Rock of the Woods festival facing an uncertain future

Out of the woods: Organizers could be forced to find new venue.

After months of uncertainty, the Cowichan Valley Regional District recently advised that Sahtlam’s annual Rock of the Woods music festival be allowed to return for another performance in 2015. Despite the good news, Sahtlam’s director Alison Nicholson told organizers that they would need to find a new venue.

Nicholson said the small community is a poor match for the festival. She said Sahtlam’s main concerns include broken glass and cigarette butts being carried downriver, cars being parked in neighbouring driveways and an all-night, on-site party that occurred after last year’s Rock of the Woods, which was not officially part of the festival.

Rock of the Woods spokesperson Kelly Black said she is disappointed with how long the process has taken.

“A process of six months for a three-and-a-half day music festival, with no previous reported incidents, is unnecessarily long,” she told the Cowichan News Leader. “We at Rock of the Woods do not feel that we have been engaged in a process of respectful relationship building.”

Though organizers said the current site — a rural property at 4383 Irvine Drive — is capable of holding over 1,000 people, the CVRD has reduced their ticket limit from 1,000 to 900 maximum. Black said that along with other conditions and delays, Rock of the Woods may be seeing a drastic change of form.

“If the CVRD approves the festival at the April 8 board meeting, we do plan to have a festival for 2015,” she said. “However, the extent to which the festival is able to undertake it’s many community initiatives and if we will even be able to have a festival that will be in the black remains to be seen.”

Despite seeing support come from across the Island, a majority of Sahtlam residents oppose the festival taking place in their community, by a two-to-one margin.


—With files from John McKinley

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