December 14, 2021
A city-run racing area could be the solution to curbing dangerous driving in the city, proposes one Calgary city councillor.
Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot filed a notice of motion arguing that on top of increasing the police presence on known areas where drivers street race, the city should also look at creating racing facility within the city to allow drivers to test their modified vehicles.
The notice of motion says many Calgarians who have altered their vehicles do not have a legal outlet to test their cars, leading them to race illegally. A possible solution, the notice says, could be creating a facility through temporary road closures in an industrial area with supervision from police, EMS and fire teams.
Rundlehorn Drive, Temple Drive, 52nd Street E., 68th Street E., 32nd Avenue N., 16th Avenue N., Memorial Drive and McKnight Blvd. are all named as places where illegal straight racing currently occurs.
The motion, if passed, would ask city administration to look at the feasibility of creating temporary road closure areas in industrial areas.
“In speaking to some of the young folks that tend to congregate in certain areas with these, you know, done up vehicles, they have no venue,” said Chabot. “What they’re doing is they’re using residential streets and so it’s a danger to the people in these communities and I was looking at what options are there other than, you know, the private sector creating a race track.”
Southern Alberta hasn’t had a dedicated circuit racetrack since Calgary’s Race City Motorsport Park closed in 2011. However, a 3.5-kilometre track is currently under construction near Carstairs , approximately 65 kilometres north of Calgary. Rocky Mountain Motorsports, the company behind the new track, broke ground on the project last fall. A release on their website shows they have begun placing asphalt and are expecting to have opening laps take place in 2022.
There is a drag racing strip in Medicine Hat, nearly 300 kilometres southeast of Calgary.
Chabot said that his motion could be a catalyst for the private sector to notice there is an appetite for a track in Calgary and for a company to look at constructing a facility closer to the city. In the meantime, he said, he believes that there is no reason legislative reason that the city couldn’t create an area through road closures. He said the idea would be for people to pay to use the area to reduce any costs to the taxpayer.
However, the councillor did note there would be hurdles around insurance and ensuring that liability or costs would remain with the city in the event of accidents occurring.
“Obviously, all of those things are taken in consideration. From a liability perspective, I certainly appreciate that there are some challenges with trying to implement this,” said Chabot.
Chabot said that many people within his ward are currently worried about the amount of speeding that is occurring in their communities, with many people telling him that they are scared to let their kids out of their front door.
He also mentioned he wrote his notice of motion prior to provincial legislative changes that restrict the use of photo radar in residential areas as a type of enforcement. Chabot said he expects his motion will need to expand to explore what options the city has to react to those changes.