WayHome Music & Arts Festival may have broken the terms of their permit and ignored indigenous tribes who voiced concerns that the three day camping event would desecrate sacred sites, a new report from APTN alleges.
Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, the owners of the festival which takes place in Oro-Medonte, Ontario and completed its 2016 edition last weekend, are accused of deliberately ignoring the terms of the permit, which allegedly did not permit camping or parking. WayHome applied with the local township for full access to the 500 acre land, but were only given a restricted permit of 92 acres. However, a video report from APTN claims that "thousands of people" were not stopped from camping and parking in areas outside of the permitted zones.
The Huron-Wendat believe that the site may have been their ancestral land up until around 1650. Any land once occupied by the Huron-Wendat at this time would have also been a burial ground. Jamie Lemon, an archaeologist hired by Burl's Creek echoed this possibility, and in a March 2 report recommended that further soil tests and assessments proceed.
David Donnelly, a lawyer for Save Oro – a group which has been protesting the festival's perceived environmental impact since its inception – said the Huron-Wendat asked the province to stop the concerts. "The potential for destroying those archaeological resources was too high," he said.
“It’s totally disgusting to First Nations,” Donnelly said. “The province of Ontario told the concert promoter 'Do not hold camping and parking as part of the concerts.'”
A letter sent from Blair Rohaly, manager of the archaeology unit at the Ontario Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport, to Jamie Lemon described the effects a music festival could have on sensitive archaeological sites. “The cumulative effects of driving and parking on an archaeological site can include rutting, soil displacement and compaction which can be significant on as-yet-to-be discovered archaeological sites,” he wrote.
There were concerns that WayHome would not abide by the terms of the permit before the festival even began. Mayor Harry Hughes told APTN that last year the township levied a $200,000 fine against the festival for using all of the land for their 2015 edition. “The possibility of them using the land again was a possibility that could well occur,” he said, adding that bylaw officers would be present at the 2016 festival to observe if any infractions took place.
The FADER has reached out to WayHome for comment.