Regional district shoots down Joe Rich music festival for a second time - InfoNews

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Regional district shoots down Joe Rich music festival for a second time

The Volim Valley Music Festival was supposed to take place at Heartland Ranch, east of Kelowna, however the regional district has decided not to issue the permit, for a second time.
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September 25, 2018 - 4:04 PM

KELOWNA - The man trying to organize a European-style music festival near Kelowna is extremely frustrated after the regional district turned down his application for the second year in a row.

Drew Schultz of Free Flow Entertainment was trying to get the regional district's approval for the Volim Valley Music Festival at Heartland Ranch next summer.

“They won’t return my emails,” complained Schultz. “It’s hard to work with people who don’t want to talk to me.”

He even flew out from his job in Fort McMurray for today’s, Sept. 25, meeting after Central Okanagan regional district staff told him that because it was a negative recommendation, he would have a chance to speak.

“They never gave me a chance to say two words,” Schultz said. “They just voted.”

Gail Given, chair of the regional district, explained to iNFOnews.ca that it’s not normal for someone making this kind of application to be able to speak to the board.

“This is not a development application,” she said. “This is a referral to the Agricultural Land Commission. Last time (in his 2017 application) he was given an opportunity to speak because one of the board members wanted to ask him a question."

Schultz, who was born and raised in Kelowna, was inspired to put on his own festival after attending several in Europe.

“That’s where much of my influence came from,” he said. “That’s where my dreams came from. There was lots of peace, love and granola.”

Rather than having big name bands that tend to draw rowdy crowds, the idea was to have local bands and DJ’s and lots of activities – yoga, art, games, hammockland – creating a much more peaceful type of festival. In fact, Volim, means love in Croatian.

He said he selected the Heartland Ranch for the festival because of it offers camping which adds a bit more of a “personal feel.” Plus, it saves driving to the early morning yoga sessions.

He planned to hold the Festival on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 2019, Labour Day weekend.

Schultz blames part of last year’s failure on time constraints after it took two months to get signatures from the landowners. There were concerns raised at that time by police, fire and emergency services about safety for the expected 500 attendees, partly because it was still in forest fire season.

On March 7 of this year, Schultz sent a detailed plan to fire, police and emergency officials to address safety concerns.

That provided a fire prevention plan that included two volunteer firefighters on site at all times, and designated smoking areas.

He noted that since there are no headline acts, the traffic should ebb and flow between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. The only congestion might be at 11 p.m. But, his research showed only about 100 cars an hour on Highway 33 at that time of night and he would have traffic control in place.

Schultz said he sent out further emails to the RCMP in July and August but never got any response.

According to the report that went to the regional district board, the Joe Rich Fire Department and RCMP did not support the application because of the difficulty of quickly evacuating the area in case of an emergency and lack of resources at that time of year since it would still be in forest fire season. B.C Emergency Health Services insisted on dedicated ambulance coverage at all times.

Schultz and his partner Steve Romaniuk are reviewing their options. That may mean trying for a different weekend outside of forest fire season, such as the May long weekend, or looking for another location, suggesting Kamloops as a possibility.

The effort to create the festival has cost $30,000 – including $15,000 worth of merchandise (such as specially designed water bottles to be handed out for free) that is sitting in Schultz's garage, waiting for his dream to get off the ground.


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