A music festival at Lake Koocanusa will go ahead this year after gaining conditional approval from the Regional District of East Kootenay.
The organizers of Fozzyfest agreed to move the festival, which was first held at Big Springs Campground last Canada Day weekend, to after Labour Day to alleviate noise complaints from campers on the reservoir.
Now to be held from September 18 to 21, Fozzyfest is expected to bring up to 1,500 people to Koocanusa.
On Friday, April 4, the Regional District of East Kootenay board of directors granted a special event license for the festival.
The license also makes the festival’s organizers exempt from the noise bylaw during the hours music will be playing: from Thursday, Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. to Friday, Sept. 19 at 6 a.m.; from Friday, Sept. 19 at noon to Saturday, Sept. 20 at 6 a.m.; and from Saturday, Sept. 20 at noon to Sunday, Sept. 21 at 6 a.m.
Fozzyfest includes four stages — two set up in the forested part of the campsite, one inside a dome on the beach, and one satellite stage on the beach.
However, the special event license is conditional on the organizers shutting down the beach stages at 11 p.m. each night.
As well, the stages set back from the beach will have the speakers turned away from the lake, and the sound will be reduced by 50 per cent during the later hours.
“I was fully prepared not to support this going forward if it was going to be held on a long weekend in July as was previously proposed,” said Area B Director Heath Slee. “Now that the event organizers have been willing to move this to a time of year when most of the campgrounds are probably going to be vacant, and they have considered turning down the music during the later hours of the evenings to about 50 per cent and turning their speakers inward — they have tried to accommodate every concern that we have possibly had.”
Slee said he realistically expects to still hear some complaints.
“I’m sure there will be a few complaints about the noise level, but I’m hoping that it will not be to the level that it was last year,” he said. “So we are willing to give this a try this year and see what comes out of this event in terms of feedback from the community residents and hopefully it’s going to be a success.”
Area G Director Gerry Wilkie, who originally asked the organizers to supply headphones for festival goers instead of using speakers, remained opposed to approving the special event license.
“In a sense, I think we are regressing as a species when we sanction stuff like this,” he said.
“My god, it’s something that’s fundamentally important to the people that we represent – peace and quiet and enjoyment of their environment, and not to have that disrupted by something that we sanctioned.”
But Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft pointed out that the people who attend the festival could one day become second homeowners in the South Country.
“What today might seem like some rowdy young people or people who are causing a nuisance, 10 or 20 years from now could be the people in the communities who own the houses and are coming out with their families,” he said.
“Sometimes, these events are actually very effective ways of getting people to go to an area and many years afterwards, they may end up becoming model citizens and being members of the community.”