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Drag-racing noise still an issue in Bonfield

“We understand they’re wanting to operate … but there are concerns,” said Bonfield Mayor Randy McLaren
drag racing kirkland lake
Motorcycle racers at the Kirkland Lake drag strip in August 2020. Gillian Camsell Facebook Photo

Noise control at the drag strip on Development Road is one of the issues on the agenda today for Bonfield’s Emergency Response Group, said Mayor Randy McLaren.

The Bonfield Event Park is staging its first major drag-racing event this weekend. It begins with test and tune Friday and bracket racing plus a ‘Gator Gamblers Race’ Saturday. It concludes Sunday with the Vinnie Cup – the traditional Sudbury vs North Bay grudge match hosted by the Northern Drag Racing Outlaws.

The emergency response group was struck as part of the community’s state of emergency declared for the COVID-19 pandemic. Any gathering of more than 50 people is vetted and they make sure organizers know they have to follow provincial protocols.

The poster promoting the Bonfield Event Park notes that there is a limit of 100 spectators allowed.

Questions remain, however, about noise complaints that started with the initial owners a decade ago and re-emerged this summer.

“We’ve been in discussion with them,” he said about the proprietors of the Barrie Automotive Flea Market who bought the property and held its grand opening last summer. As well as staging a market in the expansive property they announced plans to hold a few drag races and other types of entertainment events.

It appears there is enthusiastic support for drag racing to resume and efforts to give back to the community. Bill Harling of Mr. Transmission in Sudbury and North Bay will donate $500 to the food bank of the city team that wins the Vinnie Cup. And the Bonfield Event Park will be donating $500 to the Callander Legion Br. 445. Members of the military won’t be charged the daily gate fees and almost a dozen local businesses are listed as sponsors.

McLaren, who welcomed the economic activity for the small community last year, said the owners were supposed to provide a list of their planned events before a spring deadline. While it’s understood COVID-19 has disrupted many plans this year, he said that doesn’t dismiss the municipality’s responsibility to residents.

“It was news to us,” he said about the event that didn’t come to their attention until about two weeks ago.

“There are some concerns about noise mitigation and what they’ve done to address that and we’re still in those discussions,” he said Monday. “We understand they’re wanting to operate … but there are concerns.”

Bonfield Event Park owner, Lisa Groves, told BayToday this morning they are following all the recommendations listed by the engineer who conducted the last noise impact study.

“And we’re following them to the letter,” Groves said, adding they had their own decibel reader out to ensure the noise was below the limits.

She said someone called the OPP, Ministry of Labour and other groups to complain in June while racers were conducting test and tune sessions.

“This is not my first rodeo and we’re following all the rules,” Groves said, describing how – during non-COVID-19 pandemic impacted summers – she organizes 12 of the largest events in Ontario.

Groves admits she didn’t meet the April deadline for scheduling events but added nobody knew what was going on this summer when most of the world was shut down.

It wasn’t until July did they have any hope of pulling something together and it was difficult scheduling an event around all the other communities trying to do something to salvage their seasons.

Groves said she hopes to do all kinds of events other than drag racing that will bring a lot of business activity to the community.

And she said they’ve been warmly received by the majority of Bonfield residents.

“In my opinion, the majority of local people are wonderful folk and very supportive,” Groves said. “These are strange times and we are in uncharted waters, I’ll just have to hang on and see where this goes.”

Dave Dale

About the Author: Dave Dale

Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who covers West Nipissing and the communities along the Highway 17 corridor. He is based out of BayToday
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