The Grand River Conservation Authority has filed its defence in a $12-million lawsuit launched against the organization by Hockeyfest Incorporated over the cancellation of the 2012 Hockeyfest music festival.
In an eight-page statement of defence filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Windsor late last week, the GRCA asks that the lawsuit be dismissed and says the organization should bear no responsibility for the cancellation of the three-day concert scheduled to take place at Brant Conservation Area from June 1 to June 3.
“Hockeyfest was not capable of organizing and safely conducting a three-day rock concert involving thousands of participants of all ages at Brant Conservation Area,” the GRCA’s statement of defence says. “By Friday, May 25, 2012, Hockeyfest’s breach of contract with the GRCA was inevitable.”
GRCA communications manager Dave Schultz said the matter is now for the courts to decide.
“We will continue to defend our case and let it work its way through the courts,” Schultz said, noting further comment from the GRCA would not be forthcoming.
The GRCA’s statement of defence paints a picture in stark contrast to the statement of claim filed by Hockeyfest Incorporated last month.
Hockeyfest’s statement of claim said the GRCA had no right to withhold the use of Brant Conservation Area just six days prior to the show, despite concerns about the retention of paid duty police officers and event security. The statement of claim said Hockeyfest had every intention to comply with the contract between Hockeyfest and the GRCA for use of the park.
But the GRCA’s statement of defence says Hockeyfest needed to have arrangements finalized with private security, private EMS, Brantford police, County of Brant OPP, the County of Brant Ambulance Service, Brantford Fire Department and Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario in order to fulfill all contractual obligations with the GRCA.
“At all times, Hockeyfest was fully aware of the deficiencies in its plans and arrangements,” the statement of defence says. “Further notice from (the) GRCA or time to rectify deficiencies was neither required by contract, nor reasonably required in the circumstances.
“The consequence of Hockeyfest’s anticipatory repudiation of the contract was to discharge (the) GRCA from further contractual obligations.”
The statement of defence says the GRCA had no part in discussions between Hockeyfest organizer Ralph Spoltore, Mayor Chris Friel and the Brantford police following the GRCA’s May 25 decision to remove Brant Conservation Area as the festival venue.
“(The) GRCA denies that Hockeyfest has suffered damages as claimed,” the statement concludes “(The) GRCA denies that any damages were caused by it and in the further alternative that such damages are excessive, remote and unmitigated.”
The firm Pavey, Law and Witteveen LLP in Cambridge has been retained to defend the conservation authority.
Spoltore said he is meeting with his legal team this week and will have further comment on the matter at a later date.