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Land owners voice opposition to planned Motorsports Park

By: Andrew Szekeres

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 08, 2014 10:48 am

Residents who live in the area surrounding a proposed motorsports park northeast of Airdrie voiced their opposition April 30 at the Airdrie Agricultural Centre.
Residents who live in the area surrounding a proposed motorsports park northeast of Airdrie voiced their opposition April 30 at the Airdrie Agricultural Centre.
ANDREW SZEKERES/Rocky View Publishing

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Residents who live in the area surrounding the new proposed Rockyview Motorsports Park (RMP), to be located half a mile northeast of the city, met at the Airdrie Agriculture Centre on April 30 to voice their opposition to the project.

Local resident Doreen Garland was among those who helped organize the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to gain insight on how the majority of residents feel about the plans for the new RMP, according to Garland.

“We organized this meeting because people in the area are concerned about this new proposed Rockyview Motorsports Park and the impact it will have,” Garland said.

Councillors Lois Habberfield and Greg Boehlke were invited to the meeting but said they missed the meeting because of previous engagements.

The proposed 640-acre facility would include a 4.0-kilometre road course designed by German designer TILKE GmbH.

Among those who attended were farmers and acreage owners. The turnout exceeded expectations for the organizers with between 40 and 60 people attending. Janet Patriquin, the acting manager of the farmer’s advocate office of Alberta was also there.

According to Dominic Young, president of RMP, representatives from his organization were not invited to the meeting. Rocky View Weekly could not confirm as of press time if organizers sent an invitation to RMP.

“It’s disappointing to me that these folks decided not to meet without us,” Dominic Young, president of RMP said. “I think there’s a lot of issues that are being blown out of proportion.”

Each resident was given a maximum of three minutes to speak on the issue either for or against the RMP. Nearly all who attended spoke out against the raceway.

Most of the complaints centred around potential issues such as increased traffic, garbage, light pollution, water pollution, trespassing and above all the transformation of agricultural land into commercial land.

Russ Fletcher has a farmed on land near the RMP location all of his life.

“This how I make my living,” Fletcher said.

“They want to take agricultural land out of production and that’s not good for anyone.”

According to Young, that is not the case.

“Not all the land is being lost to our development,” Young said. “Wherever we can we’ll be preserving that agricultural way of life.”

Young added that a joint venture with Olds College will help preserve wetlands and assist in agriculture.

Another potential positive for agriculture Young mentioned was the ability to use excess water for irrigation.

Fletcher was also concerned about what will happen when he needs to move farming equipment on local roads.

“It’s a problem right now,” Fletcher said. “People don’t realize how big your equipment is or how slow you move.”

Fletcher added that while he tries to pick times of the day that would be safer such as early morning during daylight, he’s still had many close-calls with people nearly hitting his equipment.

Young mentioned upgrading the Highway 567 intersection with RR 291 as well as busing people in could help with keeping traffic low. Though Fletcher said he thinks the adjustments will only increase the traffic.

Fletcher currently rents the land that he uses from the Waterhouse family. Dale Waterhouse spoke on behalf of his family whose land was recently incorporated into Airdrie.

Among some of Waterhouse’s concerns were an increase of garbage, trespassing and other illegal activities on his field.

“On all of the issues that relate to how our users of the facility interact with the community, we’ll be putting in education programs and messaging for people to be very respectful of the community around us,” said Young.

Young also mentioned the Calgary Police Service is in partnership with the facility and will have a full-time operation at the site.

Local farmer John McMurray wanted to know why this area had been selected in particular.

“The track would be so much closer to hospitals, fire services and ambulances if it was in east Balzac and not here,” McMurray said.

McMurray also said that Rocky View County would likely still receive benefits if the track was moved closer to Balzac then north of Airdrie.

Young said Balzac was not an ideal location. Young wanted an area that was easily accessible, but also more suited to the plans for the RMP.

“The County has spent a lot of money putting water and sewer infrastructure into that area,” Young said.

“We at the facility don’t need that infrastructure.”

Young said the facility will be self-sustaining for water and sewage.

An invitation-only meeting was held on May 1 (after press time) by the developers to meet and listen to the residents who live adjacent to the proposed racetrack.

“Some people who came wanted to know more about the project before they reached a forgone conclusion,” Young said.

Residents, who attended the April 30 meeting, plan to send letters to council before May 16 to share their concerns.

Young said he hope plans for the track will come before council sometime this fall.

Garland suggested other people who would like their voice to be heard on the issue, to contact Rocky View council, their MLAs and the RMP developers.

The Rocky View Weekly attempted to contact Habberfield for comment but did not receive a response as of press time.

For more information on the project, visit www.rockyviewmotorsports.com


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