Toronto Star

WayHome noise levels upset area residents

35,000 people attended the three-day event in Oro Medonte, which featured Neil Young, Kendrick Lamar and Sam Smith

- TAMARA KHANDAKER STAFF REPORTER

Oro Medonte resident Nicole Laframbois­e got to listen to the sounds of the WayHome Music and Arts Festival from the comfort of her own bed, but she wasn’t thrilled about it.

Laframbois­e didn’t expect much of an intrusion from the event, as it was taking place at a site about three kilometres away from her home this weekend, and was alarmed by the level of noise as the music still blared at 1:40 a.m., keeping her and her daughter awake.

“With earplugs in my ears and the windows closed, I could still hear the music,” says Laframbois­e. “I was vibrating in my bed.

“It’s hot out and you’d like to be able to open your window, but you can’t because it’s so loud,” she said.

Jackie Dupuis, who lives four kilometres away from the event site on Lake Simcoe, also says she could feel her house shaking.

“When Kendrick Lamar was on, I recognized his music because I heard the lyrics clearly in my backyard,” she says. “I could sing along and dance down here, four kilometres from the site.”

She says the noise permeated the walls of her house even after the windows were shut and the air conditioni­ng was turned on.

Last week, the township posted acceptable sound levels for the festival on its website, limiting them to 65 decibels between 7 a.m. and midnight, at which point the limit drops to 45 decibels — about the same level of noise typically heard in a library. Oro Medonte’s deputy mayor Ralph Hough said the township and the owners of the Burl’s Creek event grounds had come to an agreement about noise levels just a few days ahead of the festival.

“Everything’s a bit of a rush because there were so many issues they were trying to work through,” he said.

Representa­tives of Burl’s Creek event grounds could not be reached for comment.

Laura Kennedy, spokeswoma­n for Republic Live, the organizers of WayHome, said the music ended at 2 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

She added that while there currently isn’t a noise bylaw in Oro Medonte, Burl’s Creek event grounds is collaborat­ing with the township to develop one.

Hough says he also received numerous complaints from residents about excessive noise.

“Our bylaw staff are monitoring the noise levels, and I agree there are a lot of unhappy residents, and justifiabl­y so, with the volume and the nature of the music,” he said.

Controvers­y has surrounded the event as SaveOro and the West Oro Ratepayers’ Associatio­n, citizens’ organizati­ons representi­ng more than 800 people, have been working to prevent the expansion of Burl’s Creek (where WayHome is taking place) and the rezoning of prime agricultur­al lands.

The two groups have been at odds with event organizers for months over the impact of the festival on surroundin­g communitie­s.

In mid-July, a special events permit was issued to WayHome organizers by the township, allowing them to use the 37 hectares of Burl’s Creek that were previously zoned for this type of event, for the WayHome Festival, said Hough.

No permit was issued, however, for more than 160 hectares being used for parking and camping space for attendees, he said.

“My understand­ing is that they are using them for camping and parking, which is in violation of our zoning bylaws,” says Hough.

“As per approved operationa­l and public safety plans, land was used for camping and parking just as it has been by the previous owner for the past 35 years, and we will continue to work with the township to resolve this issue,” said Kennedy, when asked for comment on WayHome’s possible zoning bylaw violations.

Approximat­ely 35,000 people attended the three-day event, which featured Neil Young and the Promise of the Real and Sam Smith.

Burl’s Creek is also expected to host Boots and Hearts, a three-day country music festival from Aug. 6-9.

Oro Medonte’s deputy mayor Ralph Hough received numerous complaints from residents about the excessive noise

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