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WayHome music festival to draw thousands despite disapproval of residents

WATCH ABOVE: The WayHome arts and music festival is expected to draw more than 30,000 people from Friday to Sunday, causing residents to raise concerns about noise and safety on agricultural land. Marianne Dimain reports.

TORONTO — The three-day WayHome music festival is set to kick off Friday in Oro-Medonte, Ont. and that has some residents bracing for traffic headaches — or worse.

“It’s noise, pollution and the disruption of 400 acres of prime farmland,” said Bruce Wiggins of Saveoro.com.

Wiggins lives right across the street from where the massive festival is scheduled to take place.

More than 30,000 people are expected to descend on Burl’s Creek for a weekend of camping, art and music with acts that include Neil Young, Sam Smith and Kendrick Lamar.

But many residents say the township should not have allowed the festival to take place on land that is zoned agricultural in the first place.

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Add in concerns about traffic gridlock and the safety of revellers, and some allege festival organizers haven’t done enough to protect the thousands who bought tickets for the event.

“We dont want anyone to be hurt,” said Wiggins. “We hope everyone who attends this concert is safe and healthy.”

But festival staff maintain that’s their goal as well. The event has contracted Odyssey Medical to run its emergency tent which will work in partnership with Simcoe County Paramedics.

“We have physicians on staff, nurses on staff, physician’s assistants,” said Kevin Jones, President of Odyssey Medical. “So we’ve got a full range.”

Dr. Adam Lund is one of the emergency physicians who will also be in the emergency tent throughout the festival, ready to treat patients with minor to more serious ailments.

“People who are coming in hot or dehydrated,” said Lund.

“And of course there’s going to be a small percentage of people who may be suffering the effects of alcohol or drugs and we have to be prepared to service those people as well.”

The township says there will be resources specifically dedicated to the area around the festival for a quick response.

“You’re actually seeing improved medical coverage to the Oro-Medonte area than would normally be here,” said JC Gilbert, deputy chief of operations for Simcoe County Paramedic Services.

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Still, despite the assurances, residents like Wiggins know the WayHome Festival is only the beginning.

Later this summer the Boots and Hearts festival is scheduled to take place at Burl’s Creek.

Wiggins wants the Township to put its foot down to protect the land and the patrons.

“We are hoping they will be able to stop the concerts in the future,” said Wiggins.