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Oro-Medonte residents sound off outside Queen's Park

By Maryam Shah, Toronto Sun

A handful of protesters were at Queen's Park inToronto to protest the use of farmland for a concert venue in Oro Mediate township. They are fighting it in court on Friday May 20, 2016. Michael Peake/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

A handful of protesters were at Queen's Park inToronto to protest the use of farmland for a concert venue in Oro Mediate township. They are fighting it in court on Friday May 20, 2016. Michael Peake/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Oro-Medonte residents unhappy with summertime music festivals tried to make some noise outside Queen’s Park on Friday.

“Our neighbours are violating land use policies, exceeding noise limits, and making it impossible to continue living in our community,” Wendy McKay alleged.

By neighbours, McKay means Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, located in her rural township 120 km north of Toronto and between Barrie and Orillia.

The grounds played host to two popular events last summer: Wayhome Music Festival and Boots and Hearts, promoted by Republic Live.

The owner of Burl’s Creek is also a majority shareholder in the promotion company.

McKay said tens of thousands of concert-goers descend on the small community over a short period of time, some of them wandering uninvited across neighbouring properties.

“One of them defecated in the front of my house, others — too intoxicated to move — fell asleep under our trees,” she claimed.

McKay said a group of around 1,200 residents — called Save Oro — share her concerns about prime farmland at Burl’s Creek not being protected.

But other residents were quick to defend Burl’s Creek.

“In my experience, a large majority of the residents of Oro-Medonte support the development of Burl’s Creek, the farmer’s market, the minor soccer, and the concerts that are held there,” wrote Greg Groen from the local chamber of commerce.

The protesters are a “little group of people that tries to shut everything down,” he added.

A spokesman for Republic Live said it’s a natural site with no permanent infrastructure.

“The entertainment space at Burl’s Creek is all appropriately zoned for these activities and has been for decades,” said Laura Kennedy.

The 2015 festivals reported no major incidents and brought millions in tourism dollars to the area, she added.

“Within 48 hours of both events, the grounds were pristine and used by 700 children and families” for weekly soccer, Kennedy said.

An Ontario Municipal Board hearing about a temporary-use bylaw related to Burl’s Creek takes place next week, Tuesday to Friday, at the Oro-Medonte township administration centre.

“We look forward to the pending OMB hearing and resolving the matter of the additional grounds as quickly as possible,” Kennedy said.

The Ontario ministry of municipal affairs said it won’t comment on a matter currently in front of the board.