So I wanted to get down to the dirty on what really happened with Rock of the Woods and its Cowichan Valley location.

The normal process for a getting approved for a liquor license is contacting your local RCMP and Local body of government and asking them to endorse the event. I started this process over two and half months ago to find out that everyone I needed to chat with was on there lengthily summer vacation.  After asking the RCMP what my next step could be they forwarded me to the local government (CVRD). On my first phone call to the CVRD they told me that I did not need there blessing because it was on private land and to wait till the RCMP officer got back from vacation for approval. I found this a bit iffy. I called the following day to be forwarded onto the local bylaw officer. This is where it went all down hill. The bylaw officer told me what he was expecting for the event to get approved, and that the material had to be in by noon, it was 11:30am when I called… Fighting through the day I got the material to him at 3pm. This material was to be submitted to the local council meeting the following Tuesday. After following up five times and numerous emails I hadn’t heard a peep back from the by law officer. Finally Tuesday arrived and I was sweating bullets as I had still not heard anything. At 4pm I got a call from the bylaw officer who told me that I had not submitted enough information referring to a 1970 bylaw that had never been updated, and was hand typed… He then went on to tell me that the meeting that I had so desperately tried to get heard in was already in process.  At this point I declared that we just wanted to see this festival happen and we would do it without a liquor licences. Flustered, he stated that because the land was zoned for industrial he would serve an injunction to the land owner if it took place. He then went ahead and called the land owner stating the he had to submit a letter stating they were removing our application of land use.

I was fucked, and heart broken. The festival I had put so much effort into, and my team and I seemed to be hitting a major road block. I ran around getting the documents he asked for and called the replacement electoral official as the electoral official was on vacation of course… Finally I got some new information that there was another meeting that could out rule this meetings decision, that there wasn’t enough information at hand. Working like crazy I met with the Health Authority, Chief of Fire, and BC ambulance all that gave us blessings and were stoked on the event. The next in line was the RCMP officer that had just gotten back to work from his Vacation. After chatting with him it was evident time wasn’t on my side. Meeting him I took him around the site and handed him a 20+ page document highlighting any issue that could arise.  To his credit he was nervous because he had not done anything like this before. He had also come at his on good will as the local government was not supportive at this point. He highlighted some of his concerns and we ended up bringing the attendance down from 1000 to 500 and brought in water trucks to manage fire issues.

The final meeting came. We had submitted all our documents and had all our ducks in a row. Or so we thought. In the early afternoon one of the board members of the non-profit this was benefiting got a call saying that we would not be added onto the minutes and there was no point in us showing up, as we would not be approved to host this event.  We later were CC’d on an email from the RCMP to the electoral body that highlighted he was worried about sexual assaults, arrests, fire, and drugs. To his credit this letter did state that he was not comfortable doing this event as he had not done anything like this before. He had based these thoughts on the negative VEMF article in the Times Colonist.

So heart broken we went back to the drawing board and ended up with a three day festival at two different night clubs. We created the line ups based on type of music and now have gone to work on decking out the venues. Trust me we have put our heart and soul into making this event happen, it isn’t a money maker and is all about a good time. You will be blown away by the inside of these venues, the free gifts, and the amazing music. All of these bands are major up and coming acts that will be very costly to see in the near future. Come out and have a drink with me, we are sorry this couldn’t happen at our original site but promise next year will be bigger, with camping, and at a beautiful site.

To sum up this was an event that had a great loving team that took there time at a cost to them to make this happened.  It’s very hard to understand the decision the CVRD made as this event was giving the local high-schools five scholarships in arts and culture. Now the festival will not make enough money to give back to that fund.  This is the result of fear of the unknown, and local bureaucracy.

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