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OMB decision has conditions for Burl’s

Mehreen Shahid

By Mehreen Shahid, Orillia Packet & Times

Andria Leigh, director of Oro-Medonte Township development services, and Mayor Harry Hughes talk to the media Monday morning about an Ontario Municipal Board decision allowing Burl’s Creek Event Grounds to continue using land covered by a temporary-use bylaw for its events. MEHREEN SHAHID/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

Andria Leigh, director of Oro-Medonte Township development services, and Mayor Harry Hughes talk to the media Monday morning about an Ontario Municipal Board decision allowing Burl’s Creek Event Grounds to continue using land covered by a temporary-use bylaw for its events. MEHREEN SHAHID/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

ORO-MEDONTE TWP.  - 

An Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) decision in favour of Burl’s Creek Event Grounds will allow the use of temporarily zoned land until the end of next year.

An OMB decision that came Friday allows camping and parking on close to 600 acres of land for 27 days during the event season.

But there are conditions around it, according to Andria Leigh, director of Oro-Medonte Township development services, at a news conference held at the township office on Monday morning.

“The (OMB) wanted two specific conditions satisfied: one, was related to a final archaeological clearance from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport,” she said, adding Burl’s Creek is hoping to provide that to the board before the WayHome festival begins on July 28. “The second was related to a condition the municipality had asked for related to the continued agricultural use of the property.”

It’s called an adaptive management plan, said Leigh. It’s a document to be registered with the township indicating how the land will be restored for agricultural use after each event.

As well, during the 27 event-season days there will be no more than five-day events at any point in time, with a minimum of two days of break between events, she said.

With this decision giving the go-ahead for two event seasons, Burl’s Creek is now looking to start work on a permanent bylaw, which would apply to not only the additional 600 acres, but also to land already zoned for such events, Leigh said.

“Burl’s Creek has submitted a permanent land-use application that has been in process for the better part of this year,” she said.

As part of the application, the applicant has submitted a series of technical studies, which are being reviewed by the County of Simcoe and the township. Once those have been reviewed, Leigh said, there will be public meetings, which could be held some time in fall. The process needs to be completed before the temporary-use bylaw expires at the end of 2018, she added.

Mayor Harry Hughes, who was also present during the news conference, said the township is relieved by the OMB decision.

“We would have liked it sooner, but we can still adjust in the timeline they’ve given us,” he said. “We’re looking forward to working with Burl’s Creek with regards to the community and maximizing the benefits Burl’s Creek can bring to the community and the surrounding area.”

Other parties involved in the OMB case, still can’t see the upside of this summer activity in their neighbourhood.

“There is a lot of different things at stake here,” said Wendy McKay, one of the directors of Save Oro, who opposed the bylaw alongside the West Oro Ratepayers Association, adding her lawyer will be looking into a chance to appeal the decision. “It’s probably a great concert venue, (but) it’s just not in the right place.

“It’s on prime farmland, and it should not be here,” she added. “It’s disturbing residents in the area.”

In it’s detailed report, the OMB says no evidence was provided to contradict Burl’s Creek’s claims that there are no reasonable alternative locations in Simcoe County for its events.

And while the OMB report acknowledges the presence of noise from campgrounds, the complaints by a number of residents in the area were around noise emanating from entertainment venues, which are on properly zoned land.

McKay added the group’s lawyer has put the onus on the township to police the events and make sure the land can continued to be used as farmland.

“We know the township does not have the man power to do that,” McKay said. “So once again, in Oro-Medonte, it’s up to the residents to police these events.”

And as concert season approaches, she said, she will be sitting back and taking notes just as she has done before.

“And when people start driving on my lawn and coming through the woods toward the house, I will call the police and tell them there are trespassers,” said McKay. “We can’t go away, because it’s too dangerous to go away. I went to concerts as a kid, and I hope people have a really safe and happy time.”

mshahid@postmedia.com

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