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Bylaw changes pending to address auto racing noise concerns at Saratoga Speedway

Comox Valley Regional District to amend noise control bylaw
File photo of a race day event at Saratoga Speedway.

The Comox Valley Regional District will amend its noise control bylaw to address objectionable noise from auto racing at Saratoga Speedway in Black Creek.

A local group dubbed the Saratoga Speedway Complex Concerned Citizens have made several presentations to the board about noise at the racetrack. At the June 28 meeting, the group requested the bylaw to specify Sunday as one of two days to close the track, and to limit noise at the property line to 65 decibels.

Track owners Rob and Lee Leighton had hoped to build 168 RV campsites at the Saratoga property, but withdrew the rezoning application due to the amount of pushback from area residents.

READ: Owners of Black Creek racetrack withdraw rezoning application

Area C director Edwin Grieve noted that sound from auto racing is traveling further than previous years due to the removal of trees and placement of sound walls.

“We aren’t heartless creatures here, but we have limited powers, especially through a noise bylaw,” said Grieve, who feels the issue would be better addressed through a land use planning bylaw.

Auto racing is a lawful, non-conforming use that is permitted on the Saratoga property. Alana Mullaly, general manager of planning and development services, recommended the board “walk a very fine line” when regulating use through a noise bylaw, and introducing regulations that would preclude the operation of this lawful use.

“It is a bit of a balancing act,” Mullaly said. “We do feel there is some exposure (to the owner taking issue) if we start to tip over onto the other side of that line.”

“I think what we have before us is a compromise bylaw,” Grieve said.

An amended noise control bylaw could be used to regulate auto racing noise, said Amanda Yasinski, manager of bylaw compliance. Although the CVRD can apply noise regulations to loud businesses and industries, this does not mean it can preclude the normal operation of the use.

Proposed amendments include a definition of highway end-of-the-week, clarifying venue exemptions and prohibiting noise past 8 p.m.

The three rural directors approved a staff recommendation to limit auto racing noise from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., no more than five days a week, with a 30-day grace period to allow the owner to adjust operational needs and schedules.

RELATED: Further noise complaints about Black Creek racetrack

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