Big Time Out Festival will happen — but not in Cumberland

The show will go on — but not at Village Park where The Big Time Out is normally held in August.
At an in-camera meeting Monday, Cumberland council unanimously voted to deny a Cumberland Village Works application to hold the Aug. 12 and 13 music festival in the village because the RCMP is "unable to recommend the event proceed this year," acting chief administrative officer Dave Durrant stated in a Wednesday press release.

vig Schulman is working hard to ensure the 2011 Big Time Out festival happens in the Comox Valley.

vig Schulman is working hard to ensure the 2011 Big Time Out festival happens in the Comox Valley.

The show will go on — but not at Village Park where The Big Time Out is normally held in August.  At an in-camera meeting Monday, Cumberland council unanimously voted to deny a Cumberland Village Works application to hold the Aug. 12 and 13 music festival in the village because the RCMP is “unable to recommend the event proceed this year,” acting chief administrative officer Dave Durrant stated in a Wednesday press release. Cumberland Mayor Fred Bates said festival organizers failed to submit security and other information required to approve the application in time. “There’s been at least three deadlines set since May,” Bates said, noting the last deadline was July 20. “We kept extending the deadline because we wanted it to happen…They failed to have the security issue before the police for us to approve it.”The village office felt the public’s wrath when word spread about the denied application. “They (Cumberland residents) are tromping into Dave Durrant’s office,” festival artistic director vig Schulman said Wednesday. “He can’t accept all the people. There’s a big push afoot to try and get everybody to rescind.”The event, however, will proceed “full steam ahead” — on a smaller scale without alcohol — at an alternate venue outside but near Cumberland.  “Because it’s no longer in the village they (RCMP) don’t have to supply all the extra officers,” said Schulman, who could not yet disclose the venue. “They’ve told us the things they want us to have in place to ensure they have very little to do.”Schulman notes the venue change will negatively impact the business community in Cumberland.He also notes council has the final say in the matter, despite the wording of the press release.”We’re hiring the best and most professional security company, Live Host from Vancouver,” said Schulman, mindful of last weekend’s tragedy near the entrance to Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay where 19-year-old James Denton was fatally stabbed by a 16-year-old. The incident followed a music festival at the Exhibition Grounds. “The RCMP has a lot on their plate right now. They need to do what they need to do to protect and secure the village. It was really a question of who wanted to or was willing to take final responsibility.” In seven years of previous dealings with the RCMP and council, Schulman said the flexibility that had been a trademark of both groups did not exist this year. That said, he respects both parties. “There’s no adversarials here,” said Schulman, who has organized 800-plus events in the Valley in the past 25 years. “This is a community; we all live in it together. They want the best for the community in the way that they have been given the capacity, and security is an issue.”He empathizes with the positions of Bates and Comox Valley RCMP Insp. Tom Gray. “I understand all the extenuating circumstances,” Schulman said. “Everybody’s doing what they have to do here.” Bates said past festivals have caused “major issues” outside the venue following the music.”We’ve been trying to resolve that for a few years,” he said, noting police have told organizers the setup was poor.”Council has, I think, bent over backwards to try and make it happen, but there’s a limit…I think all of council liked The Big Time Out, per se,” Bates said. “I know some people will be upset, but the fact is they shouldn’t blame the RCMP or the Village.”Gray said the security plan contained “hiccups” in terms of missed dates. Like Bates, he also notes issues — namely drunk and disorderly conduct, and people feeling threatened and unsafe in their homes — that have occurred in the village at previous festivals. “Also I have to express some concern over the fact that we had this murder last weekend,” Gray said. “There are some exceedingly raw emotions that are outstanding. There is some understandable anger about what went on. Public occasions such as this would be very difficult to keep a lid on if something went wrong.”Gray notes the private property for the new venue will feature a “shrunk-down,” dry event. Though not sanctioning the festival, RCMP will provide support with additional police in the area.”We’re still going to be the ones ultimately responsible for public safety,” Gray said.reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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