Burls

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My name is Gerry Kirkby.

I am a Save Burl’s Creek supporter. I have signed your petition and as I was reading all the various material on your/our website when I came across the news release that the fear mongers issued before the concerts last summer, quoting a report produced by  “one of Canada’s most respected traffic engineers” from Cole engineering. His report sounded like it had been written by a member of the Save Oro-NIMBY group !

Anyway, I decided to send an email to the company about the report and their engineer who wrote it and I include the article as published, just in case they had trouble locating it.

I thought you might like to see my email.

The report certainly discredits the fear mongers’ ability to state facts, even when they use professionals !

This is what I wrote...

SAVE ORO’s Substandard Traffic Plan

The predictions and comments by your engineer Michael Tedesco in a report he did for the SAVE ORO (NIMBY) group were so erroneous as to be laughable! I'm sure it is a source of embarrassment for your company and its credibility...I was just wondering if he still worked for your company.

This is how it appeared as released by the SAVE ORO group...ORO-MEDONTE — Expect waits as long as 7 hours and 8-13-km long traffic jams on Highway 11 during multi-day mega concert events at Burl’s Creek if this summer’s two concerts are allowed to proceed, says a peer review report from one of Canada’s most respected traffic engineers.

“Eight kilometer-long queues is not a plan but an expectation of failure,” says the 10-page draft report from Cole Engineering’s Michael Tedesco, which was released today (July 13).”It is an unacceptable disruption to Highway 11 and local roads.”

Calling the traffic chaos caused by Burl’s Creek multi-day mega concerts “severe,” Tedesco warns that normal routines for local residents and drivers heading along Highways 400 and 11 to cottage country will be “significantly disrupted.”

Burl’s Creek’s latest traffic management plan – which is still under review from the Ministry of Transportation and awaiting approval permits just eight days before the load-in for the WayHome concert – has a host of serious shortcomings that need to be addressed, says the report.

SaveOro and WORA is calling on the transportation ministry to withhold permits on the grounds that the Burl’s Creek traffic plan is incomplete and that a proper, comprehensive review is logistically impossible at this late date. The citizen watchdog groups are also concerned that concerts in this particular location will inevitably lead to major, ongoing, summer-long traffic disruptions on Canada’s two major highways, nevermind effectively close down local roads.

The Tedesco report outlines a long list of concerns, including:

* Flow rates along Highway 11 will very likely exceed the ability of Burl’s Creek to move concert-goers onto the property, setting the stage for major traffic jams.

* Long traffic queues waiting to get onto the Burl’s Creek property could potentially block northbound lanes on Highway 11, thereby reducing it to one lane.

* The movement of emergency vehicles could be severely hampered if both the Highway 11 shoulder and one lane are both blocked with traffic.

* Based on Tedeco’s site visit, anticipated car queues will shut down Lines 7 and 9 in both directions.

* Several thousand residents between Lake Simcoe and the Ridge Rd. and Lines 5 and 10 will be effectively “frozen” in their homes during events.

Tedesco was highly critical of the ongoing refusal of Burl’s Creek officials to release their traffic management plan for public review, calling it “highly unusual and prejudicial.” Instead, the plan could only be viewed at Oro-Medonte Township offices.

“It is very disturbing that the Traffic Management Report was, and continues to be, withheld from residents and their peer review engineer,” said Tedesco in his report. “Furthermore, the lack of consultation with directly affected residents is unacceptable.”

Calling traffic flow numbers in the Burl’s Creek plan “illusory,” Tedesco says there is little room on Highway 11 for such huge traffic increases. And the backups could easily extend as far south as Barrie, he warns.

Needless to say, the only thing illusory was Mr. Tedesco's report! NOT ONE of his forecasts of total traffic chaos materialized...there were no traffic backups on HWY11, "as far south as Barrie" and there was no disruption of local routines. Not one resident on Ridge Road was frozen in their home...let alone several thousand of them! And no roads were shutdown! I am a resident of Oro Township and it just bewilders me as to how "one of Canada’s most respected traffic engineers" could get it so wrong !

STAN DUNFORD HAS A DREAM FOR ORO MEDONTE
A short chronology of Burl’s Creek since its purchase

Burl`s Creek was purchased by Stan Dunford from Don Hanney in October 2014.  Stan had a wonderful vision to create the nicest festival park in North America bar none. At the time the new owners were told that the temporary zoning would hold throughout the 2015 season while they applied for permanent rezoning of the parkland. They were genuinely welcomed to the Township of Oro-Medonte as the new owners of the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds by many neighbors and local businesses. Ourselves included.  

Then right out of the blue the new owners of Burl’s Creek were suddenly blindsided with a professional business assassination campaign launched by group of NIMBYs who chose the misleading name of SAVEORO. The SaveOro NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard) hit the streets with small yellow signs that started appearing everywhere. Like if you had a sign you were saving Oro-Medonte from a fate worse than death. Extreme scare tactics became the group's weapon of choice. Why tell the truth when erroneous predictions can be much more effective?  Soon it seems they actually began to believe their own mistruths and they started competing with one another for the most outlandish prediction.

They issued press releases and leaflets predicting 8 to 13 km backups on all roads. Total gridlock throughout central Oro-Medonte before, during and after all festivals. On their first leaflet distributed throughout the township, door to door, they predicted upwards of 80 thousand people per festival. They also predicted 7 hour waits just to access your own home. Finally just before the first festival SaveOro issued the granddaddy of press releases. They said for sure FATALITIES WOULD OCCUR at the festivals because of substandard medical facilities; extreme fear mongering at its very worst.

Simultaneously SaveOro literally overwhelmed the township offices with calls and emails. Meanwhile someone issued multiple freedom of information requests (these freedom of information requests cost the Township roughly $60,000) causing severe internal stress and disruption. SaveOro threatened litigation and basically scared the hell out of everybody. They shouted people off the stage at township meetings. Some Township employees including some councillors didn't know how to handle the situation.

Meanwhile, the population of Simcoe County began to believe these outlandish SaveOro stories; especially the total gridlock and 7 hours to get to their homes. Who could blame them? The result was much misplaced local negativity towards this huge economic engine of Burl’s Creek that could be wonderful for the local economy and for jobs.

Because of extreme pressure by SaveOro just before the festival season started last summer the township rescinded the temporary zoning required for the festivals. It seems the zoning bylaw had been issued in error the previous year. Burl’s Creek were in a huge bind and the SaveOro NIMBYs cheered.

Burl’s Creek had sold almost 75 thousand tickets for 2 festivals and spent untold millions preparing the park and booking artists for these events. If they cancelled they would lose well over 25 million dollars (educated guess) and people would continue to believe the outlandish predictions of SaveOro.

WHAT TO DO?  Here's where it pays to be an executive with guts. This decision truly separates the men from the boys.

Burl’s Creek elected to go ahead with the festivals and pay the fines for two huge reasons. It was not arrogance as SaveOro screamed; it was pure necessity.

               1.            They had a 25 million dollar obligation to their customers. 

               2.            They had to prove SaveOro was totally out to lunch on all counts.

They ran both festivals to rave reviews, almost nary a glitch. The festival results were fantastic. They received all kinds of accolades. There were no car tie ups anywhere. No gridlock whatsoever. No waits to access your house and best of all there were no deaths, as SaveOro so vigorously and erroneously predicted.

SaveOro are trying as hard as they can to kick Burl’s Creek out of Oro-Medonte. Here is what we stand to lose if they are successful and Burls Creek closes.

  1. 250 summer jobs for local kids, plus at least 1000 other skilled jobs from the rest of Ontario. Many of these will be localized in the future.

  2. Hundreds of job losses for park vendors.

  3. 27 soccer fields (that’s correct 27), for 700 local kids, which are used every Wednesday, will be lost! The township covers the maintenance cost of $4,000 per year and Burl’s Creek provides the maintenance equipment free. In addition Burl’s Creek offers free parking for the nearly 500 vehicles in attendance.

  4. Almost 40 million per year in tourist spending in the local area. (Hotels, restaurants, malls and small businesses). This will disappear completely; 35 million of it in Simcoe County alone.


Make no mistake; we will lose a huge economic powerhouse in Burl’s Creek if they are forced to close by SaveOro NIMBYs. Are we just brain dead to put up with this while our country hovers on recession? 


​Please fill out the petition. Be honest and add your own personal comments. 

 

 

 

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David H McKee
The Hitch House

Is the term “SaveOro” accurate?

It is my opinion that in their endeavour to shut down Burl’s Creek, SaveOro has and continues to try as hard as possible to eliminate 250 summer jobs for local kids and well over 1000 other skilled summer jobs for Ontario. This is huge! All the while we as a country are hovering on recession. Could many of these SaveOro people perhaps be retired and no longer need work?  Or not need money to eat or feed their kids?  We don't know. Unlike us they will not release their names so we can't tell.

In addition, SaveOro is working very hard to eliminate almost 40 million per year in economic benefits for Simcoe County. They have absolutely nothing with which to replace these tourism benefits. Nothing! We have asked them and they do not answer. There are a number of young families who are very poor in Oro-Medonte, Barrie and Orillia, many with young sons and daughters. If you don't believe me ask the Barrie and Orillia food banks. SaveOro wants to eliminate most of those potential jobs. Gail Swainson, media advisor for SaveOro wrote to me and suggested if these people want real jobs they should drive to Barrie or Toronto like everybody else. Most of these kids have no cars. I have saved her incredibly eliteist letter. We must protect every single job in Simcoe County.

SaveOro is also trying to reduce the potential Oro Medonte tax base by thousands and thousands of dollars. Not to include the planned potential business growth for the future springing up around this major project of Burls Creek. That could easily end up being over one million in potential tax dollars per year removed from the future Oro-Medonte coffers. Yet these same people will gripe like crazy over tax increases above the cost of living index. Throw away taxes and pay less. How likely is that?

Once again I ask you. Is the term SaveOro accurate?

 
David H McKee
​The Hitch House

Below is an email we received from Oro-Medonte resident, Gerry Kirkby. His words resonated with us and we requested that we publish his email. Take a read!

HELP US KEEP STAN'S DREAM FOR ORO-MEDONTE ALIVE

QUESTIONS

We have been asked numerous times by many different people "why is The Hitch House doing this website thing?  How much money is Burl's Creek giving you?  Who is backing you? Are you against the Township?”

ANSWERS

We are not against the township. We are definitely for them. We think they are slowly coming to the correct conclusion on this matter which is working with Burl's Creek to create the perfect tourist venue for us all.

As of this date nobody has given us a dime, nothing. Nobody is backing us. There are a number of local companies and people who have offered to help us and for this we are grateful and we would like to thank them very much for their wonderful support and offers of assistance.

WHY

We felt it was our responsibility to expose this SaveOro thing for what it was. From local discussion we knew there were far more people in favour of Burl's Creek than against. But because of SaveOro they were intimidated.  We wanted people to have their say so we offered them a transparent public venue. Talk about groundswell. It has been incredible and it's still climbing rapidly.

It is wrong that a small elitist group of people would try to run Oro-Medonte Township only for themselves and keep good people and good business out. I am not sure but it appears to me that whoever is doing this is using hapless foolish front people, massive exaggeration, false claims, lawyers and trickery rather than show themselves publicly. These particular people want no growth in our township. In fact they would prefer fewer people. But we still live in a democracy and we love Oro-Medonte Township and this whole area. We are truly grateful to live here and we want our children, grandchildren and our friends to experience this lifestyle and this whole area of Simcoe County. And we want them to be able to work here if they wish.

To do this they need jobs. Not just a playground for the established and the rich with no local places to work. THAT IS WHY WE DID THIS. We will continue until Burl's Creek is permitted to operate without constant harassment. Burl's Creek people are good people and like the rest of us they make mistakes from time to time. But given the opportunity they will correct those mistakes and contribute exponentially to jobs and business for all of Simcoe County and Oro-Medonte.

Dave Mckee 
Chairman of the Board
The Hitch House Inc.

Tom Stoate
President
The Hitch House Inc.

Tyson Alexander
President
Motorhome Escapes Canada Inc. 

LET’S SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT