There is mixed reaction over the new proposed location for the tent for the Cowboys Music Festival, one of the biggest events at the Calgary Stampede this year.
Officials were told they wouldn’t be able to set up at their regular spot on Stampede Park because of ongoing construction on the expansion to the BMO Centre.
An alternate location was found, in a spot of land between 11 and 12 Avenue S.E., where the historic Enoch House once stood.
The hundred-year-old building burned to the ground this past February. Officials say a squatter inside the building lit a small fire to get warm and it burned out of control.
Following the devastating blaze, the wreckage was cleared away and the land has served as a public parking lot ever since.
Now, Cowboys wants to use it to set up a large tent for the Stampede. The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation plans to then keep the tent up for two months, until after the Canadian Country Music Awards.
The city says it became aware of Cowboys’ request to use the land a short time ago.
“We had been contacted by Pennylane Entertainment Group in the past few weeks as they were looking for a new site for the Cowboys Music Festival to take place this year,” said Clare LePan, vice-president of marketing and communications for CMLC. “They were looking in and around the area of Victoria Park knowing that their tent had formerly been in Stampede Park.”
She says the talks are still in their preliminary stages.
“What we’ve looked at is there’s the logistics of does the tent fit and how does that look within the context of the site and how does a tent like that navigate with the area [and] interface with the street with pedestrians and cyclists passing by.”
Residents who live in the community have mixed feelings about seeing the tent set up in the area, especially for an extended period of time.
“It’s a really tough one, personally,” says Geoff Granville, with the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association. “It’s tough because there are no obvious benefits, but you live downtown and just being part of Stampede is part of the benefit anyway. There are potential downsides and the question is how do you balance all those things together.”
Granville says there is a bit of concern over the noise the Cowboys tent would potentially bring with it and the patrons of the tent could be a little too rowdy, especially during Stampede.
“Some people feel unsafe with that. That’s the downside. The upside is, it’s a party time of year and it doesn’t matter if it’s a 100 yards that way or this way; it doesn’t really matter that much.”
LePan says CMLC is also working with Pennylane to extend the period of time they are using the location outside of the 10 days of Stampede but there are several things they are taking into account.
One of those considerations is the incorporation of the tent into the CCMA’s Fan Village for the first three days in September.
“From our perspective, there should be a spectrum of uses for programming in a community. Cowboys is a licenced event. We would like to see something that is more family-focused, accessible and free to the community to utilize that tent structure. We’re looking at those options now, they’re just not all confirmed yet.”
Granville says the community association really wants to see the benefits for the community if the tent is allowed to stay up until early September.
Pennylane Group, the organization behind the Cowboys Music Festival, says it plans to commit three days to a public engagement process so residents can learn more about the plan and voice any of their concerns.
(With files from Jordan Kanygin)