Calgary, Alberta — Can you hear that? Is that a crowd of teenagers chanting, “Let them race”? But this isn’t an 80’s ski movie and there is no one in a top hat and monocle in sight (R.I.P. Mr. Peanut). It’s simpler and somehow more compelling than that. Calgarians just want somewhere to show off their modded cars.
Calgary’s councillor for Ward 10, Andre Chabot, is trying to make that happen.
Chabot is trying to address the fact that while car modifications, both cosmetic and performance-based, are generally legal and safe, there is no legal framework to allow drivers to actually make use of their vehicles to their fullest potential.
In opening a legal option for racers and other auto enthusiasts, Chabot sees the potential to reduce danger and anxiety in communities where illegal street racing is already prevalent.
“Right now a lot of those people that live in those communities are afraid to let their kids out of their front door for fear of what could happen to them because of all the speeding that’s occurring in those communities,” said Chabot.
“Speaking to some of the young folks who tend to congregate in certain areas with these done-up vehicles, they have no venue.”
Calgary’s sole racetrack, Race City Motorsport Park, closed in 2011 and the city has yet to see a replacement.
Chabot envisions a model where drivers can pay for access to closed roads and industrial parks.
Chabot’s notice of motion was put on ice by Calgary’s executive committee on Tuesday, dismissed by a 6-2 vote with sole support coming from Ward 7’s Terry Wong.
“The intent of what my notice of motion was designed to achieve, initially, is to provide an increased level of enforcement, safety and security for the residents, while also providing some form of outlet for those folks who would like an opportunity to make use of some of their enhancements on their vehicles,” said Chabot.
“I can tell you that Rundlehorn Drive and Temple Drive (N.E.) in particular, you ask anyone who lives along those roads and they’ll tell you car after car after 9 p.m. make it their mission to see how fast they can get racing.”
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that she remains unconvinced that this proposal would in any way curb the majority of illegal street racing.
“Residents feel unsafe because their neighbourhood streets are being used for racing and I don’t disagree with that,” Gondek said.
“I guess the disconnect for me is the reach to say, if we provide a sanctioned speedway, that it will make it better. I’m missing the connection between the two things, so I’ll leave it there. I can’t support this.”
As it stands, the motion will not reach city council, however, Chabot is free to revise his motion and re-introduce it later.
A $35 million, 3.5 kilometre, 16 turn racetrack is currently under construction north of Calgary in Carstairs, Alta.