WINNIPEG — Some councillors in the RM of St. Andrews are raising concerns over a new drag racing track at the airport they didn’t know existed until residents complained about the noise.
The Motion Performance Raceway (MPR) opened at the St. Andrews Airport at the beginning of August. The drag-racing track allows Manitobans to bring their cars to race head-to-head.
The existence of the race track – which had its grand opening during the August long weekend – came as a surprise to most councillors in the area.
“I, and I believe other councillors, we were completely unaware this racetrack was even put into place,” Joy Sul, mayor of St. Andrews, told members of council during their last meeting on August 11.
“This is what I found on the disturbing side – is that council had no idea.”
Since the track opened, the RM of St. Andrews has received calls and emails from residents both in support of the MPR track and against it, according to a statement posted by the RM online.
COUNCILLORS ‘PERPLEXED BY THE SECRECY’ OF THE RACE TRACK
Coun. Matthew Prychun told council he only found out about the racetrack after calls from residents started pouring in during the track’s opening weekend.
“This thing already started and nobody really knew about it and now the hornets are flying,” he said, adding the matter should have come to council.
Coun. Kristin Hoebee, the head of tourism for the municipality, told council she wonders why she wasn’t included in conversations about the racetrack before it opened.
“I’m perplexed by the secrecy behind that,” she said, adding while she does not doubt the racetrack could have great potential for the RM, the council along with St. Andrews residents should have known about it.
“Whether I agree or disagree with the racetrack is irrelevant, I don’t even want to talk about that because it is moot to me at this point,” she said. “I believe there should have been public consultation or at the very least, council should have been advised that this was going to be happening.”
NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT KEPT COUNCILLORS IN THE DARK
DJ Sigmundson, the CAO for the rural municipality, told CTV News on Wednesday that the St. Andrews Airport committee, an external committee that includes two councillors, reached an agreement with MPR and leased the land. The money from the lease is paid to the airport.
Sigmundson said the municipality owns the land and the airport but has put the airport committee in charge of economic development on the site. Due to a non-disclosure agreement, the councillors on the committee were not allowed to discuss it with the rest of council, he said.
“The airport really has been by far our largest success as far as economic development and job creation go in the municipality in the last couple decades,” he said, adding, in this case, there was a lack of clarity regarding the airport’s jurisdiction.
Sigmundson said St. Andrews administration is currently preparing a report for council with information about the racetrack. He said he expects it to be completed this month.
“We really are seeking a solution that is going to meet the needs of the best we can under the circumstances,” he said.
RACES TO CONTINUE WHILE COUNCIL WAITS
While council waits for more information, operations at the racetrack will continue.
MPR declined an interview with CTV News, but in a statement posted on the RM of St. Andrews website, organizers said a special event is planned for the September long weekend.
“This event will have some of the louder cars that were out for the August long weekend, they run for four to five seconds at a time and about three to four times a day,” the statement said, adding the event will run from Saturday to Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The racetrack organizers said it has added more hay bales to help with sound control.
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