Saskatoon

Lumsden reeve says drive-in disruption could have been avoided if owners followed proper process

A petition to save Lumsden's Moonlight Movies drive-in has garnered more than 3,000 signatures, but the reeve of the RM says the controversy could have been avoided had the owners of the land followed the proper processes.

Reeve says public is reacting to partial portrayal of situation

The Moonlight Movies Drive-In Theatre was shut down after operating without proper permits or authorization. (Supplied/Facebook.com/Moonlight Movies)

A petition to save Lumsden's Moonlight Movies drive-in has garnered more than 3,000 signatures, but the reeve of the RM says the controversy could have been avoided had the owners of the land followed the proper processes.

Kent Farago, the RM of Lumsden's reeve, said the cinema started operating without any approval or permits.

Earlier this week, the Facebook page for Moonlight Movies claimed in a post they had been shutdown by the RMdue to traffic concerns and complaints from neighbouring properties.

Thousands of people shared the post, but Farago said they were reacting to an incomplete portrayal of the situation.

"There's a lot of information that is incorrect, and then there's a lot of information that hasn't been shared," he said.

Cheryl Deck, the owner of Outer Edge, said she'll be appealing the rejection of her application to run the drive-in theatre. (Facebook.com/Outer Edge Adventure Park)

A petition on Change.org calling on the RM to reopen the theatre surpassed 3,000 signatures on Thursday afternoon.

The drive-in, which opened on the August long weekend, was operating on land owned by Outer Edge Adventure Park. The business admitted on its Facebook page it didn't have the proper permits in place when it started showing movies.

"Did we wait for the RMs approval before we proceeded to start the first of the 4 weekends of movie nights, no we did not," said the business in a post. "Does any business wait for the OK on every business choice they make? I think not and know not."

According to a news release from the RM, it contacted Outer Edge's owners and advised them to apply for a permit for the drive-in. The application was rejected. 

The RM highlighted five concerns, including traffic safety on Highway 20 and neighbours being disturbed by light from the movie and from patron's cars.

Farago said it's important for businesses to follow procedures so that concerns can be addressed before a business starts operating.

"Let's just picture you live in a residential neighborhood, wherever it is, and all of a sudden in the lot next door, somebody pops up a theatre," he said. "You've got traffic, you've got noise, you've got light shining in your windows, you know, that impacts your lifestyle."

A post on the Moonlight Movies Facebook page, posted on August 27, said the theatre had been shut down by the RM of Lumsden. (Screengrab/Facebook.com/Moonlight Movies)

He said there is strong nostalgia for drive-in theatres in Saskatchewan, and he shares it, but that it's important for people to have a complete picture of the situation before they react.

A later post on the Moonlight Movies Facebook page acknowledged owners made a mistake thinking Outer Edge could simply add a drive-in to its site.

"Looking back I guess that was a wrong assumption on our part," the post said.

The business said it stands by its initial message, noting that, "when Outer Edge did fill out the paperwork to have a drive-in, the RM of Lumsden denied it. Not just denied it, but offered no options to be taken for a future approval." 

The post disagreed with the RMs traffic concerns as Highway 20, pointing to hundreds of cars that use the road every year ahead of the Country Thunder Jamboree. 

Farago said the concern isn't so much with traffic on the highway, but traffic at the intersection by the movie theatre. He said that while an earlier application may have been denied just the same, it could have avoided all the controversy.

"If they were turned down, they wouldn't have built it obviously to start with," he said.

Deck said she plans to appeal the RM's decision, but said legal counsel has advised her not to comment further. However, she said in the post on the Outer Edge Adventure Park that the business wants to work with the RM on a compromise.

"I know they have a job to do, just as we do," the post said.

About the Author

Covering everything and anything for CBC Saskatoon, Morgan is a journalist interested in municipal and provincial affairs, Canadian crime and Canadian politics. Familiar with a variety of beats, Morgan has worked as a staff reporter for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Metro Calgary, Metro Saskatoon and the Fort McMurray Today and now works for CBC in Saskatoon.

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