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SLRD forwards Pemberton Festival application to ALC

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Now begins the wait to see if the Pemberton Festival can happen on the same site next year.

In a special meeting convened on Oct. 16, the directors of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District gathered to consider an application by Live Nation for non-farm use on a tract of property that lies in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

The application, which must go through the SLRD’s Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) before it can go on to the Agricultural Land Commission, seeks a non-farm use permit for next year.

The AAC, which ultimately decided to support the application, had some concerns with respect to permanent structures being put on the property such as a permanent stage. They also wanted to see the festival confirmed for a finite period of time, eventually suggesting that it be confirmed for a period of 10 years.

The application then went to the SLRD directors, who added a number of conditions to a resolution that eventually supported the application.

The directors asked that there be pre- and post-event monitoring; no permanent structures built on the land; that all tents and other structures related to the festival be erected and dismantled in a reasonable timeframe, preferably as short a time as possible; that the Pemberton producers’ market component of the festival be enhanced in order to maximize the consumption of regional agricultural products during the event.

Beyond those conditions, the SLRD directors asked that the festival develop a transportation strategy to minimize the use of private vehicles in order to limit parking requirements on the ALR land.

And with those conditions, the SLRD board officially forwarded an application for non-farm use to the ALC, effectively leaving it in the commission’s hands to see if the community can have the festival on the same site in future years.

“Hopefully they’ll have it on their next commission agenda,” said Susie Gimse, director of SLRD Electoral Area C. “As part of that process I know they will once again meet with us, and they’ll be able to deal directly with the application and deal directly with issues related to the festival, and we of course look forward to that meeting.”

The Oct. 16 meeting came after another on Oct. 1 where ALC officials met with Gimse, Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy and Lil’wat Chief Leonard Andrew to hear the results of community input on the festival, which took place from July 25 to 27 and drew 40,000 spectators.

Community input has been largely positive, as evidenced by online surveys and a Sept. 11 meeting where a number of Pemberton residents lavished praise on the festival. Others present at that meeting warned organizers to consult with all necessary parties.

Gimse, for one, wants the festival back, and she said the SLRD hasn’t seen a negative impact on the agricultural capability of the land.

“The festival requires about a month every year, so there’s still plenty of time for farming the land before and after,” she said. “If you look back in time, yes there was a period of time where you saw corn and potatoes on that field, but it’s primarily a hayfield and that’s not going to change.”

Gimse hopes that the ALC will discuss the non-farm use application at their next meetings on Nov. 17 and 18.

Colin Fry, the executive director for the ALC, could not confirm whether the application would be discussed at those meetings.

“We’ve just received it,” he said. “Now, as we would do with any application, we would go through it to determine whether or not it’s complete and then set it up as a file and then proceed accordingly.

“To try and identify an agenda is probably premature at this point.”

Officials in Pemberton and the SLRD have been anxious to see the festival come back after a flood of positive feedback followed the July event.

Various media reminded the public after the festival that organizers had only received a non-farm use permit from the ALC for a single year, citing concerns about the agricultural capability of the land.

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