Council questions festival promoter requests rezoning application 

By Angelica Ingram

A special meeting of Dysart councilheld on Nov. 10 brought forth lots of questions comments and a fewfireworks from councillors directed at John Teljeur and WolfgangSiebert regarding a proposal to transform a golf course into a sitefor music festivals.

More than two dozen attendees filledcouncil chambers to hear more about Siebert's plans to transformLakeside Golf Course located on Highway 118 in West Guilford into apermanent site for festivals.

The pair originally came to themunicipality at the Oct. 26 regular meeting of council where Teljeurtold councillors Siebert had put in a conditional offer on the golfcourse.

At the start of the meeting CouncillorSusan Norcross whose ward includes West Guilford declared apecuniary interest in the matter and left the meeting. Norcross toldthe Echo following the meeting that her pecuniary conflict wasa real estate concern.

Municipal director of planning PatMartin told councillors the proposal requires a zoning amendment inorder to accommodate campsites.

“A formal proposal has not beensubmitted to the planning department” wrote Martin in her reportto council.

According to Martin the proposal willalso require approvals from the Ministry of Transportation since thesite is located on a highway and possibly traffic studies whichwould be conducted by MTO.

“One thing we want to make clear isthis is not a campground” said Teljeur.

Teljeur said the site would only beused as a temporary campground. He reiterated the location'suniqueness and value to the promoter.

“We're not interested in makingmassive changes” said Teljeur.

Reeve Murray Fearrey asked a number ofquestions including what was going to happen to the sewage whichSiebert said would be trucked out.

“Festivals are self-contained”said Siebert.

His responses were similar when askedabout garbage and the strain it could cause on area landfills.

Teljeur said a lot of it would berecycled while Siebert suggested a lot of the campers would takeaway their own garbage.

Siebert said traffic would be handledby OPP officers hired by the festival organizers.

“In my experience the MTO has saidjust hire the OPP” he said.

Concert tickets would be pre-soldonline which would help mitigate traffic concerns said Siebert.

The promoter said Haliburton would be agood site because the future is the Internet and these festivalswould be broadcast over the Internet.

Siebert also said those who attendthese types of festival spend thousands of dollars per festival.

Shows would typically be over by 11:30p.m. or midnight and would take place on Friday and Saturday nights.

Festival dates are still up in the airand it is unknown if they will take place during long-weekends.

Siebert said at this point he isfocused on establishing a classic rock festival and a countryfestival and that a third festival featuring a mainstream artistwould be dependent on details such as artists' touring schedules.

Deputy-reeve Andrea Roberts said shewould like to see a maximum number of campsites included in the siteplan and that the MTO will want to know traffic numbers.

Roberts suggested the proposal mightrequire turning lanes on Highway 118.

“My answer to that is we'retemporary” said Siebert. “It's only going to be a concern onFriday and Sunday night.”

Roberts said the issue is there isn'tanother way around for Kennisis Lake cottagers.

“They could go on the Barry Line”said Fearrey. “There is another way around.”

Part of the proposal includes using anunopened road allowance from the Irish Line as an entrance/exit foremergency vehicles.

Roberts pointed to a wetland featurethat runs through there and suggested approval from the Ministry ofEnvironment would be needed to build a road.

“How can you guarantee that will onlybe used for emergency vehicles?” she asked adding the purpose ofthe road should be made clear during the rezoning process.

Siebert then said that anyone livingnear the property would get a VIP pass to the festival or a jobwhich was met with laughs from attendees.

“Excuse me for a second but I thinkthat’s quite patronizing” said Councillor Derek Knowles.

The councillor told festival organizersit sounded like they were trying to buy people off.

“We’ve had two weeks to digestalmost nothing because the last time you were here you broughtnothing to the table in terms of real information” said Knowles.“I don’t know how anybody at this table could raise their handand say hey I have enough information let’s go ahead with this.”

“We're still working on the process”said Teljeur.

“The process should have started with… a proper planning document” said Knowles.

The councillor said he wasn't for oragainst the proposal but that he didn't have enough information.

“If something sounds too good to betrue it probably is” said Knowles.

Siebert said he too was looking formore information specifically whether or not council wanted hisproposal.

“I'm in the same boat I need to beconvinced council wants festivals” he said. “John said this townneeds tourism it needs entertainment it needs business.”

Roberts said councillors were justlooking for safeguards to avoid getting phone calls from people downthe road.

“It’s not that I’m against theidea I’m just going at this in baby steps” she said.

Teljeur said what he and Siebert werelooking for at this time was an indication if councillors were goingto take steps forward.

Fearrey said he appreciated thecomments from council but that nothing is going to please everybody.

“If we do nothing … and go throughthe same thing as Armatec and turn it down because of the NIMBYsyndrome … that’s not fair to this proposal either” said thereeve.

In referencing Armatec Fearrey wasreferring to a proposal that was made for a property near Harcourtwhere a business named Armatec Survivability wanted to engage inmilitary testing. The proposal was denied a rezoning requestfollowing a public process.

“We have meeting after meeting abouttrying to create economic development for us not to get all thedetails and make sure we’re making the right decision for thiscommunity is not serving the taxpayers of Dysart. Otherwise you mightas well put a fence up there and say we’re out of business.”

Fearrey said what council needed was anapplication for rezoning with approvals in place from MTO.

Martinsaid a rezoning amendment with comments from the MTO is what isrequired for the project to move forward and is no different thanwhat was required of Abbey Gardens a tourism initiative also onHighway 118.

If a rezoning application is broughtforward the proposal will go through a process that is open tocomments from the public similarly to what was required of Armatec.