September 24, 2013 7:31 pm
Updated: September 25, 2013 8:41 am

Boonstock gets the the boot from Sturgeon County

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EDMONTON – It’s official: Sturgeon County has banned Boonstock.

On Tuesday, County Council told organizers of Alberta’s biggest rock and electronic music festival they’re no longer welcome near Gibbons. The decision has left organizers disappointed; but more than a hundred people, who live next to the festival site, are relieved.

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“I’m the little guy, that’s what it felt like. The little guy never gets his way, that’s what I tell myself,” said Ron Ebbers who lives right next to the Boonstock site. “But I’m the little guy and I got what I wanted. So I kind of believe in the process now.”

Ebbers told Global News that every year during the music festival, he would feel like he’s under siege – afraid to stay in his home and afraid of what might happen if he leaves.

He started a petition to ban the four-day event from the area. The petition, with 107 names on it, was sent to County Council, urging its members to force the festival to move. After witnessing the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting – a unanimous decision by council – the relieved resident says it was all worth it.

County Councillor Tom Flynn says that it wasn’t easy, though, due to the economic benefit the festival has brought to the community. But in the end, it came down to the residents.

“When the residents speak up that loudly, we have to make a decision; we have to respond to it one way or another,” he said.

While the mayor, Don Rigney, did vote to force Boonstock out, he sympathized with the festival organizer.

“Mr. Kobza is being held personally responsible for break and enters, I don’t think that’s fair…people are absolutely entitled to safety in their homes. I mean, there’s other things that could have been looked at or could have been done,” Rigney said.

Rigney went as far as to suggest that the council failed to provide a fair hearing, and that there was even a clear expression of bias in the motions presented by some councillors. He felt his hands were tied.

“I’m not even sure Solomon has the wisdom to balance this issue. It’s these issues that really polarize a community. These are the hard ones.”

Colin Kobza, the president of Boonstock, feels the decision was personal, and that some on council have it out for him and the festival.

He promises, however, that although the festival’s life in Sturgeon County has come to an end, the show will go on.

“Our team is going to work really hard to find another community that’s going to be, you know, open arms to support Boonstock,” Kobza said.

“I think there are some big things on the horizon for Boonstock…Boonstock will not be done.”

In just the last six years, Boonstock’s attendance has grown from roughly 1,500 people per day to 14,000 people per day.

With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News

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