Metro Vancouver has hit the brakes on a bid to reintroduce auto racing at the Langley Speedway in Campbell Valley Regional Park.
The regional district’s environment and parks committee today (July 11) voted against proceeding with a feasibility study on restoring the old track.
“The proposal of this project to me does not fit in with the goals or the management plan or the policies of this committee or of the [Metro Vancouver] board,” said committee chair Heather Deal, also a Vancouver city councillor.
The unsolicited proposal, put forward by the Langley Speedway Historical Society, generated a mix of support and opposition from the public.
Opponents complained the noise and crowds from race events would spoil the park’s atmosphere and disrupt its users, particularly those who ride horses along the equestrian trails.
However, Langley Speedway Historical Society president Murray Jones argued restoring the track—which was in operation until 1984—could generate revenue for the regional district.
“Just because they've said no to the idea of bringing back stock car racing at that particular location doesn't mean that it's no longer significant or an important part of the community,” Jones told reporters following the vote.
“It makes it more difficult for us to do some of the things that we would like to do in regards to restoring the site because it would have been a good way of generating revenue for us and for some of the other park partners. But other than that, we'll just continue on [with] business as usual,” he said.
Surrey city councillor Barbara Steele was among several committee members who spoke against conducting further study into allowing racing in the park.
During the committee meeting, Steele said she is not opposed to the sport of auto racing but does not think an active speedway belongs in the regional park.
“I do believe that there are other places where this would be able to fit in,” Steele said.
Also during the meeting, the environment and parks committee heard from five speakers, all of whom spoke against the proposal to restore the track.
Among the speakers was Michelle Meacher, executive director of Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities, a group based near the park that uses horseback riding as therapy for people with disabilities.
Meacher said the racing activity would disrupt her nonprofit group’s operations by upsetting the horses.
“They will be affected by the noise from the raceway, causing stress and anxiety in an animal whose calm, quiet disposition is vital for the safety of our clients,” she told the committee.
After the committee vote, Meacher expressed relief, telling reporters: “I'm surprised that it has taken this many months of fighting and we had to fight as hard as we did but it's great to hear that the committee did vote in our favour.”