Campbell Valley Regional Park users square off against auto enthusiasts over Langley Speedway

    1 of 3 2 of 3

      Members of Metro Vancouver's environment and parks committee will vote later this week on whether to kill a proposal to revive the half-mile Langley Speedway.

      The regional district staff have recommended not proceeding with a feasibility study, which could clear the way to allow auto racing in Campbell Valley Regional Park.

      The unsolicited bid from the Langley Speedway Historical Society has generated opposition from some park users, including Joanne Braithwaite, who likes taking her dog and horse along the trails.

      "It's a crazy thing to put a car racetrack in a beautiful nature park," Braithwaite told in an interview at the Georgia Straight office. "People I know who are neighbours remember the noise and the parties and the traffic."

      She pointed out that 700,000 people use the park, including scouts, girl guides, photographers, stargazers, joggers, and families.

      "I can appreciate that people who are interested in racing cars want another location around the Lower Mainland, but this is just the wrong location," she said.

      Joanne Braithwaite explains her position on racing in the park.

      The speedway operated from 1963 to 1984. According to Langley Speedway Historical Society president Murray Jones, the racetrack would only require 10 of the park's 566 hectares.

      "With regard to the horses, there is no reason they can't continue to enjoy the park," Jones told the Straight by phone. "There would just be a short section of trail that would have to be closed to them during the time when there would be people either arriving or leaving. Otherwise, there are 14 kilometres of trail throughout the park that's available to them."

      He added that other trails could be created.

      "As far as noise goes, Metro Vancouver park staff used a 35-year-old study to make their case against our proposal," Jones emphasized. 

      He claimed that this study, which was done by a university student, did not take into account the growth of underbrush and trees around the speedway over the past 30 years, nor did it consider mitigation measures that could be taken around public-address systems or noise restrictions on vehicles.

      "We would probably start with a beginner class like Hornet cars or street stocks," Jones revealed. "We would, of course, require them to have enough mufflers or the proper design [on] exhaust systems to make them meet the sound requirements."

      The Langley Speedway hosted NASCAR races in the 1970s.
      Langley Speedway Historical Society

      That doesn't mollify Braithwaite, who claimed that a speedway would be "incredibly loud", attracting up to 10,000 spectators per event.

      She also maintained that based on the old lease, which provided Metro Vancouver with 10 percent of revenue, the regional district wouldn't collect a lot of money.

      "It's a few thousand dollars a year for space that will be locked off and not accessible to the public except if you're a paying customer," Braithwaite said. "Then if you're not a paying customer and you live within several kilometres, you're going to hear it. So it just has a huge footprint for not a lot of money."

      Jones, on the other hand, suggested that a new lease agreement could be written to provide a greater percentage of revenue for the regional government.

      He also emphasized that his group brought forward the proposal because Metro Vancouver sought input on how to generate money to maintain parks.

      "We didn't do it to piss anyone off," he declared.

      Several people are on the speakers' list for the environment and parks committee meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. on Thursday (July 11) in Metro Vancouver's second-floor boardroom.



      John Parlett

      Jul 8, 2013 at 4:53pm

      I see no reason that a speedway and a park can not exist side by side. Speedway races take place on weekend usually during evening hours for a few months for only six hours maximum to and event evening. People really have to get the stick out of there ass and realize the world does not revolve just around their likes and dislikes. We all have to learn to be a little more tolerant towards each others cultural backgrounds and upbringings. Personally I have never been to speedway races or the Drag strip. However I may one day wish to do so. It would be nice not to have to go hundreds of miles away to see such an event on a weekend. Certainly there has to be some sort of middle ground half way point people can all agree on!

      Andrew Blackmoe

      Jul 8, 2013 at 5:18pm

      Actually there are national parks all around the world with race venues, substantially larger than Langley 1/4 mile oval. Its all about co-existing for the community. The track with car park takes up 2% of the park and would only have rights to use 14 days a year.

      There are also countless race track which co-exist with wildlife and horses as well. Laguna Seca being one of the most well known with Cattle, deer, horses and even its own Animal Sanctuary!

      Finally, while the argument put forward about noise is warranted, but mufflers and silencers are use on many cars at tracks. The data used by opponents of the re-opening on the track is 30+years old.

      In 30 years the neighbouring trees have also grown providing a natural sound wall. Lots of progress in noise, cars, exhausts and even loud speakers in those 30 years.

      Finally, much of the noise is deadened by the fact the Speedway is in its bowl.

      Sandra Kolberg

      Jul 8, 2013 at 6:23pm

      I do see a good reason why speedways and parks cannot co-exist.

      I am a car enthusiast and have no trouble going to Mission to see and hear car racing. The industrial area is adjacent to the highway and has plenty of parking and asphalt for the oil, motor fuel and general foot traffic.

      When I look to get away from the noise I prefer to seek a quiet park environment surrounded by trees, birds, and general quiet time to enjoy with my family. I like to be able to carry on a conversation and enjoy the quiet sounds of nature while I walk on the trails.

      The 14 proposed weekends are during the summer months. This quiet nature park would be subject to thousands of cars revving their engines, scaring deer and other wildlife potentially sending them into the road to be struck by the cars arriving or leaving the speedway.

      Lets put car racing in industrial areas, not nature parks in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

      Taryn Caldwell

      Jul 8, 2013 at 6:29pm

      Thank you so much for publishing this...! We have users of the park system coming in from all over the lower mainland who should get to use the park for it's intended purpose: a nature park. No part should be closed off to a paying few who will create noise, congestion, and garbage.

      I would suggest that anyone on the fence about whether this is a good idea should come and visit. Ideally access it via 208th since that will give a first hand view of the roads that would have to support the race goers. At the end is the track, after you pass the PRDA (a non profit that would have it's operations significantly impacted on race days). The track would require significant upgrades to be even usable, including ripping out trees on an already unstable bank.

      The track itself would have to be rebuilt: many of the outer barriers are gone, and there are no infield barriers. The asphalt is a mess. There's zero infrastructure to support any kind of racing.

      Vancouver prides itself on being eco-friendly. What part of rebuilding a race track in a public park fits that description...?


      Jul 8, 2013 at 6:44pm

      I grew up in Coquitlam and remember Westwood Racetrack. Yes, I could hear the cars, but it has zero effect on people's happiness. It was beloved. Those were the days. I support the speedway in Langley 110% and would be willing to donate to have a new racetrack.

      Shelagh Niblock

      Jul 8, 2013 at 6:48pm

      Let's be honest Mr Parlett, 6 hours every second Saturday through the entire summer as well as the late spring and early fall months is the MINIMUM time that the park and associated spaces will be tied up. Even in 1984, the last year the track was operational, the surrounding roads (16th ave both east and west of 208th and 208 north of 224th) were completely tied up with incoming trailers carrying stock cars for most of the day....and that's not even beginning to look at the impact of the traffic generated by the audience. If this proposal is allowed to go ahead the park will be rendered completely unavailable for all other users for the better part of every race day( all summer long..when there is the most demand for the park from the current users). If Langley Speedway wants to recreate the racetrack go for it...just don't destroy our park while doing it. That's not "sharing" that's theft. Find another location and remember that "sharing" by definition is supposed to go both ways.

      Michael Eckford

      Jul 8, 2013 at 7:40pm

      Cigarettes with wheels are never an option.

      Michael Eckford

      Jul 8, 2013 at 7:44pm A public noise area is like the old peeing section in a swimming pool.


      Jul 8, 2013 at 9:46pm

      Well, if you want to look at the park as "It should be used for its intended purpose" I would have to say that by looking at the speedway oval (that is in very good shape just needing some TLC) and the amount of time it has actually been there...wouldn't THAT be the intended purpose???

      Bill H.

      Jul 8, 2013 at 11:23pm

      I find it ironic that there is such opposition to this proposal, and it seems so one-sided. It sounds to me like the organizers of this proposal have enough funds offered up that the proposal could go ahead and not cost Metro Vancouver a single penny. Recently I read that Metro Vancouver spend up to $600,000 to maintain the park. Has anyone asked how much of the money was covered by users of the park? Now we have an organization with a very feasible plan that could help offset the cost of maintaining the park, and we are opposing it, as a taxpayer, I certainly hope that this group is allowed to conduct their feasibility study and based on the information gathered than a responsible decision could be made. Additionally, if my information is correct, this speedway was in existence long before many of us were old enough to remember, but yet we feel that we can be judge whether or not it should go ahead based on the opinions of a select group of people from 30+ years ago. Perhaps if we are so flush with cash that a viable proposal that helps offset the cost of running our parks is refused, than we should just charge the users of the park to raise that money!