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Posted: June 14, 2016

FozzyFest denied Special Event Licence

By Ian Cobb


A music festival that cropped up along the eastern shores of Lake Koocanusa in 2013, chased out of Alberta by flooding, has washed out in an attempt to get a special event licence from the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK).

After a lengthy debate June 10, RDEK board members narrowly voted (eight to seven) to not issue the licence to FozzyFest organizers Darryl Stanat and Shawn Lafleur (both of Calgary).

The beach at Big Springs Campground.
The beach at Big Springs Campground.

The duo earlier in the year requested that a Special Event Licence be granted for FozzyFest 2016 to be held at Big Springs Campground on Lake Koocanusa from September 15 to 18, and also produced a detailed emergency response report for report and RCMP consideration. The regional board voted to delay a decision to chew over the request and to consult with RCMP.

FozzyFest is a four-day music festival. It has been held at the Big Springs Campground on Lake Koocanusa for the past three years. The second and third year, the organizers obtained a Special Event Licence from the RDEK as the projected attendance for each event was approximately 2,000 people, a RDEK staff report outlined.

Elk Valley RCMP Detachment Staff Sergeant Lorne Craig produced a 10-page FozzyFest 2016 Special Event Risk Assessment Public Safety report for the information of RDEK board members and staff and event organizers.

“My recommendation to the RDEK is that the event not be held,” Craig reported. “The combination of factors identified in this public safety risk assessment appear to be unresolvable.”

Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle
Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle

Electoral Area B Director Stan Doehle said he would not support the issuance of the special event licence because of RCMP concerns.

“We should respect the RCMP for the knowledge and experience they have,” he said, adding he doesn’t want people to think Area B is not open for business.

“Area B is open for economic development” but safety is a priority, Doehle told fellow board members, noting “the remote location is not a good location.”

City of Fernie Mayor and board member Mary Giuliano pointed out that the event could still be held without a special event licence, but no more than 500 people could attend – one quarter of the anticipated crowd.

Village of Radium Hot Springs Mayor and board member Clara Reinhardt said she thought the FozzyFest proponents have done a good job working with the RDEK and deserve a chance to show what they can do.

“I feel pretty strongly we should let it go, watch it” and go from there, she said.

City of Cranbrook Mayor and board member Lee Pratt agreed. Cranbrook and other communities will benefit from the influx of visitors, he said, and it could lead to inspiring more people to visit the region.

“Some people are afraid they’ll make some noise, drink some beer and have some fun,” he said.

City of Kimberley Mayor and board member Don McCormick argued the board could be making things worse by not issuing the licence, echoing Reinhardt.

“Risk assessments are just that,” he said. They identify risk and steps to avoid them can be taken as a result.

“They’ve taken steps to close every risk. What more can we ask of them?” he said.

RDEK board member and Coun. Tom Shypitka
RDEK board member and Coun. Tom Shypitka

City of Cranbrook Councillor and board member Tom Shypitka also said he thought the proponents had done a good job addressing board concerns.

“The party is going to happen no matter what,” he said, adding a special event licence would allow for check and balances to be in place.

“All the concerns we are worrying about will be amplified five fold if we turn this down,” he warned.

Doehle argued that the main concern is the location.

“It’s like driving down into a fish bowl. There is very limited space down there. I don’t know how they fit in there,” he said. “It’s grown (the festival); we have to deal with that. It’s the wrong place.”

District of Invermere Mayor and board member Gerry Taft said FozzyFest organizers and the board are in a Catch-22 situation.

If it is held closer to (a) town the organizers run the risk of annoying more people so they hold it at Big Springs and it’s now too remote, he said, suggesting to the board that they could make the festival organizers rule followers or rule breakers.

Doehle countered that whether it is 500 people or 2,000 arriving for the fourth FozzyFest, the RCMP will be on hand to monitor it.

“They are still going to be held accountable. It’s not going to be a free-for-all,” he said.

Voting against denying the special event licence were Pratt, Reinhardt, Shypitka, McCormick, Taft, Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth and alternate Village of Canal Flats director Paul Marcil.

Voting for denial were Doehle, Giuliano, Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski, District of Elkford alternate board member Ken Wildeman, Electoral Area C Director and board chair Rob Gay, Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie, Electoral Area E Director Jane Walter and District of Sparwood Mayor and board member Cal McDougall.

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