City staff is recommending Summerfest be allowed to keep its midway, proposing an amendment to the zoning bylaw that would allow carnivals to operate on park land.
However, the amendment would restrict carnivals to municipally owned parks, and would impose some restrictions on how they operate.
“A community special event or festival organizer will require a facility agreement for the park space required for the operation of the carnival (midway),” the report reads.
“As part of the facility agreement, the event organizer must provide a certificate of insurance naming the City of Greater Sudbury as additional insured.”
Other restrictions that would be part of the zoning amendment include:
-a site inspection be conducted with a Leisure Services staff member to determine the appropriateness of the park in question;
-the park must have enough space for the midway devices, parking, support vehicles, crowd gathering areas, etc.;
-washrooms must be provided;
-noise levels must be maintained at acceptable levels; and,
-the hours of operation will be determined by Leisure Services staff in consultation with the event organizer.
The issue of whether to allow carnivals to operate on park property emerged after the 2012 edition of Summerfest.
The festival has traditionally held a midway along with its music and arts programming. It’s a key part of attracting visitors, officials say, and brings in thousands of dollars in revenue and helps keep the festival viable.
Technically, carnivals are not a permitted use on lands zoned for parks, and Summerfest had to obtain a special permit each year to operate the midway.
However, after someone was injured on one of the rides in 2011, and after complaints from neighbours about loud music, the city slapped new restrictions on the midway in 2012, forcing organizers to move it across the road from Bell Park and into the York Street parking lot. The midway also had to close earlier than in the past.
“So our festival was still going on in the park, but our carnival rides were shut down,” said Summerfest organizer Chris Nerpin, in a September interview.
Moving the midway across the street also brought it closer to residents in the area, prompting more complaints.
When it emerged the city was considering banning carnivals on park property as part of a new parks bylaw, festival officials made a plea to the community services committee in November 2012. The matter was then referred to the planning committee, which handles zoning amendments.
At the November 2012 meeting, Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli said the main concerns with Summerfest are how loud the bands play and the lyrics in some of their songs.
Bands often bring their own sound system and the music often rattles windows several blocks away, Caldarelli said. She said no one ever complained about the midway until it moved across the street.
“Truthfully, the residents don’t like the midway in the parking lot,” she said. “I never received complaints about the midway until it was across Paris Street and in the parking lot.
“I’m wondering if it would be worth trying, for this coming year, having the midway over on the grass.”
On Jan. 28, the committee is expected to make a decision on whether to allow the rezoning, which in effect would allow Summerfest to keep its carnival, and allow for the possibility of moving it back across the street to Bell Park.
In preparing the report, staff looked at what other municipalities do with carnivals. They discovered that cities either don’t have specific restrictions for midways on park property, or they allow them under certain conditions. Plus, the report found, tradition is on the side of the festival.
“Historically, parks, in addition to shopping centres, have been the site of temporary carnivals and a number of municipalities allow carnivals in parks,” the report concludes.
“Leisure Services has expressed an interest in having carnivals added to the list of permitted uses within parks and have advised that they will develop a permit process defining operational requirement for carnivals within public parks.
“It is recommended that the table of permitted uses within Other Zones be amended to add carnivals as a permitted use within “P,” Park Zones with the special provision that allows carnivals only within municipally owned or operated parks.”