Friday, December 20, 2013

Badlands Motorsport Resort - Area Structure Plan

Motorsports enthusiasts of Calgary and Alberta have never really had great facilities to express their passion.  RaceCity Speedway outlasted the growth the the City's needs, and alternative venues have been sought ever since.
This development proposal is for a country club style motorsports park integrated with residential, commercial, and recreational land use objectives.  Located in Kneehill County, 1.5 hours north and east of Calgary, approximately one section of land (640ac) has been studied and conceptually massaged into an Area Structure Plan (ASP) that has been filed with the Municipal authorities.  The goal is to provide a world class European style road course with significant elevation dynamics, that has sufficient associated infrastructure and business opportunity to become a destination resort.  Above and below are figures extracted from the ASP showing (1) access and regional context (2) plan layout and (3) elevation dynamics of the road course. 


Motorsports parks are becoming increasingly popular across the globe.  Many are private and have a member list of the who's who in billionaire circles.  Some have adopted a broader market strategy by offering driving schools and holding other driving related events for corporations and team building initiatives.  Calabogie (ON).  Mosport (ON).  Monitcello (MN & NY).  Miller Motorsports Park (UT).  Motorsports Ranch (TX).  Ascari (Spain).  While the proliferation suggests that these facilities are successful business ventures, it is my view that their economics are very sensitive and provide only marginal returns to investors.  In some cases, as with other hobbies and entertainment pursuits, there are well heeled investors and this is their playground.  As any good motorsports enthusiast will say (ok, maybe that's just me, LOL!), its about the experience, that is the only thing that matters.  So for those with the opportunity, these facilities are simply fabulous.

Will the Badlands facility progress and become a reality?  There is a lot of money and motorsports enthusiasm in Calgary.  There is notable opposition from local communities and ENGOs regarding species and habitats at risk.  There even is a proposal to re-purchase the property and place it under a perpetual protective easement.  There are supporters and naysayers.  I think its too early to tell, and lots of ground still to cover.

Lamborghini Veneno
There has been a lot of thought put into this project.  Proposed environmental reserve of adjacent lands, reshaping and re-aligning portions of the road course, and careful attention to sensitive ecosystems, wildlife movement corridors, seasonal variations could contribute to a more eco-friendly reality.  Whether the residual impacts are significant or not becomes the topic of debate.  The Badlands Recreational Development Corporation (BRDC) has spent real money, risk money.  They have a tangible plan and are walking through the process.  Regardless of where or what type of land development is contemplated today, a debate is created.  And to me, it is generally a debate of value ~ the land's natural value vs. the economic and entertainment value.

Mclaren P1
They are two thirds of the way through the process.  If they get final approval from council for the land use designation change, then comes final permitting, design, and financing.  There are many steps ~ each step as important as the last, or the next.

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