Pemberton Festival financially unfeasible: Live Nation 

Music festival on hiatus until policing, liquor issues worked out


The Pemberton Festival is on hold until it becomes more financially feasible for promoter Live Nation, a festival organizer told Pique Monday morning.

Shane Bourbonnais, lead organizer of the 2008 Pemberton Festival and now the company's London-based President of Talent and International Music, said in an e-mail that Live Nation is putting the festival on hiatus until it works out issues with local officials that will "make the festival financially feasible for us."

This is the second year in a row that the Pemberton Festival has been cancelled. Live Nation decided to forgo a 2009 event because they couldn't work out some traffic issues and approval from the Agricultural Land Commission for use of the site came later than expected. But policing costs and liquor licensing are proving to be roadblocks for a future event.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said Bourbonnais misspoke when he said that issues have to be worked out with "local officials" before another festival can happen.

"It's not so much with local officials as provincial officials," he said. "What we're talking about is liquor licensing and policing, those are the two main issues.

"Neither of those issues are issues that the local elected officials can make decisions on so we're continuing to work with the province and the RCMP to bring costs in line with festivals in other places around the world."

Sturdy said in a previous Pique story that organizers may need a whole new kind of liquor licence in order to put on a future festival. Pemberton believes a "festival-type" of licensing is needed, but that doesn't currently exist under provincial laws.

When it comes to policing, Sturdy said there's a possibility that fewer police would be required for future festivals compared to the first, and to date only, festival in 2008.

Meanwhile, talks have also been taking place with businesses that were impacted by the 2008 event - businesses such as the Big Sky and Meadows at Pemberton golf courses, which saw access severely limited during the festival as traffic clogged up Highway 99 and Airport Road as concertgoers sought parking.

The golf courses were previously the subject of rumours about "buyouts" but managers at both properties later disputed them, saying they supported the festival and that they merely wanted to be more involved as business partners.

Sturdy admitted that discussions with the golf courses are also a factor in a festival coming back to Pemberton but he said it's up to the courses to determine how they want to be involved.

"I know that's of interest to the chamber as well as local government," he said. "It's up to the individual business owners wherever they happen to be to look for opportunity to enhance their business at the same time as supporting the festival."

The Agricultural Land Commission has approved a non-farm use permit every year for 10 years on the Ravens Crest property that served as the location for the Pemberton Festival in 2008. The permit is required in order for Live Nation to hold an event on the property, which is believed to have some of the province's best agricultural capability.

Organizers have yet to take advantage of that permit.



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