The judge hearing the case of South Frontenac Township seeking an injunction against Loughborough Lake Holiday Park holding concerts, weddings and family gatherings in an ancillary building ended Wednesday’s proceedings at the Frontenac County Courthouse by saying he needed to consider the matter further and will provide a written decision.
Mr. Justice Hurley told Del Vezeau, owner of the park, and acting as his own council and Michael Hickey, lawyer for the Township “I’m not sure when I’ll get it to you” but that he would get it to them as quickly as he could.
At issue is whether Vezeau has the legal right to hold concerts (and weddings) in the barn-like structure he constructed on the property in 2009. The building has been the venue for the Canadian Guitar Festival, a gathering dedicated to all aspects of acoustic fingerstyle guitar that attracts visitors from around the world and the genre’s foremost practitioners including Canada’s own Don Ross, as well as Ed Gerhard, Antoine Dufor and John Ainsworth.
Although the Township has given its blessing to the CGF on numerous occasions (a requirement for Vezeau to get a liquor licence for the event), Vezeau has also held some other concerts including Ambush and Rock of Dimes (fundraiser for the March of Dimes) as well as weddings in the building.
Following complaints from neighbour Maureen Belch, the Township laid charges through its bylaw enforcement officer (at the Ambush concert specifically) which were later withdrawn.
The Township, through Planner Lindsay Mills, then advised Vezeau that such events were not allowed in the Resort/Recreational Commercial Zone his operation falls under (part of the 41-acre parcel falls under the Rural Zone but the services camping/trailer sites and the building where concerts take place are in the RRC zone). Mills also suggested that a zoning change could rectify the situation.
No one seemed to question Vezeau’s right to have the ancillary building for “storage and public gatherings,” only if concerts and weddings could be held in it.
Hickey laid out a comprehensive history of what’s gone on in the ancillary building, at one point mentioning a petition signed by neighbours protesting the concerts on noise concerns, saying “I want to give you (the court) some flavour of the complaints.
Justice Hurley dismissed the petition, saying “I wouldn’t care if every neighbour signed the petition (the question is) is he breaking the law.”
Vezeau maintains he doesn’t need a zoning change, telling the court: “In my view, I have been in complete compliance with the (Zoning) Bylaw.”
The judge’s ruling in this case could have far-reaching ramifications for the area, as well of all of Ontario’s cottage country in that it may become the precedent for what resort owners of all types can and cannot do on their properties.