The Summerfest organizer said surveys conducted by the city asking for the public’s top concerns with Sudbury’s many parks showed clearly that midways and carnivals aren’t among them.
But when it came to getting a permit for a midway to operate during Summerfest, held in Bell Park from Aug. 23-26, organizers had nothing but problems, Nerpin said.
After first being refused a permit for the first time ever, he said they had to agree to move it across the road to the parking lot at the corner of Paris and York streets.
“We didn’t hear directly that we wouldn’t be allowed to have the midway. After we signed the contract with the carnival, the carnival applied to the city for a permit and was denied.”
That’s when negotiations with the city began and Summerfest agreed to move its midway across the street and to reduce the carnival’s operating hours.
“We ask for a bylaw extension every year and it’s granted every year,” he said. “But this year, unfortunately, we were told the midway doesn’t fall into that. So we had to agree to close the midway at 9 p.m. on the Thursday and the Sunday, and at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. So our festival was still going on in the park, but our carnival rides are shut down.”
Nerpin said that as the festival has grown, so too have the number of problems dealing with the city. After finishing one of its most successful festivals last month, the group of volunteer organizers are gearing up for a fight. They’re also frustrated at how difficult it has been to find out what’s going on.
“We’ve been on a goose chase since we first heard about this,” Nerpin said. “We haven’t been able to get any real, defined answers.”
Réal Carré, the city’s director of leisure services, said Sept. 4 that a proposed parks bylaw will be presented to city councillors next month. It contains the same language as the existing bylaw.
“The current bylaw permits midways and carnivals on areas zoned C5,” Carre said, adding under the proposed changes, midways would again be limited to areas zoned C5 without a special permit.
That doesn’t change the fact that Summerfest organizers had to jump through hoops this year. Informally, Nerpin said he’s been told that the midway doesn’t fit in with a broader vision of how Bell Park should be used.
Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli said nothing in the proposed parks bylaw would change current policy when it comes to the midway. However, she said the fact someone broke an arm on a ride in 2011 has to be a concern.
“Last year was particularly bad because there was an injury,” Caldarelli said. “And secondly ... there were a lot of (noise) complaints from people. But I don’t think anything has definitely been decided.”
Nerpin said volunteers hope to appear in front of the planning committee whenever the bylaw comes to a public hearing.