It may be located outside the town’s boundaries but the community of Cowichan Lake could still benefit from the Vancouver Island Island Motor Sport Resort, Lake Cowichan town councillors said Dec. 15.
They first heard a brief report from Town CAO Joe Fernandez, who said that the development, [on Highway 18, just past the Tansor intersection], has gone ahead quite smoothly because the land had the right zoning in place when the owners bought it.
He explained he had recently attended a meeting of municipal administrators where the subject of the resort came up and told councillors he had learned a few more details about the private club being constructed.
“A German auto dealer consortium was looking for a home and more by accident than anything else found themselves approaching North Cowichan. They bought that property that sits off Highway 18.
“It [the resort] is set to open for business on May 20, 2016. They apparently have spent $20 million for Phase One. That’s how much they have pumped into the local economy and there’s more to come,” he said.
“They have also bought the Aerie Resort on the Malahat and there’s talk of a golf course to go up there, too. They are also going to build a helicopter pad at the site so people can just come in to the Island from Vancouver and elsewhere.
“It is occurring outside the Town of Lake Cowichan but we stand to benefit. I think we should support what’s happening outside of the town, too. If it happens inside the town, it’s better, but if it’s outside, it’s not so bad. Even if it happens in the regional district, it’s great. We’ll all benefit from it.”
Coun. Carolyne Austin said she had heard a bit about the club.
“This is a really elite place with memberships sold, possibly time shares. I don’t know if we’d be able to just walk in the gate and go there,” she said.
However, she also asked about tours of the facility.
“It might be good to say: ‘Hey, we’re from the Town of Lake Cowichan.’ I don’t know how many of them would come down the road to see what we have here but that’s what we used to do before: make our presence known,” she said.
Coun. Tim McGonigle was optimistic.
He said, “I anticipate a spin-off not only for North Cowichan and Duncan, Chemainus and the wine country, but also for our area with what we have to offer. I think that as an economic driver, this is a start for, again, looking at what the benefits might be, even if it is from outside our community.
“A $20 million investment so far is huge. I can only imagine what Phase Two will bring. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to drive on it but I’m sure there are virtual tours I could do. As for a tour, I’d definitely like one, but I’m also happy that this concept has found a place.”
Various aspects of it have been talked about for many years, dating back to the earliest calls for a “noise park,” McGonigle added.
Coun. Bob Day said, “If you haven’t been on their website yet, you should check it out. It’s amazing. There are games, music videos and virtual laps, too. It’s amazing that people are investing $20 million on this. I know a handful of people that are working there and it’s non-stop.”
Mayor Ross Forrest said, “the noise studies have shown that the noise level there will be less than the traffic going by on the highway. And think of how much Duncan Paving is probably making out of this, or anybody. And if you drive by, it’s a pretty big building they’re constructing. That’s costing money.
“Someone’s building it; the people doing that are either from the Valley or are staying in the Valley, so there is a huge economic impact from that.”