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Elvis Festival future still uncertain

Annual meeting on the community-based strategic plan takes a twist for the King of Rock and Roll.
2018-11-19 CBSP JO-001
Collingwood CAO Fareed Amin answers questions about transparency during the public input meeting for the Community Based Strategic Plan. Jessica Owen/CollingwoodToday

On Monday night, there was one matter on the minds of a few Collingwood residents that wasn’t in the pages of the 2018 report card for the Community Based Strategic Plan (CBSP).

That issue was the continuation of the Collingwood Elvis Festival.

Residents filled Community Rooms B/C at the library on Monday night to see what progress has been made on the Community Based Strategic Plan (CBSP) plan and to provide input.

“Rumour has it that this is the last year of the Elvis Festival,” said one resident. “It brings in a lot of people. What’s happening with that?”

“In truth, sir, I don’t think the word comes up in our Strategic Plan,” responded Nancy Farrer, director of planning services with the Town of Collingwood, turning the floor over to Dean Collver, director of parks, recreation and culture.

“In the PRC (Parks, Recreation and Culture) Master Plan – which is in draft form right now, it hasn’t been adopted by council – there is a recommendation that has us reviewing the Elvis Festival at the 25th year and determining what the path forward looks like,” said Collver. “That’s where it’s at right now. There’s not really a finality to anything.”

To read our story on the PRC draft Master Plan, click here.

Collver clarified that repositioning the festival could include such suggestions as reinvesting in the festival, discontinuing the Elvis portion or reinventing a new festival, but nothing is set in stone yet. He added that it would come up as a discussion with the new council in the new year.

“This is my opinion, but I think the town would be foolish to cancel the Elvis Festival,” said another resident.

A man who identified himself as a local small business owner offered an opinion on the other side of the coin: that the Elvis Festival hurts his business.

“It kills my business,” he said. “I’d like to see the festival maybe turned into a classic music festival where Elvis could still be a part of it but we’re not pigeon-holed into a box.”

“All the people who come to that festival don’t bring any money to this town,” he said, to disagreement from the audience. “How does it help small business when the town allows vendors to come in and take away all the business?”

At this point, Farrer called order to the meeting and back to the topic at hand.

“In truth, Elvis is not the purpose of our meeting tonight,” said Farrer. “But thank you to all of those sharing opinions on that.”

There are five goals the initial CBSP set out: accountable local government, public access to a revitalized waterfront, support for economic growth, healthy lifestyle and culture and the arts.

Farrer outlined strides the town has made over the past year in regards to all five goals, including the construction of the Gathering Circle, adding marina slips, dropping the town debt, increasing transparency, and growing the Sidelaunch Days festival.

Council adopted the CBSP in September 2015.

During the public consultation portion of the meeting, one resident suggested increasing taxes by one per cent and setting aside that money to deal with the Terminals. Another suggested investing more resources into the docking system on the waterfront. One resident asked about transparency in regards to the Collingwood Airport deal.

“I think I’m missing something, but I don’t see very much in the strategic plan about addressing poverty,” said another resident. “There’s a lot of poverty in this town and there seems to be a lot of denial about it. I feel that a lot of this stuff is important, like the Terminals and the waterfront, but to have a really diverse, healthy and vibrant community, we have to be addressing the people in this town who just can’t make ends meet.”

At the end of the community engagement portion, Farrer thanked residents for their comments and suggested that looking forward, the new council would likely take a look at the CBSP as a whole and decide whether it needed to be updated.

“When you have a new council, the new council is going to have a... refresh of the strategic plan. I would suggest that they would be expected to look at the plan and determine whether it’s still on the right track, or if there are things they need to add or if there are things they feel they can knock off the bottom,” she said.

To see more information on the CBSP and the 2018 report card, click here.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 13 years of experience to her role as reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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