Ticket holders ‘frustrated’ after Ontario township denied permission for music festival in weeks
A popular electronic dance music festival in Ontario was denied a special event permit by the local council just weeks before it was held, leaving many ticket holders demanding answers and asking for refunds.
The Ever After festival, a three-day event, is set to kick off on August 12 with thousands of people anticipating its long-awaited return.
Scheduled for its sixth edition this year after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival announced in March that it had moved from Bingemans in Kitchener, Ontario to Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro – Medonte, a township north of Barrie.
But last week the city council said it would not issue permits for a special event due to concerns over operational planning for the music festival. On Thursday, exactly a week after the council’s decision, organizers took to social media to let ticket holders know they would be appealing the decision.
“We are aware of the denial of the Special Events Permit at this time from the Oro-Medonte Township meeting last week,” the Ever After Festival said in a tweet Thursday.
“However, there is an appeals process that we are currently following as well as looking at other options to ensure the EAMF occurs in 2022.”
A township spokesperson told CBC Toronto there was no appeal process as of Thursday.
The festival said that in the meantime it “will go ahead as planned” and will provide updates as more information becomes available.
CBC Toronto contacted the Ever After festival but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Ticket holders request refund
The news left many people like Cyla Daniels confused and disappointed, who paid for her ticket in 2019 and were waiting to leave.
“Two weeks before and they haven’t even given us a chance to get a refund…they’re really not telling us anything,” Daniels told CBC Toronto. “I chose not to go to a lot of shows this summer because I wanted to dedicate my summer to Ever After.”
Daniels has been attending the music festival with his group of friends since 2015.
“It’s really frustrating…we go there every year. All of us. We go together,” she said.
“We used to go with my only friend who passed away, so now we’re going in his memory.”
In a report brought to Oro-Medonte council on July 25, township staff recommended that council not issue a special event permit for the Ever After festival, citing concerns expressed by relevant agencies regarding safety and planning music festival operations.
At the special council meeting, Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes said third-party organizers are required to provide an operational plan that meets the requirements and comfort level of the OPP, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, Simcoe County and Simcoe paramedics. Muskoka District Health Unit.
“There is no time that I can see to be able to rectify these issues,” Hughes said.
“Our top priority must be fostering a safer community,” the adviser said. Shawn Scott added.
“Reports coming from the OPP, Simcoe District Health Unit, AGCO, our own EMS, municipal law… it is clear that all of these entities are not supporting this.”
“Looks like it’s gonna be a never after”
Moon Newhook lives in Kitchener and has been attending the festival with her daughter since 2016.
Newhook, a pharmacy technician, said taking time off was difficult for her and her daughter, who works as a nurse, but they made sure to plan ahead for the festival in August, despite the change in location.
“It’s all up in the air. It’s all on hold. I don’t know if I should cancel my hotel,” Newhook said.
“I’m upset. I’m frustrated and angry. It’s a lot of mixed emotions.”
With more than $3,000 spent on VIP tickets and accommodation, Newhook said the festival should have notified ticket holders sooner.
“Right now it seems like it will never be after.”
Kevin Thériault, who lives in Dartmouth, NS, bought his ticket to attend the festival in May.
Theriault said he spent nearly $2,000 on the ticket, a rental car, flights and accommodation.
“It was a little disappointing to know that wasn’t happening,” Theriault said.
“Everyone really wanted to go. It’s hard to find these kinds of events, especially where I’m from, they just don’t happen here and then they’re pretty rare, even in Ontario.”