Coun. Mitch Tweel speaks during Monday nights council meeting at City Hall. Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Charlottetown Coun. Mitchell Tweel does not want to say “I told you so,” but he wants some progress on a concert-hosting policy for the city.
Back in May of 2012, Tweel lobbied for such a policy during a council meeting. He wants to see an application form with criteria listed for concert event organizers to follow.
He said back in 2012 that some organizers were telling him how frustrated they were.
“I think things are done on an ad-hoc basis,’’ Tweel said in May 2012.
His words have come home to roost this summer on Victoria Row. This is the second year for a three-concert program known as Rock the Row.
Joel Plaskett headlined on July 13 and the Sheepdogs on Aug. 3. It appars the Aug. 31 show is facing cancellation.
Earlier this year, council voted 9-1 to allow the three Victoria Row concerts to run from 9 p.m. to midnight. Tweel voted in favour but Deputy Mayor Stu MacFadyen was the sole vote in opposition.
“I was in favour after I was assured that this community was on side, residents were on side, Confederation Centre was on side, as was the Arts Guild and all the businesses on Victoria Row,” said Tweel.
There was major change following a noon-hour meeting of city council on July 24 that Tweel was not able to attend.
“It went to a four-four tie and the mayor broke the tie to push it back an hour, running from 8 to 11 p.m.” said Tweel. “That threw the organizers into a real tail spin because the tickets were printed, the entertainment was booked, agreements were made with the businesses in terms of food and beverage.”
Mark Fisher, project manager for the event, said following the July meeting that he is disappointed a few complaints led to the change. Fisher said that Victoria Row organizers were carefully timing the program with regard to people attending nearby theatre shows.
Tweel took up the issue again at last week’s council meeting. He asked what criteria were used to guide the sudden change to permitted hours of operation.
“I didn’t get an answer, which speaks to the broader issue,” said Tweel. “We need a written policy when it comes to events being held in this city.”
Organizers need to clearly know what obligations they are required to meet, like in other cities, said Tweel.
“There shouldn’t be any guessing,” he said. “This will work, that won’t work, the residents are going to be upset, the residents aren’t going to be upset, business community is going to be happy, they are not going to be happy. There has to be a policy so all the stakeholders know up front. As it is now, there is no direction and it opens it up to cherry picking,” said Tweel.
He would like to see the economic development committee develop the concert hosting policy.