Cowichan’s Rock of the Woods goes to public meeting

Sahtlam residents are getting their official chance to voice concerns about a proposed four-day Rock of the Woods festival in their area this summer.

A public meeting is being held by the Cowichan Valley Regional District Thursday, Jan. 22 at the Sahtlam Fire Hall starting at 7 p.m. At issue is possible approval of a temporary use permit for the festival to take place in the Riverbottom Road area from July 23-26.

More specific details of the proposal and how to submit feedback can be found in advertisements from the CVRD in this week’s Citizen.

Kelly Black, community outreach coordinator for Rock of the Woods Music Festival, said this week that his group is the first to apply under the new bylaw.

"Last year there was no official process. Rock of the Woods will give a short presentation at the meeting and then there will be community feedback," he said.

Last year there was no formal process so volunteers went around the immediate neighbourhood where the festival was held and put letters on people’s doorsteps and talked to them about the event.

"This public meeting is really just a chance for people to hear about the festival and express support or concern or opposition or what have you,"

Black said. "What we’re hoping is that if people weren’t aware of us before we can make it known what the festival is all about, how we have an operations plan to deal with any concerns that folks may have. We want to hear from people, see what they think on both sides. The CVRD Area E director [Alison Nicholson] will be there. She’ll be chairing the meeting.".

Black said nobody came to RoTW after last year’s event with complaints.

"We didn’t have anybody follow up with us afterwards. Certainly, before the festival there were some concerns about fire, which everybody in the Valley was concerned about last summer. And there were also people concerned about traffic on the road but we didn’t really hear from anyone following up on that. We didn’t have any incidents regarding traffic. Presumably, people were all right with that," he said.

"But, I’m sure we’ll hear from people about those concerns again. That’s why we wanted to hold this public meeting," Black said.

There’s now a process to getting a permit.

The application goes to the electoral area services committee, which decides if the subject needs a public meeting.

Following the meeting, the subject goes back to electoral area services and they decide whether or not to recommend it goes forward to the CVRD board, which will say yes or no.

Black said that, while jumping through all these hoops is great from the municipal politics side of things, it makes it tough for festival organizers.

"It’s quite a lengthy process. We submitted an application in November and we won’t have a ruling one way or the other until mid-February. For large events, it’s a little bit problematic because if you want to book acts, you have to do it well in advance. But, we’re kind of the guinea pigs for this process," he said.

Feedback can be sent to the CVRD by fax at 250-746-2621, by email to ds@cvrd. or mail a letter or bring it to the CVRD office at 175 Ingram St., Duncan, B.C. V9L 1N8. Written submissions must be in one week after the meeting to be considered.