The Latest Progress Report on The Canadian Motor Speedway Project.
I continue to get asked constantly about what’s happening with The Canadian Motor Speedway ( CMS ) project in Fort Erie Ontario, that’s going to deliver Canada’s first major league oval and road course auto racing complex.
Most of the questions about progress are from fans, frustrated and anxious since they have not seen heavy machinery moving on the 823 acre site just west of the Queen Elizabeth Highway at Bowen Road, since the initial phase of the project started in the Fall of 2013.
The simple response to the question of CMS progress? Not all progress involves the moving of dirt.
There has been vigorous effort and progress on the CMS project administratively. There is a mountain of paper work to shuffle through when you’re trying to build a $400 million dollar auto racing facility of this magnitude, a first in Canada.
The number-one task of CMS investors and management is to secure financial support from the Ministry of Transportation of the Province of Ontario for off-site infrastructure, namely, the re-build of the aging Bowen Road/QEW highway interchange, that will serve as the main access and egress point for the complex.
The widening and the reconstruction of the interchange has to be finalized for the development to continue to advance. And environmental assessment of the land for the interchange needs to happen as well.
The MTO and CMS also need to come to an agreement if the interchange will be a two or four lane design. Again, building this interchange or overpass requires an incredible amount of engineering input and data, and that can be very time consuming.
The Province committed in 2010 to support infrastructure near the site, and CMS is still waiting for that support to arrive. CMS hopes to have a decision from the MTO by the end of the year.
At the same time, The Town of Fort Erie needs to secure a commitment from the Province for other necessary infrastructure improvements. The Town is the main beneficiary of Provincial support, and they need that commitment for an investment to secure an investment the size of CMS.
Once this all comes together, CMS can start its site plan approval process with the municipality to obtain the permits necessary to continue on-site work.
While discussions with the MTO roll on, other arms of government are repeating their sustained support for the complex and what it will bring the Town, The Region and The Province in revenue, commerce and jobs.
Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates recently told Bullet News Niagara reporter Kris Dube his position has always been very clear. He fully supports the project and its major economic benefits in his riding.
Ontario Minister of Economic Development Brad Duguid told Bullet News he is aware of an application by the local municipality for support on the project under the Small Communities Fund. Duguid is excited about the economic and tourism potential CMS could bring to Fort Erie and Niagara, and his Ministry will continue to work with CMS and the local municipality to ensure any additional improvements required are provided so the community and the province are able to benefit from the jobs and increased tourism this exciting project has the potential to deliver.
So while this explains what’s been taking up most of the time with the development to this point, let’s offset it with some positive “racing” news on the project.
CMS’ architectural firm, The IBI Group Inc., is reviewing project data and studies to formulate a landscaping plan to determine the elevation of the oval, the road course and grandstands for the initial capacity of 65 thousand fans.
And here’s the really exciting stuff: CMS oval designer Jeff Gordon, when not focused on NASCAR Chase drama, has been working on the speedway on a simulator. He talked about this in detail during his recent promo tour in Toronto that we reported on in our last installment of Tomas Tales.
Jeff already has the elevation figured out, the degree of banking into turns one and two and the length of the straightaways for the ¾ mile oval. He’s also working with engineering firms on things like drainage and surfacing.
Eventually, Goodyear Tire and Rubber will be brought into the discussion to work with local Niagara engineers on a special asphalt aggregate that could be used on the oval track surface.
There’s some honest to goodness racing stuff to grab onto.
And to move ahead with concrete, brick and mortar integration into the Fort Erie business community, CMS has opened an office in the Town on Garrison Road, a short drive away from the site.
This will be a place where fans and interested parties can go to get the straight goods on what’s happening with The Canadian Motor Speedway project, without having to deal with rumours and inaccurate information.
As CMS Executive Director Azhar Mohammad put it, “The new CMS office will be a physical presence in the Fort Erie business district that says we’re here… we’re staying here and we’re moving ahead!”
And that’s very encouraging news for race fans across Canada!