CLEARVIEW TWP. – Roxodus is ready to rock after finally receiving approval from Clearview Township council today.
A temporary-use zoning bylaw amendment and a special-events permit were both granted by township council in a special meeting Wednesday afternoon – less than 30 days prior to the festival – despite a consultant's report indicating that concert organizers, MF Live, had not yet fulfilled the complete application requirements.
“This is a bit of a 'damned if you do and damned if you don’t' (situation),” Coun. Connie Leishman said during her emotional comments on the subject.
“All I want to do... is try to protect us as much as we can – the township and my neighbours. I know they won’t trust me after this, and that hurts. I’m the kind of councillor that likes to help my neighbours and I’m not sure I can in this case,” said Leishman.
The Roxodus Music Festival will take place July 11-14 at the Edenvale Aerodrome, located west of Barrie on Highway 26, and will include big-name acts such as Aerosmith, Kid Rock, Alice Cooper, Nickleback, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
When approving the temporary-use bylaw, council opted to support the “middle-of-the-road option,” according to CAO Stephen Sage, to approve the bylaw for 18 months, for Roxodus this year and for another festival in 2020 on the grounds.
A special events permit would still need to be obtained before a 2020 festival would be approved.
At the heart of the issue is a report by Innovative Planning Solutions, originally prepared by Darren Vella, which indicated that a functional servicing and stormwater management report and a stage 2 archaeological assessment have not yet been received by the township, which is a requirement for the temporary zoning-bylaw amendment.
Also, work has already been undertaken on the site by the event organizers, including some clear cutting of trees.
“Approving the application would set a dangerous precedent for future planning applications being reviewed by the township,” wrote Vella in his report.
“The problem is the elephant in the room. The elephant... is it’s airport lands, and the owner of the airport has signed off. They’ve done a lot of work to the lands. Hopefully it can be mitigated,” said Leishman.
The updated special-events permit approved by council on Wednesday put all the responsibility for the festival with the promoters, including payment for all costs associated with the festival such as additional Ontario Provincial Police services, Simcoe County Paramedic Services and liability in the event of any lawsuits are brought due to the festival.
Promoters are also responsible to return the land to its pre-event state within 10 business days of the festival ending.
While approval is still outstanding from the Ministry of Transportation, Sage said during the meeting that it was likely expected shortly based on the tone of ongoing correspondence.
Coun. Doug McKechnie opted to vote against both the special-events permit and the temporary-use bylaw amendment, as he felt the argument from Roxodus promoters that the festival promotes Clearview aviation to be thin.
“I think we stand to lose a lot as a community,” he said. “The promoter is saying this is an aviation-related event. I have 40 years of aviation background. Folks, this is not an aviation-related event. You say you’re going to show a couple of videos. A couple of videos is not an aviation-related event. This is not the Clearview that I foresee for the future.”
In an interview after the meeting, lawyer for MF Live David Donnelly said the show was always going on, with or without the approval of Clearview council.
“The concert was going to be legal on the airport grounds, no matter what. By law, it allows airport-regulated events,” said Donnelly. “This shows there’s co-operation between the township, the County of Simcoe and the conservation authority, so we’re very pleased with today’s outcome.”
Mike Dunphy, organizer with MF Live, says that, as of Wednesday, 20,000 weekend passes for the festival have already sold, with much more expected to sell now that council has given their approval.
“We know from all the people we’ve spoken to that... people make their plans based on the weather so we’ll be selling tickets right up until the day of,” said Dunphy.
“With reports running in the paper saying we’re waiting for approvals, people will sit on the fence. In my opinion (this approval) will definitely help us out.”