The West Coast ATV Racing Club wants to establish a training facility at a property in Whiskey Creek.
The club has applied for a temporary use permit from the Regional District of Nanaimo on behalf of the BC government as the targeted location, approximately 476 hectares in size, is Crown land.
The RDN’s Electoral Areas Services Committee, at its meeting on June 8, voted to receive the community engagement and written submissions report regarding the application.
The club’s plan is to use the property that is located in Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) adjacent to Highway 19 near 3805 Melrose Rd., as a practice and training facility. An accessory campground is also included in the proposal to be used mainly by participants or spectators.
RDN manager of long range planning Paul Thompson said the property is already a very busy place as it is actively used for off-road motorized vehicles such as ATVs and motorcycles. It is also located far from any residential areas.
As the property is Crown land, it is subject to local government regulations and a number of conditions will be attached to the Crown licence and will be recognized in the temporary use permit. That will include health, safety measures and the hours of operation.
Club representatives Oliver Sayah and Brad Davis made a presentation to the committee about their plans. The proposed development will include a track, obstacles and a parking area for recreational vehicle camping.
There will also be shipping containers for storage, as well as restoration of the vegetation on the site, and a groundwater storage tank to mitigate any dust from the track.Sayah pointed out there’s no place on the Island where people with ATVs can go with their family and train in a closed, controlled environment.
Safety ATV instructors, Sayah added, can’t find places where they can provide training and instruction to people.
“That’s where this whole process started almost four years ago with the Ministry of Forests and we followed all their different rules and requirements that they’ve asked for along the way. And then that leads us over to where we are today,” said Sayah.
Sayah indicated the club has a safety plan that would require riders to strictly adhere to and also sign waivers. That includes wearing helmets, elbow and knee pads, and boots. They plan to ride two to three times a month, from 9 a.m. to 6 pm. He added when there is a high forest fire danger risk, the facility will be closed.
In order to minimize the traffic going through Melrose Place or any of the residential communities, Sayah said they’re recommending accessing the training facility via Claymore Road West route.
Jim Moir, a retired RCMP member from Campbell River and a chief instructor through Canada’s Safety Council for ATV and snowmobiling, endorsed the club’s proposal. He spoke to the committee and told them that he conducts operator safety training courses but has found it difficulty to find places to teach and train people on Vancouver Island. He holds the courses in Vancouver and in the Interior.
Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) director Bob Rogers supported the club’s proposal.
“It’s important to have sites like this available rather than just having people utilizing these and doing training and so on, or having the events without any potential for some safeguards,” said Rogers. “And I am reminded of that particularly during this fire situation.”
The committee voted unanimously to recommended the RDN board approve the temporary use permit and to direct staff to notify residents nearby the proposed ATV facility site on the date it will be voted on by the board.