The Village of Pemberton is tweaking a key agreement that could allow the Pemberton Music Festival to return, but it's giving no indications as to whether that will happen.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said in a report to the Dec. 7 council meeting that the village has approached the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) about changing the wording in a memorandum of understanding that's a condition of the site being permitted as a venue for the festival.
The MOU, an agreement between the commission, Pemberton and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, commits all three parties to enhance the agricultural potential of the festival site and enhance agriculture throughout the Pemberton Valley. It also names Live Nation as the sole promoter of the music festival.
The village is hoping to see that change. In concert with the SLRD, it endorsed a request by Cam McIvor, owner of the property where the 2008 festival took place, that the commission give it some "latitude" as far as the promoter goes, just in case Live Nation isn't the party that puts on a future festival.
"It will be to provide us with some latitude in terms of who the concert promoter might be," Sturdy said.
The commission, however, rejected Pemberton's initial request. When Sturdy called members of the commission's South Coast panel they told him they would be more amenable to a request coming from the community, rather than the landowner.
He thus made a motion at council to direct staff to work with the regional district and create a resolution regarding an amendment to the agreement that could allow some flexibility as far as the festival promoter.
Susie Gimse, a village councilor and director of Area C for the regional district, was frustrated at the commission's reticence.
"It's almost offensive when the Village of Pemberton and the SLRD supported the amendment, and we represent the community, so when you say they want to hear from the community, what do we need to do?" she asked. "Obviously we don't represent the community so how are we going to get the community's views to the ALC?"
Asked during the meeting's question period whether this means there's another promoter pushing for a future festival, Sturdy said there wasn't, repeating that the move was merely to ensure flexibility in negotiations for a 2011 event and beyond.
Asked whether this meant that the festival was coming back, Sturdy demurred.
"There's ongoing discussions," he said. "We are in communication with Live Nation."
The 2008 Pemberton Festival brought approximately 40,000 music fans to the Pemberton Valley to hear acts such as Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails and Tom Petty. The festival was an economic boon for the agricultural community, bringing approximately $5 million to local coffers for labour and other services to stage the event.
Promoter Live Nation has since held off on organizing a future festival as the company works to make it more financially feasible for them. Local authorities, meanwhile, have worked to create the conditions that would allow the event to return.
Point 14 of the memorandum of understanding states that the "common understanding" between the village, the regional district and the commission is to apply for each Pemberton Festival to be held in the years 2011 to 2020.