Over the last month, I have heard about three events being either cancelled or reconsidered because of the city’s new Special Events bylaw.
The new bylaw itself does not seem that different than its predecessor. What’s different, however, is that the City is now diligently enforcing it.
In the past, I’ve attended many events where the “Special Events Permit” was nowhere to be found. This piece of paper, which used to cost $400, was something many event organizers were unaware they had to obtain and got away with not getting; there are too many events taking place for the City to attend every single one of them and make sure paperwork is in order, especially on the week-ends.
Event organizers were also oblivious to the fact they needed insurance to the tune of 2 million dollars.
Essentially, the cost of the permit has increased only by $100 if you hold an event with less than 24 vendors, and $400 if you hold a bigger event.
For people who hold events that attract thousands of visitors, it’s a drop in the bucket, but for those smaller scale community outings, who did not have this fee before, it’s huge! Especially if they are holding a fundraiser and charged their vendors a minimal fee.
Also,, the paperwork involved–organizers have to make sure all vendors comply with the updated bylaw according to their industry–can be intimidating. But vendors who fall under the event’s umbrella no longer have to get an individual license with the City, which is very positive. However, again, few organizers knew their vendors needed a license in the first place, therefore don’t fully grasp the advantage of this.
“This is detrimental to my event,” said Annie Derochie, founder of CoTiCon. “I did not expect this. My vendors fees of $50 for entrepreneurs and $35 for artists barely pays for the hall and AV rentals as it is. I’m having to do a lot of soul searching. I do love CoTiCon and so do the youth in the community, but I just can’t risk the costs. We are looking at putting the venue in South Glengarry as an option (where no fees are charged!).”
Other events that may be in jeopardy are the kids expo an the health and wellness fair.
And don’t forget. Whether you are holding the event at the Ramada Inn, at the Complex, at the Agora Centre or even in your own backyard, you need to apply for this permit. Not doing so can get you in trouble. A first omission can cost you $3000 and subsequent ones $5000.
I understand the reasons behind this update, but I fear the wording it contains will scare potential promoters to look at Cornwall in the first place.
If you are an event promoter, I would love to hear your take.