A decision on whether to allow Angelstone Tournaments to proceed with its international show jumping tournaments, including evening entertainment, has been delayed by Town Council until May 20.
Local residents concerned about noise and traffic are urging the Town of Erin to impose tight restrictions during the five major event weekends planned for this summer on County Road 50.
Angelstone has grown quickly in recent years, becoming a high-level equestrian competition venue, offering more than $1 million in prize money, and staging events that attract up to 400 competitors, 700 horses and 3,000 spectators on peak days. Admission is free.
It does not have the proper zoning for some of its activities, however, including the sale of merchandise, food and alcohol, and evening musical entertainment. It has promised action to deal with residents’ complaints, but has asked the Town for a temporary use bylaw to allow the season to start at the beginning of June.
Resident Dave Jenner urged council to “strike an appropriate balance”, complaining that the scale of events is “incongruent with Erin’s rural tone.”
Town Planner Sally Stull had written a report for councillors, saying she could not support the application since, as of May 1, Angelstone had not supplied any of the required information.
Planning Consultant John Cox appeared on behalf of Angelstone, and council agreed to his request for a deferral of a decision until Stull has had time to review new material submitted a few days earlier.
Completed are a traffic impact study, a planning impact study, a map of the site showing activities in each area and an emergency evacuation plan. All are available at www.erin.ca in the May 6 agenda.
Angelstone has said it will use a new system of small speakers to significantly reduce the noise for neighbours, but the study to determine its effectiveness can only be conducted while an event is in progress. Cox said this is why temporary permission has been requested.
Most neighbours do not object to Angelstone’s equestrian activities, but strongly object to the music and nightclub atmosphere on event weekends. Angelstone says these activities make their events unique, and are essential to their business.
Jenner asked council for assurances that residents “will not be subject to large-scale equestrian-entertainment combined events that will encroach on our investment in the community, and particularly on our summer evening hours.”
“We’ve heard your complaints,” said Angelstone PR Director Lianne Selke, while appearing before council. “As we approach the 2014 season, and before the next meeting on the 20th, we want to have a meeting with each of the neighbours, individually or together, in order to figure out the best way to mitigate these issues.
“We apologize for the mistakes the team has made, and going forward, we want to create realistic goals that we can accomplish together. We understand that the talk has been cheap, and now is the time for action. I would ask that all of you keep an open mind, and that we can work together to solve the problems. By the 20th, we hope to have concrete action plans.”
Mayor Lou Maieron said councillors had met with their lawyer in preparation for making a decision, but warned that whatever council decides is not likely to completely satisfy either side. He urged them to work things out between themselves, but Jenner called this response “disheartening”, since he hoped the Town would act as a facilitator and be a “source of leadership”.
Council made no commitment regarding Jenners requests for a limit on total events in the area, for a ban on overnight camping, for reasonable “all quiet” and “all exit” times, and limiting loudspeakers to the need for competitors and spectators to hear instructions.
The Angelstone website says: “Expanding our services this year will also mean the introduction of all new stabling for 1000 horses, as well as the Angelstone Village and Millar Way (August 2014), a new campground for those competitors with trailers who prefer to live on-site during the Tournament.”