The 2018 Canadian Guitar Festival (CGF) is officially cancelled.
Del Vezeau, who has organized the Festival for 14 years, has announced that because of disagreements with South Frontenac Township leading to legal processes, the festival cannot be held this year. It had been scheduled for the weekend of July 27-29. The Festival regularly featured internationally acclaimed artists like Don Ross, Ed Gerhard, Antoine Dufour and John Ainsworth.
“After the judge’s ruling, we can’t really do the CGF, it’s illegal,” said Vezeau.
After three years of negotiating and debating whether the CGF was a permitted use of Vezeau’s Loughborough Lake Holiday Park campground, the township took Vezeau to court on Jan. 24 this year seeking a ruling that concerts and weddings open to the public held at the park were in contravention of Zoning Bylaw 2003-75 and an order restraining him from using his property other than in compliance with the zoning bylaw.
Judge J. Hurley ruled that while concerts were in violation of the bylaw, he was not prepared to issue an injunction.
On March 28, Judge Hurley further ruled that the Township was entitled to $10,000 in costs from Vezeau. According to the Township, its costs on a substantial indemnity basis were $25,214.02 inclusive of disbursements and HST and on a partial indemnity basis, $17,209.66.
Vezeau has put a “blog” entry on his Facebook Page containing several documents pertaining to the case including a potential draft bylaw that would have permitted “an outdoor concert/music festival” as well as “a tourist establishment consisting of 50 trailer/cabin sites.”
Vezeau said that the zoning he already had allows 94 tent or serviced trailer sites and two cabins.
Then there was the question of cost for a zoning amendment which would have cost $2,326 ($1,326 non-refundable application fee plus a $1,000 deposit to cover additional fees is necessary) and potential fees from the Public Health Unit and/or conservation authorities.
Vezeau said he did contact the township a week before the court proceedings to tell them “I’ll take your deal” was told it was too late.
While disappointed in having to cancel the festival this year, Vezeau said it hasn’t affected his health.
“I went to the doctor and my blood pressure is 120/72, and my blood work is good,” he said. “Despite the Oort Cloud that is this situation, my health is unaffected.
“It looks like I’ll be making a $10,000 contribution to the Township over and above what I pay in taxes.”
As to the future of the CGF, Vezeau said he has had an offer to move it to Arkansas but that isn’t likely for this year.
“As for next year and beyond, we’ll let the light shine through and the rats on deck scramble for higher ground,” he said. “And we’re talking about going to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to give the township a much-needed spanking.
“But for now, we’ll take a break and re-calibrate.”