It’s official — the Agricultural Land Commission has OKed
the Pemberton Festival for the next decade.
Commissioners with the ALC’s South Coast Panel, which deals with
land use in the Sea to Sky Corridor, approved at a Nov. 18 meeting a non-farm
use application to use the site once a year for 10 years.
The commissioners wrote in a Nov. 25 report that, “with proper
pre-event and post-event reclamation efforts,” the agricultural capability of
the festival site will “not be diminished.”
“I’m thrilled that it’s finally come down,” said Pemberton
Mayor Jordan Sturdy. “I’m glad to see that we have approvals in place for a
longer period of time to provide some certainty for the future.”
The commissioners did, however, attach a few conditions.
In approving the festival for a period of 10 years, they asked
that the proposed uses for the festival be restricted to the boundaries in the
application; that “parking facilities and other amenities” be prohibited on
other ALR lands; that a professional agrologist be retained to help mitigate
soil damage and report on post-event cleanup.
They also asked that a $250,000 letter of credit in the
Commission’s favour be submitted one month prior to the event to ensure the
land is reclaimed for agricultural purposes. They claim the funds will be used
to reclaim the land, resolve any “reclamation deficiencies” and secure advice
and a “closure report” from the professional agrologist if organizers default
on the festival.
None of the conditions phased Sturdy.
“It’s all the things that we expected to see,” he said. “Just
the monitoring, the enhancement of the agriculture, preserving the agricultural
capacity of the property, we were quite confident that we were able to retain
The commission has also asked that the Village of Pemberton and
the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District come into a memorandum of understanding
with the ALC that will outline expectations, roles and responsibilities relating
to the festival, as well as commit all parties to explore and enhance
agriculture in the area.
The ALC wants the MOU to be completed or executed on or before
July 1, 2009. Once that happens, festival organizers Live Nation will be
permitted another three years to hold the Pemberton Festival with the
possibility of two more extensions of three years each, according to the
The ALC needs a commitment from LiveNation that they will take
a “No Footprint” approach to the festival so that all facilities, structures
and equipment will be removed from the property following every annual event.
“The existing condition of the properties as of the date of
this decision form the baseline for subsequent events and the level to which
Live Nation must comply with this condition,” the commissioners wrote.
The VOP, the SLRD and LiveNation were also asked to continue
dialogue with the Mount Currie Band of the Lil’wat Nation to address
“non-agricultural concerns” by the band council and its members.
The Mount Currie Band conducted a survey among its members
after this year’s inaugural event and noted a number of issues, including
traffic, fire safety and security.
Band member Ruth Dick told a September public meeting about the
festival that she had concerns about the presence of drugs and alcohol.
Festival organizer Shane Bourbonnais tried to assuage her
concerns by saying he would speak to Mount Currie council about any issues
related to the festival later that month.
The festival, which took place July 25 to 27, brought 40,000
spectators to Pemberton to see bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Coldplay and Tom
Though the ALC has made its decision, the festival itself still has to be organized. Bourbonnais has noted in previous stories that there is a tight timeframe for organizing the festival. He could not be reached for comment.