OMB rules in favour of Burl’s Creek
ORO-MEDONTE TWP. WayHome can legally call Burl’s Creek home, finally.
The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruled in favour of Burl’s Creek Event Grounds’ temporary-use zoning bylaw application allowing for approximately 330 acres to be zoned for temporary camping, parking concessions and recreational soccer for 27 days each year.
The formal decision from board members Richard Makuch and David Lanthier had not been made public before press time.
Officials from Oro-Medonte Township and Republic Live announced the ruling at a joint press conference Friday afternoon.
The ruling had come down earlier in the day.
Stan Dunford, who owns Burl’s Creek and Republic Live, said he was relieved by the ruling, but remained dismayed the process unfolded the way it did. “It’s really unfortunate that something this beneficial for the community had to take that long and cost that much money,” he said. “But it did, and I’m just extremely happy with the outcome.
“Now we can finally move forward and try to do more for the community with the event grounds.”
The parties were still working their way through the ruling when the decision was publicly announced.
“We’re just waiting for a comment now from our lawyers,” said Wendy McKay, one of the directors of Save Oro, a residents’ group which opposed the bylaw alongside the West Oro Ratepayers Association. “As soon as we have that we will put that out.
“That’s the only thing that I could say now,” she added. “I think (the lawyers are) going to do that very shortly.”
The township had to set a meeting with its solicitor as well.
Charges against Republic Live, laid by the township, stemming from the use of improperly zoned land during last year’s festival season, remain before a provincial offences court.
Mayor Harry Hughes said during the press conference the zoning would be retroactive to 2016, when the OMB hearing first started.
Where that leaves the prosecution against Republic Live is unknown.
“We haven’t had a chance to hardly see (the decision),” Hughes said. “We’ll be looking at it and weighing in on that . ... We’ll have to consult our legal counsel, but we’ll be able to announce those sorts of things, I expect, in the near future.”
Hughes believes the ruling vindicated the work of township staff.
“Our planning staff looked at all the issues that had to do with good planning, which means it’s appropriate for all the conditions that protects the township’s natural heritage, all those kinds of aspects,” the mayor said. “At the same time, there’s a judgment that says that this event can work and work well within the township, while having regard for the needs of the residents.”
A permanent bylaw application remains as an open file at both the county and township levels. Getting that process completed is next on the docket for Dunford and his companies.
The Montagnais Métis First Nation, which opposed the temporary-zoning bylaw, and Support Oro, which was in favour, were also parties to the ruling, which spanned three public pre-hearings and 11 days of testimony between February 2016 and January 2017.
WayHome Music & Arts Festival runs July 28-30, while Boots and Hearts Music Festival takes place two weeks later, Aug. 10-13. The third addition to the summer lineup, The Big Feastival, debuts Aug. 18-20.
Oro-Medonte Township Mayor Harry Hughes, left, and Republic Live/Burl's Creek owner Stan Dunford shake hands in front of a large crowd lined up for free WayHome festival tickets after announcing the Ontario Municipal Board ruling in the temporary-use zoning bylaw hearing had come down in Dunford's favour on Friday.