Big Music Fest team hears concerns over use of Kitchener park

The organizers of Big Music Fest along with Kitchener city councillors and staff held a public input session on the planning and logistics behind one of the biggest outdoor music events to come to Waterloo Region.

Members of Big Music Fest team, City of Kitchener staff and city councillors receive public input

Mark Higgins, right, is the president and owner of Big Music Fest. He says the event will be a big draw for tourism dollars in Kitchener. (Matthew Kang/CBC)

Organizers of Big Music Fest, accompanied by Kitchener city councillors and staff, held a public meeting near McLennan Park to listen to questions and concerns from nearby residents. 

Many in attendance showed their support for the event with clapping and cheering whenever a person thanked the team for organizing it.

Just give us an opportunity to go through it once.- Mark Higgins, president and owner of Big Music Fest

However, Donna Gaulton, who has lived near the park for the past 30 years, was very vocal in criticizing the organizers. She said the plans were kept secret and she was not happy about the traffic, noise and garbage which would come with the show.  

She also accused her city councillor Paul Singh of falsely claiming he did not find out about the event until most of the planning had already been done. 

Last month, Singh told CBC News he was not pleased the event's organizers did not take the proper steps to consult with residents about issues such as noise.

Economic boom to city, says Big Music Fest president

Mark Higgins, the president and owner of Big Music Fest, says he understands why some residents are worried but he ultimately believes the event will be a huge draw for tourism dollars. 

"It's a virgin market, there's a big wow factor here, and we're accomplishing that with ticket sales, it's moving very well," said Higgins. "The impact will be astronomical."

In the past, councillor Bil Ioannidis has estimated the show would bring between $5 and $10 million in tourism revenue.

Organizers say they've already sold tickets to many fans in Canada and the U.S. and even some in Europe. 

Higgins also asked local residents who are concerned about the impact on their neighbourhood to give the show a chance to prove it can be done successfully with minimal inconvenience. 

"Just give us an opportunity to go through it once," said Higgins. "It will all clear up once we go through it."  

The show will take place at the park from July 11-13.