As published in The Erin Advocate
Town Council has given Angelstone Tournaments
approval to launch its show jumping season and a chance to prove that it can
drastically reduce noise levels. It has also passed a Major Events Bylaw to
regulate any gathering of more than 500 people in Erin.
The first step at the May 20 meeting was a
temporary zoning bylaw, which was approved. It provides the basis for
Angelstone, located on County Road 50, to engage in “agri-tourism” for this
season only, including entertainment and the sale of food, alcohol and
merchandise, to enhance five major equestrian event weekends and one smaller
“Everyone has a right to enjoy the rural
calmness,” Mayor Lou Maieron told Angelstone officials. “This isn’t the wild
west. If you get a second chance, don’t mess it up.”
The second step was approval of a bylaw for major
events “that may cause a public nuisance”, as recommended by the Town solicitor.
Anyone planning such an event will have to follow a series of procedures, get
council approval for a permit that can include extra conditions, and pay a fee
of $200 for a single event ($500 for multiple events).
Only Councillor John Brennan voted against the
zoning and events bylaws, wanting a shorter deadline for Angelstone to resolve
problems. Councillor Deb Callaghan declared a conflict and did not vote on the
events bylaw, since as a member of the Optimists she may be involved in
applying for a permit for the Rhythm and Ribs Festival.
The third step was deciding on conditions to be
imposed on Angelstone as part of a permit under the events bylaw. Council
decided that all activity must end by 11 pm, instead of midnight as planned for
the Saturday shows. The permit is good only for the first three shows up to
July 13. If problems are resolved, council will consider a permit for the
remaining three shows in August and October.
The firm has provided most of what the Town has
required for zoning, except a Sound Study to be done with live events. They
have submitted Traffic Study that will result in improvements to their
entranceway, an Emergency Evacuation Plan and a Planning Justification to show
how the operation will conform to planning policies and the County Official
“Long-term agricultural use of the land is not
compromised,” said their consultant John Cox. A more detailed Site Plan will be
provided. Angelstone has committed to erect fencing to prevent spectator
trespass onto neighbouring properties and to deal with drainage issues. They
have said that special show lighting will not have off-site impact.
Lawyer Nancy Smith, representing neighbours
Fred and Nancy Gilbert, said in a letter that certain structures on the site
should have building permits. She said provincial policy on agriculture-related
uses requires that activity be small scale, and directly related to the farm
“There is no farm operation on this site,” she
said, and pointed out that with 35 days of activity, 200-400 competitors at
events, 350-700 horses, 1,000 to 3,000 spectators and up to 1,200 vehicles, it
is not small-scale.
Planner Sally Stull recommended that council
approve the temporary zoning, noting that agri-tourism is promoted by the
province, and that the Town’s own Equine Task Force has identified equestrian
events as helpful for economic development. She said considering the high value
of the elite horses involved, it is “reasonable” to allow competitors or their
grooms to camp overnight during events, in an area more than 200m from existing
Randy White, the new Chairman at Angelstone
(and father of President Keean White, a top competitor) pointed out that they
had been given a Headwaters award as Tourism Innovator of the Year in 2013.
He admitted that the music has been
“outrageously loud” and that they had done “a poor job of neighbour relations”.
The number of major event weekend this year has been cut from 10 to 5. They are
now applying for required building permits.
He has met with some area residents to listen
to concerns and try to reach agreement on acceptable activity at the farm. Some
are willing to give Angelstone a chance, while others remain opposed,
especially to the evening entertainment.
Sound levels will be reduced overall. Music
levels will be turned down drastically for Thursday nights (piano and jazz
music), and significantly for Saturday nights said White. A sound engineering
firm has been hired to take readings throughout the nearby lands during the
early shows (May 31-June 8). Adjustments to the system will be made for
The new Major Events Bylaw requires a permit
for any event where illumination or sound affects neighbouring properties and which is expected to be attended by
more that 500 people in one day (including participants, competitors,
spectators, vendors and staff).
In considering whether to issue a permit,
council may seek input from the public and various agencies, and may hold a
public meeting. They can consider the applicant’s track record of compliance,
and whether the event could be a “public nuisance” or pose an “unreasonable
risk to public health or safety”.
Up to six events per permit will be allowed.
Council can limit the dates and the number of attendees, and impose restrictions
for sound, parking, security, traffic controls, lighting, vibration, odour and
bylaw can be enforced by the municipal bylaw enforcement officer or the police,
and convicted persons can be fined under the Provincial Offences Act.