MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - County council has been given an extensive update on the Rocky Mountain Motorsports facility currently under construction east of Carstairs.
The review came during the recent, regularly scheduled council meeting, with company officials outlining some of the work already completed as well as plans going forward.
Dominic Young is the president of Rocky Mountain Motorsports and Shadi El Hage is track operations manager at the new facility.
The company is constructing a recreation and training track at the intersection of Highway 2 and Highway 581 on a 385.64-acre parcel.
The development permit for project was issued in August 2020, with construction starting on Sept. 1, 2020.
“Our objective was to follow the natural land contours, enhancing the elevation features to create a more exciting track,” Young said. “And also sinking the track into the ground to assist with sound mitigation.”
The track is 3.5 kilometres in length and has 16 turns, as well as 36 metres of elevation change in a single lap.
The core construction budget is $21 million out of a total of $34 million being invested, he said.
The sound mitigation berm at the site is nearly completed, he said.
“We’ve moved almost two million tons of dirt in the construction, primarily excavating large storm ponds and excavating some of the track area,” he said. “And all of that dirt has gone into the berms that surround the track.”
After the construction of the berm and the installation of the underground drainage system of about 1,600 metres of piping, the next step was to bring in about 11,000 cubic metres of gravel that forms the foundation of the track, he said.
“Some of that gravel was sourced from local suppliers,” he said.
The next step was to implement the curbing, he said.
“The curbing is designed to protect the track,” he said. “They are really a protective feature for the asphalt surface itself. This track is engineered to be very, very safe. If a driver makes a mistake there is a substantial run-off area to correct the vehicle and avoid any damage to vehicles.”
The track also includes tire and concrete barriers, he said.
Nearly $2 million has beenm spent on landscaping at the site, including planting of trees around the berm and storm ponds, he said.
Chainlink fence has been installed around the entire site for safety and to prevent intrusion, he said.
El Hage said sound testing at the facility will begin this spring, he said.
“A sound testing plan has been drafted and will be provided to the director of planning for the county’s information,” said El Hage. “Once we have the sound testing schedule, we will share it with the county to provide transparency should there be any inquires.
“And we will also communicate the schedule to neighbours directly. We want to make sure everyone is aware of what we are doing.”
A portable classroom office will be installed at the site, he said,
“This will be used for registration and a classroom for our driver and rider schools,” he said. “This will be our central meeting area and will be located just inside the main gate.”
A washroom facility will also be installed, which will be serviced by local businesses, he said, noting water will be brought to the site; no wells are being drilled.
A large covered structure will also be installed to provide protection from the elements (such as hail) when needed, he said.
Security cameras will also be installed to ensure the track is not being used without authorization, he said.
Driving schools will be starting this spring, he said.
Planning is underway on stage 1 of the vehicle storage garages at the site, said Young.
“These are intended for vehicle storage for members; they are not for commercial use,” Young said. “They avoid the need for members to have to trailer vehicles each time. We expect this will be a further 10 to 12-million dollar investment.”
The hope would be to start construction of the vehicle storage units this summer, he said.
A commercial garage and fuel depot is also being planned, he said
“We hope to get started on those in 2022. We know each of these initiatives require a separate development permit and building permit,” he said.
The plan is to have 15 full-time employees, some of them seasonal and some permanent, said El Hage.
“We will get started on that at the end of this month or beginning of March,” El Hage said. “And our intention is to be ready to go in April.”
Local businesses, including restaurants, fuel delivery, electrical, hardware, snow removal, garbage and others have been engaged or will be engaged, he said.
A neighbourhood committee is being formed to facilitate communication, he said.
“We certainly do intend to communicate with the neighbours,” he said. “We have started to communicating with the neighbours, a handful of them. We intend on being a positive influence in Mountain View County.”
A neighbour tour of the facility will be held before operations begin, “so they can better understand the details and we can better answer their questions and they can see what it looks like,” he said.
The company has made contributions to a number of local events, including the Carstairs rodeo, Carstairs graduation, and the horticulture club, he said, noting charity events will take place at the facility in the future.
Asked by Jennifer Lutz asked if the Calgary-based company will be relocating its headquarters to Mountain View County, El Hage said no.
Asked about racing at the facility, El Hage said, “Racing is certainly not a priority for Rocky Mountain Motorsports. We have a number of challenges that would affect that decision, one being the number of people we can have on site and just the layout of the track itself. It is not a short-term plan of ours.”
“The model is based around membership and user groups. This is a track for lapping, not spectating, honestly,” he added.
There are plans to install some bleachers at the site, but “it won’t be a grandstand; it will be fairly small,” he said.
“We are very excited to hear about your progress,” said Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers. “We think it is a good opportunity for economic development within our county.”
Councillors accepted the delegation update as information.