By Angelica Ingram
Say the word Armatec in this community and you are still met with faces of discomfort or strain, especially amongst area politicians.
The proposal that involved bringing a military testing site to a property near Harcourt happened recently enough that it is still fresh in people’s minds, even if Dysart council would like you to forget it.
The proposal was met with public outcry, specifically from area residents and cottagers, and in the end bullying tactics prevailed and the company was denied a rezoning request and left the community.
The process, which I watched from start to finish, was an interesting look at how political decisions can be made based on the power of persuasion.
Looking back I’m not sure all of council believes they made the right decision. I certainly know there are many members of the community who don’t.
So now here we are with another economic development proposal in front of us, this time it involves festival promoter Wolfgang Siebert and area resident John Teljeur wanting to bring music events to a site in West Guilford.
The proposal, thus far, is similar to that of Armatec, in that the proponent behind the proposal must apply for a rezoning amendment in order to move ahead with the project.
Similar concerns have already begun to surface, including traffic issues, noise, environmental strains, real estate prices being affected, etc.
Most of the concern has been raised by area residents, again reminiscent of Armatec, who are none too thrilled about the possibility of multiple music festivals moving in next door. And who can blame them?
The difference between this plan and that of Armatec however is how things started out. Armatec began as a proper planning delegation where CEO Karl Pfister and his planner Heather Sadler brought all the necessary information to the council table.
They had the documents they needed, they had the answers to council’s questions.
So far the same can’t be said of Siebert or Teljeur.
The organizers say details are still being worked out and they don’t have all the information needed, which is understandable, to a point.
However the pair continue to seek a blanket type of approval from council before moving forward with the paperwork required for the planning department.
“The decision for a festival like this is a political one,” said Siebert during last week’s special meeting of council.
Yes it is, but no proper political decision can me made without all the necessary information, which people in this community are still waiting on.
Like Armatec, this proposal is also promising economic spinoff and year round jobs, two buzz phrases that seem to make eyes in this community light up.
Want to get a grant or financial support from the community? Promise some jobs. Want to convince people your event or organization is valuable? Promise economic spinoff.
It’s amazing how many times I have heard those two phrases used to try to convince this community or area politicians.
No one, especially me, will argue those things aren’t needed. However I’ll be the first to ask how often those promises are actually met.
In order for this festival proposal to get the support it needs, let’s start getting some real information, instead of just letting a few buzz words convince us.
We can’t go back and change our minds about Armatec, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this proposal is the answer we’ve been looking for.
Two wrongs don’t make a right.