorsport circuit

The BC appeals court sided with the North Cowichan Township in its decision to deny the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit permission to build a track on its property.

In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that North Cowichan’s council was prudent to withhold an extension permit despite prior approval of a building permit for the first phase of the line.

“I am satisfied with the decision of the court,” said Mayor Al Siebring, adding that it was a justification for the fact that the council’s process was in order.

Siebring said it was really up to the interpretation of the zoning, and while it was reasonable for North Cowichan employees to grant planning permission the first time, it was also reasonable for a council to refuse planning permission for the same land at a later date could .

Peter Trzewik, partner of the GAIN Group, which operates both motorsport and luxury car dealers, said that the decision is made easy.

In an interview, Trzewik said they have not yet decided whether to move to the Canadian Supreme Court.

“We’re not dissatisfied with what we have, but I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said.

Trzewik says he often reminds himself and his employees what the company wanted to do from the start.

“It was never intended to be a racetrack and it didn’t have to be. We don’t need big things for us, our customers enjoy what they have, ”he said. “Were we excited to build a second phase? Secure. But it’s not our core business and our customers are enjoying the way it is now. “

Vancouver Island Motorsport had planned a $ 36 million expansion for its second phase, which would have included a five-kilometer paved racetrack, an off-road track, a new clubhouse, and vehicle storage and repair buildings. The expansion would have taken place next to Phase 1 to 42.47 hectares.

Trzewik said the company already had more than enough on its plate by preparing the route, dealerships and a resort hotel for what is expected to be a strong recovery year in 2022.

“The track as it is is going great, so we didn’t think about it much,” he said when asked if they were disappointed with the appeals court’s decision.

However, he said the ruling seems strange as it sends the message to developers that a future council has the right to withdraw it even if they get a building permit on a piece of land. “I suspect the developer community may be more shocked than we are,” he said.

The case was brought before the appellate court earlier this year after North Cowichan was ordered by the BC Supreme Court last fall to reconsider its rejection of the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit expansion offer.

The municipal council had approved the first phase, which was opened in 2016, but refused in 2019 with little reason to build the extension on adjacent industrial land.

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