Show goes on in Central Elgin despite zoning warnings
CENTRAL ELGIN, ONT. -- The organizer of a music and arts festival planned for this weekend in Elgin County is vowing that the event will go ahead - despite warnings that it could be contravening zoning bylaws.
Jane Magri, who owns and operates Wildflowers Farm on Fruit Ridge Line in Central Elgin, said it was meant to be a festive event to celebrate the honey harvest of the on-site apiary. However, she added the message she received from Central Elgin wasn’t so sweet.
“I was pretty shocked to say the least that something we are zoned for, we were then told we were no longer within our zoning bylaw.”
Magri said the event has sold 100 tickets for Saturday and another 100 tickets for Sunday, following the province’s stage three pandemic guidelines.
On Thursday, she received a letter from Central Elgin saying her municipal zoning does not allow for such an event, but it was a phone call a week earlier from a senior staff member that she said she was really taken aback by.
“That if I did proceed that I would have my event shut down, that I would be taken to court and they would win in a court of law. Any small business like ourself would be devastated and quite frankly sick to our stomach that something we’ve built for 10 years could be torn down.”
Magi said Wildflowers Farm has been putting on events every weekend for the past 10 years, including four festivals per year. She said in 2017 the site was rezoned as agri-tourism, so the business wouldn’t have to get a special permit every time it holds such an event.
Central Elgin Mayor Sally Martyn said Wildflowers Farm has been bending the rules, and no one took notice until recently.
“Two per cent of the farm land is all you can use for your agri-tourism business, and your main income has to be from agriculture. And that’s what our zoning says to them. And she’s saying now that this is now her main income. Then it’s no longer an agricultural site. It’s more of a commercial site at that point, and commercial taxes are very different from agricultural taxes.”
Martyn said she’s also concerned about an event being held with COVID-19 so prevalent in the area.
CTV News has confirmed that Southwestern Public Health has given its seal of approval for the event’s COVID-19 plan.