City takes large scale events issue to the province for UBCM convention

Mayor and council are already reporting back on one of the highest priority, and most controversial issues they planned to bring up at UBCM.

Penticton mayor and council are already reporting back on one of the highest priority, and most controversial issues they planned to bring up at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention this week.

Provincial oversight of large-scale events was a concept raised by Mayor Garry Litke at a council meeting following the Boonstock Music and Arts Festival. Along with Penticton city council members, he raised the topic again during a meeting with Attorney-General Suzanne Anton and Terry Lake, minister of health.

After the meeting, the ministers recognized the need for oversight and committed to working with affected agencies to create an approvals panel, according to a press release from Simone Blais, the city’s communications officer.

“There is incredible economic opportunity with large-scale events, not only in terms of direct and indirect spending by event attendants, but the ripple effect of community exposure when resident recruitment is taken into account,” Litke is quoted as saying in the release. “Oversight of large-scale festivals is an opportunity to also ensure that resources from agencies like health regions and RCMP are appropriately allocated before, during and after the event.”

The Penticton group suggested a provincial oversight body would assist promoters with pre-planning by outlining a definitive set of event criteria and anticipated timelines for implementation, included the possibility of appointing representatives from the Health Services Authority, Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, the ambulance service, policing representatives, local government representatives, business community local Chambers of Commerce and landowners.

Penticton has a list of issues to bring up at meetings with the appropriate ministers during the week-long convention, including policing, the regional hospital expansion, ambulance services, education and the issue of red tape around waterfront leases, which were addressed in a meeting with Steve Thomson, minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations.

An aquapark project on Okanagan Lake has been on hold for two seasons due to delays in provincial approvals.

“The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations has a stated application processing time of six months. This processing time target is not consistently being met,” said Coun. Judy Sentes. “We would like consideration to be given for revision of the process so that annual seasonal leases would require a less onerous process.”

The 2014 UBCM conference concludes Sept. 26.