Lance Goddard hopes his five acres will be shaking once again in Beaver Creek this summer.
The Five Acre Shaker weekend outdoor music festival was a success last year and benefited the Zattzoo Project while garnering not a single complaint. But this year, it was almost curtailed after fierce debate by the Alberni-Clayquot Regional District, all because organizers Goddard and Jess Towers want to grow the event.
Last year, the event was capped at 500. This year, Goddard and Towers want to double attendance and they’re asking for a temporary use permit to allow it to happen in a residential zone.
Beaver Creek director John McNabb and the Beaver Creek advisory planning commission came back with a recommendation that the summer 2015 event be scaled down due to worries that the five-acre property won’t have the capacity to handle that amount of people.
“I’m concerned about the numbers,” McNabb said, adding he’s also heard concerns that the noise makes it difficult for those nearby to enjoy their weekend.
The event is planned for Aug. 14-16.
“I would like to suggest they look at minimizing to a day, the night, and the next day,” said McNabb.
“The scale of the thing really is just too much.”
Towers said that the set costs of running the Five Acre Shaker made a 500-person event impractical.
“There’s certain costs that can’t be rolled back. To chop it in half, I don’t think that would be advantageous to the security and safety of the event.”
Port Alberni Mayor Mike Ruttan spoke out in support of the event.
“I live far more than 200 feet from the Fall Fair and I hear it every year. It’s just one of those things, it’s not a big deal,” said Ruttan.
“We want things to happen in our community.”
“There is social value to this type of thing but there also is social risk,” said McNabb.
Goddard said they’ve made serious efforts to mitigate the risks. Beer gardens will be cordoned off, Goddard said, and parking will be provided on site with no spill-over onto Beaver Creek Road. Security at the event will be at an RCMP-approved 50:1 ratio.
Cherry Creek director Lucas Banton agreed with Ruttan that turning down events like these set a bad precedent.
“It’s sounds like they’re doing their due diligence and I’d hate to turn something down when people are doing the right thing by asking for permission,” said Banton.
“When it comes to noise pollution, I live out in Cherry Creek and I can hear the Fall Fair. Thunder in the Valley, well, there’s a lot of Thunder. These things happen—what do we want? Do we want to have activities or do we just want to do nothing?”
Goddard and Towers have received letters of support from the police department and all neighbours within 200 feet. The Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Department has also been supportive.
During last year’s event, the police received only a few noise complaints and upon patrolling the grounds, did not see any issues with how the event was run, Ruttan said.
“What we’re aiming to do is just provide a platform for local musicians to be able to play and provide the community a place to come and enjoy a musical festival,” said Towers.
“One hundred per cent of our profits go to charity.”
And even the money that’s used to pay expenses stays within the community.
“We’re able to take those funds [we raise] and surge them right back into the community,” said Towers. Prizes from the recent Youth Battle of the Bands included gift cards to local stores and sessions at local studios.
The clothing line was also produced at Cloud City, another local store.
“It’s almost like they all feed off of each other, one funds the other one.”
Keeping things local is a priority for both Goddard and Towers, who both grew up in the Alberni Valley.
“We see the potential that Port Alberni has as young people. We want to see this community flourish in a way we believe that it can,” Towers said.
The duo has said they will look for a more rural location for the festival next year.
The public will have a chance to weigh in on the issue for a 10-day period prior to the ACRD board making its decision.