A brand new proposal has been submitted to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) in the hopes that another major event can be staged on the grounds of the 2008 Pemberton Festival in the future.
Mayor Jordan Sturdy said he’s hopeful the ALC will view the new proposal favourably, as event producers continue to express interest in using the festival site for summer 2013.
“We would very much like to see that happen,” said Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy. “We feel confident with the options we have in front of us (and) that we could hold an event that would rival the Pemberton Festival.
“But, it’s all based on getting approvals from the Agricultural Land Commission.”
The Village of Pemberton and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) are looking for a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the ALC on the festival site that would allow for an event producer of the jurisdictions’ choosing to hold a major gathering on the grounds. The current MOU in place between the three parties lists Live Nation, promoters of the 2008 festival, as the sole event producer permitted to hold any events on the land.
The village and SLRD sought an amendment to the existing MOU last year that would have changed the wording to what’s proposed in the new MOU and kept Pemberton’s options open for hosting a similar festival.
The ALC advised at that time that it would not consider an amendment, stating that it had “no confidence that the interests of agriculture would be served” by allowing a different producer.
“The recommendation was that they weren’t supportive of amending the MOU, but would entertain a new application,” Sturdy explained Tuesday (Oct. 9). “Their concern seemed to revolve around the idea that Live Nation has the pockets required to reclaim the site if something untoward happened.
“But, I have every confidence that this community … is quite capable of accomplishing the same thing with that MOU, without listing a particular producer specifically.”
Sturdy said the MOU proposal was put forward this summer, and it’s now just a matter of it coming to the top of the ALC’s list of submissions for consideration. Though it’s unclear when a ruling might be made available, Sturdy is hopeful to receive one soon.
“Evidently, they have been working through applications that have been received as far back as February, so we understand that we’re near close to the top of the pile,” Sturdy said he learned during meetings with ALC officials in Victoria last month.
The ALC’s structure has also shifted since the last time the MOU was brought up in discussion, as the commission now has one panel overseeing decisions province-wide as opposed to the previous model of regional panels.
The 2008 festival lineup — which featured both chart-topping artists like Jay-Z, Coldplay and Tom Petty; and lesser-known but critically-acclaimed performers such as Vampire Weekend, My Morning Jacket and Interpol — drew approximately 40,000 people, but the event hasn’t returned since.
“I have no indication that they’re interested in coming back for 2013, and we would have hoped to hear from them by now,” Sturdy said of Live Nation. “I’d like nothing better than for Live Nation to come back.”
Based on the challenges Live Nation said it faced in 2008, that doesn’t seem likely in the near future.
In a letter to Pemberton council in October 2011, company officials said the 2008 festival required “the most expensive policing cost for Live Nation for any event we have produced globally.” It also pointed to B.C.’s liquor laws — limiting sale of alcohol to beer garden-style areas — and infrastructure costs as areas of concern.