Court quashed the decision last year by North Cowichan to deny the VIMC a permit for its $36-million expansion plans. (File photo)

Court quashed the decision last year by North Cowichan to deny the VIMC a permit for its $36-million expansion plans. (File photo)

Court quashes North Cowichan’s decision to deny expansion at VIMC

Municipality ordered to reassess rezoning application

The Municipality of North Cowichan’s council will meet today (Nov. 10) to discuss the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s ruling that it failed to provide justification for the controversial decision to deny the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit its rezoning plans.

Mayor Al Siebring said it’s up to council whether it will appeal the decision, issued by Justice Diane MacDonald on Nov. 6, or to go back and redo the rezoning process for VIMC’s application.

“The court’s decision was based on a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada that was made before our judicial review was held in September,” Siebring said.

“That ruling stated that if a public institution is going to change a policy, they must explain why. Basically, we were entitled to make the decision we made, but we had to give the reasons for it. We were not aware of that at the time.”

RELATED STORY: MOTORSPORT CIRCUIT GOES TO JUDICIAL REVIEW OVER NORTH COWICHAN DEVELOPMENT PERMIT DENIAL

In her ruling, MacDonald said that for six years, North Cowichan supported the VIMC’s development and was satisfied that its uses complied with the zoning bylaw.

“In these circumstances, it was arbitrary for the council to diametrically disagree with a past interpretation of the zoning bylaw without explaining the basis for the disagreement,” she said.

“There was a reason, the uses were not compliant with the zoning bylaw, but no explanation. Not providing a justification in and of itself renders the decision unreasonable. It was incumbent on the municipality to justify the decision. Unfortunately, neither the council nor the underlying record explain to the (VIMC) the basis for the municipality’s complete reversal of its earlier decision. This lack of justification undermines public confidence in the rule of law and renders the decision unreasonable.”

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN DENIES MOTORSPORT CIRCUIT REQUEST FOR DEVELOPMENT PERMIT

MacDonald said council’s decision to deny the rezoning application is quashed, and the matter is remitted back to council.

“The council is to assess the application on its technical merits and reconsider it in light of these reasons,” she said.

North Cowichan’s director of planning Rob Conway sent a letter to the VIMC denying them a development permit for its $36-million expansion plans after a contentious, marathon public hearing that took two days to complete in October, 2019.

Council decided to not allow rezoning for the expansion — which would have included a new five-kilometre paved motor vehicle circuit, an off-road motor vehicle circuit, a new clubhouse and buildings for maintaining, repairing and storing motor vehicles — after that public hearing.

RELATED STORY: $50M LIABILITY WORRY HAS NORTH COWICHAN MAYOR ASKING FOR MOTORSPORT DO-OVER

Council again denied the rezoning after a second public hearing on the expansion plans was held in December, 2019.

Based on council’s decision on the rezoning after October’s public hearing, Conway said in his letter to the VIMC that he was “obliged” to deny the application for a development permit for the project.

“I appreciate that it is [your] position that the development proposed…is for the same land use as under the development permit issued by North Cowichan for phase one of the VIMC and, as such, there has been a past determination that the land use in compliance with (zoning),” Conway said in the letter.

“However, upon careful review, I have concluded that the proposed land use is not permitted [under zoning].”

But in her ruling, MacDonald said property owners have an expectation of consistency when they rely on established and longstanding representations and decisions by a municipality.

“When consistency is denied in these circumstances, property owners have a right to know why,” she wrote.

“That is particularly so where, as here, the prior decision and practices involved the very same parties, uses, zones, and zoning bylaw.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

municipal politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chemainus Communities In Bloom adopt-a-beds are located all around town. This one near the post office is still in pretty good shape, considering the time of the year. (Photo by Don Bodger)
It bears repeating to decorate for the holidays

Spray paint pine cones and arrange in a bowl for a coffee table centre

Pnina Benyamini strikes a yoga pose. (Photo submitted)
Devoted citizens worthy of praise

Valued community members will be missed

Rainforest Arts gallery manager Stephanie Allesia. (Photo by Craig Spence)
Campaign underway at Rainforest Arts to benefit Cowichan Women Against Violence

Everyone donating essential items or cash eligible for a draw for artist’s works

Some parents are concerned with the plans of the Cowichan Valley school district to drop one of its distance-learning options. (File photo)
Parents upset with loss of distance education program

School district says program being redesigned

Bob Higgins pulls the gate across on the elevator built inside his home. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Crofton man’s expertise earns international award with home-built elevator

Experience put to use in winning contest entry for furniture and home projects

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Most Read