A bitter legal dispute is brewing between management of the Shaw Centre and organizers of the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival.
Court documents claim that problems — including rowdy festival goers and contract disagreements — have been simmering for several years, and finally boiled over after last year's festival.
The Ottawa Convention Centre Corporation filed a lawsuit on December 10, nearly a month and a half after the event, seeking $156,476.21 plus interest and damages from Treefort Hip Productions, the company that runs the festival.
In its lawsuit, the company behind the Shaw Centre claims Treefort failed to pay licensing fees, what it calls a "breach of its contractual obligations."
In an affidavit, Shaw Centre vice-president and chief operating officer called the 2015 festival, held on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, "very problematic."
He cites "many disruptive aspects including over-pouring of alcohol by exhibitors, intoxication, crowd control issues, incidents of theft, intoxicated exhibitors, urination on the show floor and vomiting."
Counterclaim cites 'irreparable harm'
But just two weeks later on Dec. 24, Treefort responded with its own lawsuit against the convention centre, seeking a total of $960,000 in damages for causing what it calls "irreparable harm" to the festival and its brand.
Documents filed by Treefort describe a "long term business partnership" with the convention centre, based on "covenants" that required it to host the festival every year and "protect" it from competing food and wine events in 60-day windows before and after the event.
The company claims the convention centre breached that agreement in 2014 by booking another food show in the lead-up to its food and wine festival.
That's one of the reasons Treefort believes it shouldn't have to pay the licensing fee for which the convention centre originally filed its lawsuit.
But in its affidavits, convention centre management claims such an agreement with Treefort doesn't exist.
None of the claims in the lawsuit, response or affidavits have been tested in court.
Court documents filed by both the Ottawa Convention Centre Corporation and Treefort Hip Productions can be seen here.