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Pemberton Festival hampered by liquor licensing, police costs

Live Nation wants alcohol served all over the site, not in beer gardens

Live Nation wants booze to flow freely on the site of a future music festival.

That's according to a letter that organizers of the vastly popular 2008 Pemberton Music Festival sent to Pemberton council before its October 4 meeting. In it Shane Bourbonnais, Live Nation's president of talent, international music, said the key to bringing the festival back is making it "financially viable for all parties involved." Part of that involves changing the costs and regulations around policing and liquor.

"In 2008 we experienced costs and regulations that made it impossible for a world class festival to survive," he wrote.

"We have had many conversations about the cost of Policing, which in 2008 was the most expensive policing cost for Live Nation for any festival that we have produced globally. This is still an area of concern for us that we hope to see resolved by working closely with the RCMP and the province.

"Lastly the liquor regulations, red tape and difficulty in obtaining the proper liquor permits that we experienced in 2008 were incredibly frustrating. Our request is simple; we would like to operate the festival with liquor being served all over the site without having to set up Beer Gardens.

"This is the system that is used all over the world, including the province of Ontario."

Beyond liquor and policing, Bourbonnais said the site would need infrastructure such as water, power and fibre optic cables in order to help future festivals cover cost issues and operations.

He also noted that having trails built to the site would help reduce traffic and provide a safe path for festivalgoers to access the site without walking along the highway.

The 2008 festival, which brought 40,000 people to Pemberton to see acts such as Tom Petty, Nine Inch Nails and the Tragically Hip, took place on the Ravens Crest property about four kilometres east of the Village centre.

That property, brought into Village boundaries this year as part of a boundary expansion, is now the subject of separate rezoning applications that could eventually see an independent private school and a large housing development.

In his letter Bourbonnais expresses support for the independent school, saying it will bring with it much-needed infrastructure and cost savings, and that organizers would look to rent the school facilities if the festival were ever to return.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said at the meeting that Village representatives discussed liquor licensing with representatives from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor-General at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Conference in Vancouver last week.

He said Pemberton has a common interest with other communities including Whistler, which in August learned that the provincial Liquor Control and Licensing Branch would not grant a festival-type licensing for Jazz on the Mountain at Whistler, a music festival that took place over the Labour Day weekend.

"It was interesting to note that (ministry) staff mentioned there were other communities that had the same problems and concerns and I said, 'hey, who are they,'" Sturdy said. "It's interesting to note there are other people out there looking for the same thing.

"It's a legislative issue that needs to be changed, if they're to go to the (festival)-type concept which allows families to participate."


Village passes third reading of Hillside OCP amendment


Village of Pemberton council passed at its October 4 meeting third reading of an amendment to its Official Community Plan that will allow development to take place on the Hillside area.

The reading, however, did not pass without some serious discussion. Councillor Susie Gimse, who doubles as director for Area C on the board of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, noted that the public hearing for the amendment saw 50 to 60 people turn out to express their views, a large attendance by Pemberton standards.

Some of the people attending later forwarded letters to both the Village and to Sea to Sky newspapers expressing concern that the amendment was moving forward at the same time as a rezoning application by proponents of the Ravens Crest housing development.

Gimse said council and the Village could have done a better job communicating to the public the direction it was taking on the Hillside.

"It did indicate to me that perhaps we should maybe take a step back and do a little bit more community consultation before we move forward to third reading," she said.

Other members of council addressed Gimse's comments but ultimately voted to carry the amendment through third reading.