Return of Pemberton Festival under discussion 

Property owner, politicians working to create an ‘environment for potential profitability’


A return of the Pemberton Festival is not outside the realm of possibility.

Stakeholders close to the festival indicated to Pique this week that discussions are taking place to bring the music event back to Pemberton but they didn't commit to any dates.

Shane Bourbonnais, organizer of the festival and President of Talent and International Music for Live Nation, said in an e-mail that "conversations have been happening" to stage the next festival but it remains on hold until Live Nation works out issues that will make the festival "financially feasible" for them. He added, however, that the company hopes to bring the festival back "at some point in the future."

Live Nation produced the first, and to date only, Pemberton Festival in the summer of 2008.

Meanwhile Cam McIvor, owner of the Ravens Crest property where the festival is slated to take place, said discussions towards a future festival revolve around costs related to RCMP personnel and liquor permitting.

Asked whether the festival could happen next summer, he said that's "undetermined" at this time.

"What I've been doing is working on some of the major issues and looking for resolution so that we can invite Live Nation back," McIvor said. "Ravens Crest is the principal site of the event and due to myself working fairly closely with the first event, I have a good understanding of a lot of the issues and decided to take it upon myself to try to resolve them."

He went on to say that he's been in discussions with RCMP Sgt. Eric Rochette of the Pemberton detachment as well as Staff Sgt. Neil Cross of the Whistler RCMP and that the police have been "very co-operative" in discussions and a "lower price" is being discussed for personnel than might otherwise be required to handle an event of this magnitude.

"We're all working together to try and bring Live Nation back," McIvor said.

Lawmakers in Pemberton have previously said that a future event may need a whole new type of liquor licensing, perhaps a "festival-type" license that doesn't currently exist under provincial laws.

Speculation around a festival return began when the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District this week endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Village of Pemberton and the provincial Agricultural Land Commission to restore the agricultural potential of the festival site and enhance agriculture through the Pemberton Valley.

The agreement was one condition that the commission placed on the SLRD in exchange for its 2009 decision to allow the Pemberton Festival to take place on a piece of agricultural property once a year for 10 years.

Point 14 of the agreement stresses that the "common understanding" between the regional district, the village and the commission will continue for each Pemberton Festival "to be held in the years 2011 to 2020 inclusive."

Asked, again, whether this means the festival is a sure thing for 2011, McIvor said it's just a "general understanding" to pave the way for Live Nation to put together another festival.

"If we can get the business terms of the event in place we can invite them back (and) make an environment for potential profitability," he said.

The 2008 Pemberton Festival drew approximately 40.000 people to the Pemberton Valley over three days to enjoy artists such as Coldplay, Tom Petty, Nine Inch Nails and Jay-Z. The event was a boon for the valley, bringing an estimated $5 million to the local economy, according to the Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce.

Live Nation has since sought to make the festival financially feasible. Bourbonnais admitted at a public meeting in 2008 that the company "lost a lot of money" on the festival but he didn't specify how much.



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