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Squamish music festival planning well into the future

Festival sports new name and requests more space to stay competitive



District of Squamish staff is compiling more information on how the community can work with the Squamish Valley Music Festival to allow the festival to grow into the future.

Festival organizer Paul Runnals of Brand Live attended a recent Squamish Council committee of the whole meeting and confirmed that if the summer weekend of concerts is to continue successfully in the future his company needs more space to accommodate larger crowds.

One proposal would build two more slo-pitch diamonds at Hendrickson Fields, the festival main stage area, doubling the existing footprint of the sports fields and giving the festival more space.

According to Squamish's economic development coordinator, there are other communities planning similar events and the only way for the festival in Squamish to survive is to plan for larger crowds.

"Hosting large events and festivals like this is a competitive environment," said Dan McRae, the economic development officer for the District of Squamish. "There's a lot of things happening where communities are doing a lot of work to attract festivals within their community."

He pointed to Surrey, Kelowna and Pemberton as examples of places that are actively looking to host large festival events.

The first festival in Squamish, known previously as Live @ Squamish, attracted 13,000 music fans the first year in 2010 and grew to 23,000 ticket buyers in 2012. McRae said twinning of the slo-pitch fields has many advantages.

"Large event organizers, Squamish Slo-Pitch Association, Squamish Youth Soccer Association and fast pitch for youth could all benefit from twinning the softball fields," said McRae. He said he has heard from the slo-pitch group in Squamish that the group is interested in exploring a field expansion project with Brand Live.

However, he also pointed out that developing the forested land has potential environmental impacts.

In the meeting with Squamish Council Runnals was asked what prompted the festival name change. He said the name was a hot topic at his office from the very early planning days before the 2010 debut.

"There's been a fair amount of confusion," Runnals said of the original festival name, which too many people couldn't accurately repeat. "It was really just trying to simplify and take the confusion out of the marketplace," he said. "Squamish Valley Music Festival is the best descriptor of what it is."

The talent lineup for the festival in Squamish is to be announced on March 1 at a launch party in the Commodore Ballroom.

The 2013 festival is scheduled for Aug. 9 and 10. The title sponsor is Virgin Mobile and Brand Live is producing it in conjunction with Live Nation Canada.

In 2008, Live Nation produced the Pemberton Festival. Late last year Pemberton Council completed negotiations with the Agricultural Land Reserve around a future festival at the site.

The original Pemberton Music Festival land use was tied to Live Nation, but the village has successfully lobbied to have the site available for festival use by any festival promoter.

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