RDEK grants special event license for FozzyFest

Special events license approved for music festival on Lake Koocanusa after contentious vote.

Organizers are getting an early start on FozzyFest this year, after the RDEK failed to issue a special license for the music festival out by Lake Koocanusa this past summer.

It touched off a vigorous discussion around the table before a close 8-6 vote for a special event license for 2017 was approved, subject to a number of conditions.

Some of those conditions include pointing speakers and the stage into a forested area and use back-drop curtains to dampen sound waves, deposit $1,000 for reimbursement of any costs that the RDEK may incur, have liability insurance of $5 million and adhere to RDEK noise bylaws.

Gerry Taft, the mayor of Inveremre, attempted to introduce a motion to add a $2,000 donation to RCMP to cover costs of policing the event, however, that was voted down.

Stan Doehle, the Area B director whose electoral area includes the FozzyFest location, voiced strong opposition to the event, citing concerns with emergency response and policing issues.

“FozzyFest has outgrown the site; 1,500 to 2,000 people are way too many people for this area,” said Doehle. “Perhaps they need to move to a larger centre. The RCMP have identified the issues in their risk assessment report of having FozzyFest at Big Springs. This also has support from the regional RCMP command here and not just the local command.”

FozzyFest was born out of a birthday party in 2005 and has moved locations a few times, including a spot on a riverbank in South Kananaskis. Now, the event is being held at the Big Springs Campground on Lake Koocanusa by Grasmere.

“In the past years the RDEK supported FozzyFest, but the event was a lot smaller in size,” Doehle said. “The [RCMP] risk assessment was done at that time. Last year, they talked about the remote location being a major problem, also the drug seizures from people attending.

“The risk assessment covers all the issues that we we should respect the RCMP for the knowledge and expertise they have.”

FozzyFest organizers Darryl Stanat and Shawn Lafleur held an event in September despite being limited to only 500 people due to the RDEK’s voting down a special event license.

In a letter to the RDEK, the two said no one from the regional district showed up to assess public safety and hold the festival accountable.

“They would have seen that we operate in a safe and organized manner,” wrote Stanat and Lafleur. “We continued to provide all of the health and safety services in 2016 even though they were not required by the RDEK [because the special event license was denied].”

The two also took issue with the RCMP’s risk assessment report and said that they only received one visit from and RMCP cruiser that approached the front gate and left soon after.

“Although the RCMP wrote an extensive document outlining the risk associated with FozzyFest, they showed no interest with proving the risk or observing our mitigation,” wrote Stanat and Lafleur. “FozzyFest organizers contacted and invited the RCMP prior to the festival and yet they didn’t tour the site and ultimately showed no concern for the public’s safety. We have requested that the RCMP notify us of any incidents in the area that they would attribute to be the result of FozzyFest, but we have not had a reply.”

The two organizers also submitted a petition of support, with signees both local in Cranbrook, the East Kootenay and afar from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.