Hockeyfest 2012 could be back on at Brant Conservation Area, pending final approval from the Grand River Conservation Authority.
Hockeyfest organizer Ralph Spoltore late Monday said he and the Brantford Police Service have reached a tentative agreement to proceed with the three-day music festival this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the originally planned venue.
“We met with the Brantford police today and they have a list of stipulations that they wanted us to adhere to, which, ultimately, we have always been willing to adhere to,” Spoltore said. “We have given the police written confirmation that we are willing to adhere to those stipulations.
“We are now hopeful that the event may proceed as intended at (Brant Conservation Area).”
Spoltore said some paperwork still needs to be done to finalize the concert moving ahead this weekend.
“There has been no signed agreement yet, but we anticipate having a resolution to this matter at sometime tomorrow,” he said.
With support of the Brantford police, Hockeyfest meets the condition of its contract with the GRCA that was cited as the reason the conservation authority withdrew Brant Conservation Area as the festival venue late Saturday.
GRCA spokesperson Dave Schultz on Monday night said that further review is required before the organization announces a change in its position on use of the park.
“It is one thing to accept the conditions,” Schultz said. “It is another to execute them.”
On Monday evening, following a full day of meetings about Hockeyfest, Brantford Mayor Chris Friel said a tentative agreement was reached with Spoltore to proceed with the event at Brant Conservation Area.
Spoltore and Friel were both busy all day Monday trying to figure out ways to save the event.
Spoltore arranged a “Plan B” to hold the event at Ohsweken Speedway, receiving approval from Six Nations elected council on Monday morning.
Hockeyfest was thrown into a tailspin on the weekend when the Brantford Police Service sent a letter to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario saying it would not participate in the event due to concerns about public safety and security.
That prompted the GRCA to back out of hosting the event at Brant Conservation Area. A clause in the GRCA contract with Hockeyfest required Spoltore to provide “paid-duty police officials” at the park during specified hours.
Friel was thrust into the controversy surrounding the festival as a liaison between Spoltore and the police, trying to broker a deal to rescue the concert.
Friel said he is irked by public reaction to the situation causing uncertainty surrounding the festival less than a week before the scheduled show time.
“I’m still very frustrated by how all this played itself out,” Friel said. “I don’t like the fact that people were so bitterly vicious about Brantford and unnecessarily so. We didn’t deserve that. I took all the abuse.”
Friel said organization of the festival was out of the city’s control all along.
“This is clearly an issue for us at this stage,” Friel said. “It is indicative of the problems that exist in private-sector promotion and multi-jurisdictional policing.
“Because it is out of our control, it is easy for these things to happen. It is not always the private sector promoter who is accurate in these situations and people need to wake up to that.”
Friel said security issues have been addressed.
“We are back to where we should have been,” Friel said. “It is a return to a level that is acceptable. This decision is being made on the safety and security of the public — not the bottom line of the promoter.”