Monday, May 23, 2016

Amphitheatre defence comes under attack

by Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star posted May 23, 2016 at 10:00 AM
Opponents of a proposed amphitheatre are fighting back. The Friends of Kickwillie Gully are upset with media comments made by Bill Chomik, a Calgary architect working with the Okanagan Summer Festival Society to develop the Kal Bowl next to Okanagan College. "Mr. Chomik, you downplay many negative aspects. Then, you play up what you see as the reasons for this gully being the perfect location," said Joan Rowan, with Friends of Kickwillie Gully. "You neglected to mention that symphony orchestras and dance companies would not be the only performers at this unsuitable location. The facility would be rented out to promoters who would have to fill the venue to make a profit. Then, there would be even bigger trouble with such things as noise, parking, traffic congestion, trespassing, drug and alcohol abuse, impaired driving, grassfires, littering, gross behaviour, and more. Is this something you would like in your backyard?" Rowan also takes issue with Chomik's comments that positioning the facility in the gully and use of large roofs would reduce noise. "You don’t mention that while 1,500 patrons would be seated under the large wooden ceiling, the other 5,000 patrons would be sitting outside the structure on the steep, grassy slopes," she said. "The noise that the grass-sitters would make, clapping, cheering, singing, chattering, would be going in the opposite direction, towards the lake and surrounding residential areas. We know for a fact, from living here, that acoustical testing would be a complete waste of grant money, some of which is taxpayers' money. Acoustical testing could not take into account a combination of crowd noise plus traffic noise plus performer’s noise." Rowan added that noise pollution continues to be a problem with amphitheatres located near residential areas in Canada and the U.S. "Niagara-on-the-Lake residents were successful in getting a very similar proposed amphitheatre project squashed." While Chomik says development of the amphitheatre would have little impact on the environment of the gully, Rowan and her group disagree. "If you think you can build a roofed structure that would seat 1500 people, an access road off Kickwillie Loop, a stage, washrooms, concession and grass seating for up to 5,000 people without disturbing the gravel, sand, lupins, balsamroot, bunchgrass, gopher snakes, quail, prickly pear cacti, the deer, the mice and more, then you would have to be a miracle worker," she said. "We question why you would possibly believe that this gully would be a perfect site when it would sit in the middle of a residential area? There are so many other, more suitable spots that you and the OSFS should investigate. Mr. Chomik, you are doing the residents of Coldstream and Vernon a disservice by downplaying the real story behind the proposed amphitheatre. Kickwillie gully is the wrong location."

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