GUYSBOROUGH –Councillor Fin Armsworthy amended the agenda by adding a discussion and later a motion about the Stan Rogers Folk Festival during the regular council meeting in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough on June 16.
Armsworthy informed council that this year’s iteration of Stanfest would include live concerts at the deCoste Performing Arts Centre in Pictou; far from the traditional and original festival site in Canso.
The Canso councillor tabled a motion that was fully supported by council, stating MODG’s CAO Barry Carroll would draft a letter of concern about this move to Stanfest producer Troy Greencorn and contact Greencorn by telephone to discuss the situation, as soon as possible.
MODG Warden Vernon Pitts told media after the meeting that council was very displeased to hear this news adding, “that’s the first I heard about it was today. When we turn around and take a community idea, we leave the area with the idea to utilize it, elsewhere based on a former resident of that municipal unit, to me that is a low blow.”
He said Greencorn “is likely out doing the best he can in regard to who he works for. I don’t fault him for that, but I just don’t like the manner in which it is going down. Council, we decided to have our CAO compose a letter to Mr. Greencorn, but previous to the letter going out to engage him in a conversation on the phone.”
Greencorn is executive director of the deCoste Centre.
Pitts added, “I don’t know if that’s the only route he could have went. I don’t know how Stan Rogers [festival] would have worked out this year down in the Canso area. I really don’t know because COVID, the pandemic, everything seems to be turned over on its head. We as a council don’t think it was a good move on his behalf, and we think it is basically a slap in the face to this community.”
Media reports on council’s reaction to this year’s plan for Stanfest generated a response from Greencorn on the festival’s Facebook on June 18. In a public post, Greencorn said that the media reports required clarity.
He wrote, in part: “The 2020 and 2021 festivals were cancelled as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health risks and restrictions. Over the past 15 months we have received considerable input from our community and broader audience that there was significant concern about staging a gathering in Canso, even if provincial gathering restrictions permitted. In addition to feedback our board gathered, we did a detailed survey earlier this year and collected over 300 responses. We asked, we listened, and we responded accordingly. The community has done a great job of staying healthy during the pandemic by limiting the number of visitors.
“The festival is exploring numerous options for still delivering performance experiences while we can’t gather as a large crowd. A first project involves partnering with the deCoste Performing Arts Centre on five summer shows that will have a small audience at the theatre and be live-streamed. We intend to do other shows throughout the fall and winter. We will be exploring whether the community is comfortable and supportive of a live outdoor show in September and/or other shows in the fall. We would only proceed with the community’s blessing,” wrote Greencorn, concluding his comments by stating, “This is your event, and we are doing our very best to make the next right decisions in an ever-changing situation.”
Monday morning (June 21) Greencorn told The Journal via email that he had been in conversation with MODG’s CAO Barry Carroll. He wrote, “After speaking with Barry, we clarified this was a board decision, and provided [him] and council with substantial detail on the various options the board has been considering for this summer. We also elaborated on the significant public input we received from Canso residents expressing concerns about us hosting events that would draw visitors from outside the community.
“Stanfest is rooted in Canso, and any notion that other locations are being considered is just not based in fact. We are talking here about using an alternate location to stage livestreamed performances during the third wave of a global pandemic. This keeps the Stanfest brand alive and on the minds of our audience, who will be watching from all over the world. We also shared with council that we will be exploring options for events/performances in Canso post-summer, when we are hopeful that community venues reopen, restrictions loosen, and the community is more comfortable to welcome visitors.”
In other business, council hosted representatives from SaltWire Network, the company responsible for flyer delivery in the MODG, about the service.
At issue is the large number of flyers being delivered to vacant houses and flyers delivered to occupied houses landing in ditches, not in newspaper tubes, creating a litter problem. Council has been in conversation about this problem with the company several times this year and Warden Pitts said, “It seems they are trying their best to accommodate our concerns. Some areas it has improved, other areas it has not.
“The councillor in Country Harbour, Councillor McLaren, he’s very upset about it, he sees basically no change in flyer deliveries in his area; they’re still in the ditches, in the driveways, there’s been as many as five at one time in certain driveways,” Warden Pitts told media following the meeting.
“And Councillor McLaren voiced his opinion this evening in regard to that and he stated to council that he is prepared to put a motion forward to cite them under our litter bylaw. If Councillor McLaren so chooses to do that, I will bring that complaint forward to the Eastern Region Solid Waste Management committee, where we have a compliance officer in regard to solid waste and we’ll be pursuing that going forward. They have the option to correct the situation before that,” said Pitts.