Music festival strikes a chord with council

Penticton gives approval in principle to three-day music festival at Kings Park in July 2012

  • Oct. 4, 2011 10:00 a.m.

You wanna rock? Then i.Rock may be the answer in town.

The City of Penticton will drum up local support for a large outdoor concert as council agreed in principle to a proposed music festival at Kings Park in July 2012.

Chuck Loewen, recreation services general manager, told council that the city stands to gain between $24,000 to $30,000 under revenue sharing agreements with i.Rock Production from the 7,000 spectators attending each of the three days of the festival, which the city hopes to become a draw in Western Canada.

“Unlike an indoor concert, music fans will travel hundreds of miles to an outdoor summer festival,” Loewen said.

Kings Park was chosen because of its size — four soccer fields — and amenities that include two buildings that could be used for change rooms and storage, fencing around the entire area, on-site power supply and access to trailer trucks.

Given its proximity, Loewen said, the South Okanagan Events Centre could accommodate parking for recreational vehicles camping for the weekend, which could add revenue.

With an estimated 60 to 75 per cent of spectators coming from outside Penticton, he said, the weekend will serve as a boon to hotels, motels and campgrounds. A shortage of campsites is anticipated, he continued, adding that the city will negotiate with the school district and green space providers to identify additional locations that could be suitable.

Loewen said a beer garden operated by a non-profit group would be on site, and food, beverage and merchandise would be sold to participants. Non-profit displays and fundraising would also be permitted.

To ease parking and reduce the risk of drinking and driving, a fleet of buses will be leased to operate between various accommodation sites and Kings Park.

And those pesky security concerns that waylaid Penticton’s Sound of Summer concert this year won’t arise again, he said.

“A professional, bonded security firm will be hired for the Penticton festival,” Loewen said, adding that the security plan will be submitted to RCMP, ambulance, fire department and other emergency officials for approval. “A private ambulance service will also be hired and available on site at all times during the festival.”

In July, Penticton council denied Sound of Summer organizers a permit to hold the festival in Okanagan Lake Park after hearing RCMP concerns that safety issues including gang member presence had not been addressed. The festival, headlined by Flo Rida and Lupe Fiasco, ultimately was cancelled because not enough time was afforded to change venues.

The music genre for the new Penticton festival has not yet been finalized, although folk, country, classic rock or a combination of those has been suggested.

The principals of i.Rock proved to be an easy sell for council: Don Kendall, past-president of Peachfest, joins Nakusp Music Fest producer Willi Jahnke, BPG president Chris Briere, local businessman Carl Nystrom and Penticton Lakeside Resort marketing manager Vanessa Jahnke.

Coun. John Vassilaki said he was happy to see “honourable” people from the area on board with the project. He also stressed that if another festival was planned for the area, organizers will have to press through future issues to ensure the city doesn’t get a reputation for failed events.

Coun. Judy Sentes said that while Kings Park is “an excellent venue,” neighbouring residents might have concerns about noise and community groups like SOYSA might be impacted by any damage to the soccer fields.

Loewen said a “comprehensive communications plan” will be drawn up to discuss with neighbours and SOYSA has been contacted. The organization has a tournament two weeks from the proposed July 27 to 29 dates, and provisions will be in place to mitigate deterioration to the fields as well as set up a damage deposit system.

Mayor Dan Ashton said the door had always been left open for another music festival to come to Penticton.

“It wasn’t the event, it was the lead up with the lack of planning that was a concern for council,” he said.

Loewen added the music festival will be geared to the 35- to 55-year-old crowd, with an emphasis on family friendly fun of roving entertainers, child’s playground and free admission for youngsters. Tickets will range in price from $199 to $254 for the three days.

The approval in principle was passed unanimously by council.