Council for the Rural Municipality of Hanover will be deciding in the coming months whether or not to extend the lease for the motocross track in Grunthal. And, local Councillor Curtis Dawydiuk says there seems to be support from within the community for that track to continue operating.
Dawydiuk explains that it used to be the recreation committee in Grunthal that made the decision on lease agreements. However, due to the realignment of responsibilities and insurance reasons, that task now lies in the hands of Hanover Council.
Dawydiuk says in years past, it was typically either a two or three-year lease. However, this last spring, Hanover Council opted for a one-year lease. Dawydiuk says there were a couple of reasons for this, including the fact that a completely new board of directors was running the GMX side of things, plus there were some concerns brought forward from neighbours. Dawydiuk says the one-year lease bought them time to investigate the viability of the track's location, before approving any long-term agreements.
"Just wanted to do our due diligence before making any decisions," he says.
According to Dawydiuk, the lease was for the calendar year, allowing the GMX group to use the track for its race season, which wrapped in September, and then for some additional practices that ran into October.
As mentioned, Dawydiuk says earlier this year, some concerns were brought to Council by residents.
"Similar concerns to what we've had for a couple of years," he notes. "There's a couple of residents in the area that have voiced concerns about activity at the track and just dirt bikes in general and safety concerns and noise. So, a lot of it is noise pollution related."
Dawydiuk acknowledges that the track was built in a valley and so the sound vibrates through that low spot. He notes there are definitely a couple of residences that are hit more directly than others, by the noise pollution.
But, Dawydiuk says there is also a lot of support for the track in the community. In fact, the municipality was recently handed a petition by neighbours, supporting the operation of the track. Dawydiuk says there are neighbours who believe the track is another form of recreation, noting the controlled environment is actually a safer place for those who enjoy the sport.
"Some of the residents I guess in the area weren't quite as concerned about the noise of the track and didn't want to see the track closed," says Dawydiuk. "They were just expressing their support for the continued operations, knowing that we were going into another lease renewal conversation."
Dawydiuk says this would certainly be a different conversation if rather than wanting to renew their lease, the motocross group was hoping to build a track in that location for the very first time. But he says they are not starting from scratch, and they are not investing millions of dollars into building a new track, located within an area that is experiencing urban growth.
"The track was there, there weren't subdivisions next to it at that point when it was built a number of years ago," he adds.
Council is now left with the decision of whether or not to renew the lease. Dawydiuk says he believes that if approved, this would be a multi-year agreement, noting it is difficult for the group to do any strategic planning or infrastructure improvements with only a one-year lease.
"It's not just a rubber stamp, we want to make sure we're doing our due diligence before signing agreements with user groups," he notes. "For them to plan any major track changes or facility upgrades, investing in the facilities that they are truly leasing, we want to have the conversation to give them the opportunity to make good decisions."
Dawydiuk says this is a nationally recognized track that puts both Grunthal and Hanover on the map. He adds a lot of local people also see value in the track as it offers another form of recreation to the area.
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