How the South Okanagan's exclusive racetrack is fitting in with neighbours

Oliver Town Council will be hearing about economic benefits being generated in the area from the opening of the Area 27 Formula One racetrack at an upcoming council meeting, after receiving an application from members wanting to build a hanger at the Oliver airport at the Monday, April 10, 2017 meeting. Council also heard concerns about noise coming from the track at Monday's meeting.
Image Credit: Jeanette Montgomery / Area 27 Facebook photo

OLIVER - South Okanagan and Oliver businesses are starting to see the impacts of having a high profile race track near the community, but not all of them are good.

Area 27 is a racetrack recently opened on Osoyoos Indian Band land on a bench above the east side of Oliver that caters to extremely wealthy international clients. Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes said two members at the track applied to the town to build a hangar at the airport to house their planes when they come to Oliver.

That was an economic spinoff to the track that likely not too many had envisioned when the project began in November, 2015.

Area 27 President Bill Drossos says he will be addressing council in the coming weeks to describe other economic activity the track has generated so far.

He says $600,000 worth of accommodations have been booked so far this year for various track related events in the South Okanagan, and lunches from track visitors account for a $3-4,000 weekly expenditure at local restaurants, something he says will ramp up as track visitors move outside of town to frequent area wineries, now that spring is here.

“There has probably been $4 million in real estate transactions in Oliver this year from members buying properties,” he says.

Drossos says auto manufacturers are also scheduling media launches for vehicles this year at the track, which will result in journalists from vehicle publications world-wide descending on the South Okanagan.

Once here, they’ll need places to stay while they test cars, use the region’s back roads, buy wine and write about the area to publications with substantial subscriberships all over the world.

The economic news was tempered somewhat at the Monday's Oliver council meeting by several noise complaints received by the town over cars racing at the track.

Hovanes said the town has had up to a half dozen complaints as well as a single phone call made to the town office.

He said council agreed Monday to pass the concerns on to Area 27 management and ask what plans are in the works to mitigate sound.

“My understanding with the managers is they want to be good neighbours, and it is a business,” Hovanes said, expressing confidence the problem would be rectified.

Drossos says he’s heard of three complaints made to the town over noise from the track.

Plans were in the works two months ago to do noise testing, which took place on the weekend, Drossos says.

“We ran five different classes of vehicles in five different sessions, grouped by vehicle type while Okanagan Audio Lab set up on site gathering data,” he says, adding the lab then went off site to gather comparative data.

“We want to know what the sound levels are, for our own understanding,” he says.

Drossos says some preliminary noise testing was done prior to the track opening, and it appears the data collected last weekend correlates with the track’s original findings.

“I feel confident we’ll have no problem meeting or exceeding the 60 decibel mark,” he says, adding he expects to have the lab back to do more off-site testing in the coming days.

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