WINNIPEG — A group of St. Andrews residents has launched a petition calling on council to hit the brakes on the operation of a drag race track they say is too loud and was set up with no public consultation.
The Motion Performance Raceway (MPR), a drag-racing track that allows Manitobans to bring their cars to race head-to-head at the St. Andrews Airport, had its grand opening in the community north of Winnipeg in August.
However, in the months since, it hasn’t received a warm welcome from its neighbours.
D. John Rooney, a spokesperson for the ‘St. Andrews Group Against the Race track’ said nearly 240 residents have signed a petition calling on the St. Andrews council to “immediately” stop the operations of the race track.
“There was absolutely zero public consultation, nothing at all,” Rooney told CTV News. “We are literally just a few hundred metres away from the track, and the noise is incredible.”
As CTV News previously reported, the existence of the race track came as a surprise to the majority of councillors who learned of its operation during its grand opening from residents complaining about the noise.
During a council meeting in September, it was learned that two councillors who sit on the St. Andrews Airport Committee knew of the race track plans, but were not allowed to discuss it with the rest of council due to a non-disclosure agreement.
The race track has signed a five-year lease with the airport committee. CTV News has reached out to MPR for comment.
In a statement posted on its website following the end of the season, MPR said it will be making improvements but did not specify what these improvements would include.
“To our community, we hear you and we sincerely hope our improvements make 2021 better for everyone involved,” it said.
In a report submitted to council, DJ Sigmundson, the CAO of St. Andrews, said not all residents are opposed to the race track.
He shared comments from residents who praised the MPR track, saying it is a great opportunity for southern Manitoba and will keep racers off the street in a safe and controlled setting.
In the report, Sigmundson said a likely solution is for council to “make the best of this situation” for the rest of the raceway’s lease.
“Following the expiration of the lease the airport board could then make an application as if governed by the RM zoning by-law,” he said in the report.
Sigmundson said some opportunities could include reducing or eliminating loud “special event” cars, reducing the number of events or putting a time limit on them, enforcing a 99-decibel sound limit, and looking into other “noise abatement strategies.”
Among the recommendations in the report is the call for council to task the Airport Board to write a letter of understanding that will “significantly reduce the impact of this facility on the residential neighbourhood and that some public engagement occur prior to the agreement being finalized.”
He said this process could be completed over the winter months.
St. Andrews councillors accepted the petition from the St. Andrews group in mid-November. An expert in municipal affairs is now looking into whether or not the RM of St. Andrews has jurisdiction over the drag racing track operating on the community’s airport.
Council is expected to learn more later this week.
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