The District of Squamish (DOS) is making another attempt at implementing a workable special events' policy.
The DOS created a policy that imposed a $5 per participant free for special events held on DOS streets, trails or lands. The policy was deemed unworkable after some event organizers refused to pay the fee.
The members of Squamish Council are now considering a new and improved policy designed to recover the costs incurred by the DOS in managing the long list of special events held in Squamish through the spring, summer and fall.
According to the DOS deputy clerk, 48 events have requested special event licenses for the current season. Charlene Pawluk said the number of events being held in Squamish over the last few years has been steadily increasing.
Pawluk presented details of the proposed bylaw changes with Tim Hoskins, the new DOS director of recreation services, at a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, June 12.
"I reviewed several event policies and bylaws from other municipalities, including North Vancouver, Nanaimo, Comox, Kelowna, Kamloops, Abbotsford, Parksville and Surrey," said Pawluk. The policy she drafted, based on her research, was shared with DOS staff and outside agencies that are impacted by, or connected to, special events held in Squamish.
Despite the fact that staff recommended discussing the issue again at the next regular council meeting, Pawluk and Hoskin both said in their presentation that if council wanted public consultation then event organizers and the public could be approached for feedback on the proposed changes.
"Public engagement is really critical and I kind of wish you had done it a little earlier on in the process before we actually see a draft bylaw in front of us," said Coun. Patricia Heintzman. She said she likes that to be done up front so bylaws don't come before council twice.
Heintzman suggested that instead of dealing with the bylaw again at the next council meeting the issue go out for public consultation and come back before council with public feedback incorporated into another report to council in October.
The other members of council agreed with Heintzman about the need for public consultation.
Coun. Doug Race said all the members of council received a note from Test of Metal organizer Cliff Miller. The letter from Miller encouraged the members of council to take some time to consult with event organizers before moving ahead with adoption of the bylaw timed to work with organizers preparing their 2013 events.
Pawluk and Hoskin said the consultation with event organizers and the public would be done. Another updated version of the policy and bylaw would come before council for implementation by next year in conjunction with the work currently being done to create a recreation master plan for the community.