CANMORE – A new policy for the Town of Canmore has established fees for all events held in the community, including ones previously exempted from the fee structure like the highland games and folk fest.
The new Community Event Policy was presented to council on July 3 by supervisor of arts and events Chris Bartolomie, who had previously gone through changes to the way the municipality manages event applications with elected officials in June.
While administration originally put forward a draft policy that exempted the Canmore Folk Music Festival, Canmore Highland Games, Rundle Mountain Cycling Club and Rocky Mountain Half Marathon from the fee schedule, the final policy included a three-year fee implementation plan.
“Based on council feedback when I was here in June the (exempted) section of the pyramid was removed,” Bartolomie said. “Administration would like to recommend a three-year fee implementation program for the Canmore Folk Music Festival, the Canmore Highland Games, the Rocky Mountain half marathon and the RMCC races.”
After five years, the local events would be paying 50 per cent of the cost recovery model set out in the fee schedule of the new policy. Bartolomie said the fee schedule looks at a number of factors to determine the fee for service, like whether an event is local or from out-of-town, non-profit status and whether they charge an entry fee.
For elected officials, supporting events is important, but recognizing there is a cost to the municipality to do so was key.
“I like the policy,” said Councillor Esmé Comfort. “It is important for events to realize there is a cost to these services and a strain on our departments.”
Mayor John Borrowman said the event policy has evolved over the past 10 years and the improvements to how Canmore manages events have resulted.
“Canmore is a choice place to host an event and it will always cause stress in the community,” Borrowman said.
One of the reasons those events were initially considered exempt from the fee schedule was they are long established in the community an in the case of the folk fest, have actually provided capital upgrades to Centennial Park over time.
Administration also reviewed event policies from other well-known event destinations and created a manual for events to help them through the application process.
“The aim of the community event policy is to provide administration with the framework to ensure community events and road closures enhance the community and quality of life for residents and visitors in a fiscally responsible way,” Bartolomie said.
For events, she said the goal is for the policy to provide a fair and consistent application and approval process, and fee schedule. That includes determining when a road closure is acceptable as part of an event.
For administration, she said the policy recognizes there are operational impacts to specific municipal departments and cost for those services. Canmore’s success of attracting and growing events to the community has resulted in pressures on Town operations, the community and volunteers.
“The event approval process has been streamlined to include an application process that is reviewed twice a year, which allows the event committee and administration to look holistically at events,” Bartolomie said.
The event process currently considers approximately 60 events over the course of the year.