UXBRIDGE: After more than a year of debates, councillors finally signed off on the township’s new special events bylaw at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 20.
With major events at Elgin Park such as the Fall Fair, Art in the Park, Ribfest and Highland Games exempt from the new bylaw, the goal is to better regulate one-off special events taking place around the municipality.
However, there was still some reservation from around the council table regarding possible liability for the township should an event take place in an area not zoned for that particular use.
"It comes down to one thing - if we approve an event on a property that’s not zoned for it, we could be liable," said Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy.
As well, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast argued in favour of keeping the current system of council approving events on a case-by-case basis in place.
"I think we should be dealing with these events as they come in. It’s not broke, so let’s not fix it," commented Councillor Northeast.
But, Township Clerk Debbie Leroux cautioned councillors that it may be prudent to have a single set of guidelines to ensure consistency when approving events.
"It’s a good idea to have some type of outline so that policy is consistent and people know what they’re getting into ahead of time," added Ms. Leroux.
Councillor Northeast responded that it is hard to be consistent with such a wide variety of events taking place throughout the municipality, and noted that councillors should not be looking at hampering any long-standing events in the community.
"I would hate to see any function that’s ongoing wiped out," added Councillor Northeast. "Too many people work too hard to put on these events and bring people to this township and raise funds for this community."
Councillors later approved an amendment to the bylaw that will see special events capped at once a year, and any further requests will need to be brought before council for approval.
"These are one-time events. I definitely have a problem approving 30 events at one time, then it definitely becomes a case of running a business. But, one-time events don’t seem to fit the same way," added Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle.
Additionally, Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy proposed changing a requirement in the bylaw that would have seen any employee at the event subjected to a police background check within 30 days of the event to only a check for the permit holder, with the police check is to be done within one year prior to the event.
According to Councillor Molloy, the typical turnaround time for a police background check (eight to 10 weeks) made it nearly impossible to be done within the 30 days originally proposed by the bylaw.