The relationship between Burl’s Creek Event Grounds and the Township of Oro-Medonte has seen better days.
At the township’s regular council meeting on Wednesday, Oro-Medonte Deputy Mayor Peter Lavoie said he's bringing forward a motion asking municipal staff to prepare a "net benefit review" on Burl’s Creek, the result of numerous complaints township officials received following the Boots and Hearts festival, which was held Aug. 10-13.
According to Orillia OPP detachment commander Insp. Coyer Yateman, preliminary statistics show the number of charges laid at the 2023 concert almost quadrupled compared to the festival’s annual average of 10.5 charges.
“This number is yet to be confirmed and may increase as investigations progress,” he said in an email to BarrieToday.
Yateman also noted that there appeared to be a "substantial increase in calls for service at the Boots and Hearts festival, based on previous years’ statistics."
Lavoie’s motion will be on the agenda for the Sept. 27 council meeting. He has extended an invitation to anyone who had a negative experience to come before council and share their experience.
The intent of the "net benefit review," he said, is to address the anecdotal concerns that Lavoie, other council members and Oro-Medonte staff heard during the course of the event.
In his explanation of the motion, which is typically just a couple of sentences that provide an executive level summation, Lavoie delivered a laundry list of complaints from residents, including “noise experience in residential zones, public disorder, misconduct and mischief and property damage, particularly in and around the properties of Oro Station.”
He said he’s also concerned about the reports he received regarding “operations, bylaws, traffic safety, parking congestion, violations, overflow and delay and, in particular, what the consequences were of loading up the site on Thursday rather than the of Wednesday as was the previous traffic plan.”
Lavoie also wants to know “the consequences of the closure of the Line 7 drop-off and pick-up site on Friday, Aug. 11.”
At that point, the deputy mayor was interrupted by Oro-Medonte’s clerk who advised, “Mr. Deputy, today was to be just a brief explanation on your reasoning.”
“I appreciate that,” Lavoie responded. “There were a number of substantial events, I think, that impacted the community quite heavily, so I do want to draw attention to them because I feel they are quite severe in their nature.”
Lavoie made his motion following an update on first-half crime statistics in the township by Insp. Yateman. Councillors seized the opportunity to ask questions specifically about Boots and Hearts.
Lavoie said he wanted to know if the OPP could, for their third-quarter report to council, separate township crimes from crimes that occurred at the Boots and Hearts festival.
Yateman told council the OPP could develop a specific report that would go line by line in terms of how many incidents they dealt with, what types they were, how many investigations potentially are still continuing, as well as how many arrests they made and transports.
The inspector left it up to township council to decide what they wanted to see and advised them that they send him their request.
“We will put together whatever report you need for whenever you need it,” Yateman told council.
Boots and Hearts producer Republic Live and Burl’s Creek did not respond to requests for comment from BarrieToday.
Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BarrieToday.com