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Brewhalla beer festival can use Port Moody’s Pioneer Park for a one-year trial

Last year's inaugural event was moved to Inlet Park after the community raised concerns about the appropriateness of holding it in Pioneer Memorial Park
Organizers of the Brewhalla beer and music festival will have a one-year trial to host its one-day event at Pioneer Memorial Park in Port Moody.

Organizers of the Brewhalla beer and music festival will be invited to stage their event at Port Moody’s Pioneer Memorial Park this summer.

But whether they’ll be able to continue using that location across from the recreation complex will depend on how well the event respects the park’s greenery and contemplative gardens, which are often visited by families with loved ones at the nearby Crossroads Hospice.

Tuesday, Port Moody council voted to allow city staff to work with Langley-based Red Door Events on a one-year trial for its one-day festival in exchange for a rental fee of $1 for each ticket sold.

Red Door’s first Brewhalla event in Port Moody last year was also originally scheduled to take place at Pioneer Memorial Park; however, concerns by the community about the appropriateness of the venue and the impact a thousand or so patrons might have on the gardens and green spaces in the park caused the city to move the event to Inlet Park.

But with construction of a new turf sports field underway there, that site is no longer available, said Port Moody’s cultural services manager Devin Jain.

In fact, the city’s options to host larger outdoor festivals are very limited, he added in a report.

Jain said Rocky Point Park is already busy with free community events, and ticketed events would mean excluding non-ticket holders from a pubic space.

Other possible outdoor sites, like the old fire hall site at the corner of Ioco Road and Murray Street, or Ioco Field at the end of Ioco Road, also present challenges, Jain said.

In his report, Jain said city staff investigated several outdoor and indoor locations around the city as possible event venues, but none was ideal.

Couns. Callan Morrison and Diana Dilworth suggested Chip Kerr Park on Hope Street might be a consideration.

Morrison said it’s a wide open space that’s also close to transit, and the adjacent Chines hillside can provide shade in the summertime.

“I do want to try to activate other areas of the city,” he said.

But Port Moody’s general manager of community services, Anna Mathewson, told council the park’s location in the middle of a residential neighbourhood would pose parking problems; it also lacks services like running water and electrical hookups.

Jain said as the city continues to grow, pressure is mounting to find places to accommodate events that want to set up in Port Moody.

He said allowing Brewhalla to occur at Pioneer Memorial Park will give staff and organizers an opportunity to gauge its opportunities and limitations to host other events in the future. Red Door will also be able to use part of Knowle Street.

Mayor Meghan Lahti said the park is the best available option — for now.

“This is the lesser of all evils,” she said. “I’d like to see us try it and see how it goes.”

Coun. Kyla Knowles added a beer festival and Port Moody, where six craft breweries are located just blocks apart in its downtown, are a good fit.

“I think it’s right on brand,” she said. “I really want to keep this festival in Port Moody.”

SOUND OFF: Is Pioneer Memorial Park an appropriate venue for a beer festival or any kind of event? Where do you think would be a good place for the city to host events and festivals? Send us a Letter to the Editor. Please be sure to include your full name and city of residence.