Should they rock on in Sahtlam?

Annual Rock of the Woods music festival could return to Cowichan River, pending approval.

A young family enjoys the Rock of the Woods festival as it made its debut in Sahtlam last summer.

A young family enjoys the Rock of the Woods festival as it made its debut in Sahtlam last summer.

Rock of the Woods has yet to find a permanent home community during its half-decade in Cowichan.

A meeting next Thursday could determine if that pattern will continue.

A relatively small summer music festival featuring West Coast indie rock acts and catering to a mostly 20-something audience, Rock of the Woods moved to Sahtlam last year after earlier runs in Bamberton and Glenora.

Although police and media reported crowds at the event — staged on a private property bordering the Cowichan River during the last weekend of July — were well-behaved, its lead-up was punctuated by a series of concerns and questions by area residents.

High on their list of grievances was a lack of public consultation prior to its approval.

Thursday’s meeting is an attempt to rectify that.

“What is unique about this meeting is that it will be the first of its kind under a new temporary use permit bylaw that was created for events over 250 people in Cowichan Valley Regional District Area E,” Rock of the Woods community outreach co-ordinator Kelly Black said.

“The CVRD generally does not have zoning or other bylaws in place for large events and we are, in essence, the test case for how this new Area E bylaw and process works.

“This meeting should prove interesting, not only to hear from the festival and residents about the future of this great community music event, but also to better understand how this new process works.”

Because Rock of the Woods 2014 was expecting less than 500 attendees, it was not subject to a vigourous public approval process. This new process was instigated by previous Area E Director Loren Duncan in the wake of letters and a petition last spring from people concerned about noise, traffic safety, alcohol and threats to riverside habitat.

News Leader Pictorial reporter Peter W. Rusland reported well-behaved good times during his visit.

“Woodheads of all ages were soaking up rays, frolicking in the river’s super-cool swimming hole, playing games such as bean-bag toss, sipping a beverage, enjoying lunch, and listening to a bunch of bands on the single stage perched on private property in Sahtlam, owned by hosts Sarah Devito and Clay Frost,” he wrote in July.

This year’s festival is scheduled for the same Sahtlam property at 4383 Irvine Drive, called the Rock of the Woods Ranch.

Promoter Dave Bain said the festival worked hard to address neighbourhood concerns and aimed to set a new standard for environmental sensitivity and sustainability with car-pooling and on-site recycling. It features overnight camping and markets itself as family-friendly.

The CVRD wants to hear from you how successful they were before approving a sequel.

The Jan. 22 meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Sahtlam Fire Hall, 4384 Cowichan Lake Rd.

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