Benefits of cancelled summer event ‘very limited,’ for merchants, says Oakville Councillor


Published July 23, 2023 at 9:00 am

Over the years several popular bands played at Kerrfest, including Teenage Head. This year's popular festival has been cancelled. SUBMITTED PHOTO

News of Kerrfest’s cancellation doesn’t come as a surprise to Oakville Ward 2 Councillor Ray Chisholm.

Chisholm admits he’s got mixed emotions about the popular summer festival being put on hiatus.

In a recent announcement, the Kerr Village Business Improvement Association (BIA) said it had to modify this year’s event due to the current economic challenges, including inflation and rising supplier costs.

While the fourth annual Kerrfest Kids event is still on for Sept. 10, the popular festival that features live music at Westwood Park has been shelved for at least this year.

“It’s been (nearly) 10 years running and typical, it happened with the Waterfront Festival too, the novelty is very good for the first three or four years, but unfortunately you’re landlocked to the space you have and there’s not much you can do in those properties,” Chisholm said of Kerrfest, which has been running since 2014.

“The same with Westwood. It’s a very small park. They did an admiral job in securing the bands and making it happen logistically, so it’s been very exciting.

But at the end of day, Chisholm believes it was the right decision.

“Kerrfest is an event, but it really doesn’t have a lot of reciprocal advantage or benefits to the merchants on Kerr St. because they’re all up further north,” he said. “So, that’s all been a challenge in saying, ‘OK, yes it’s good for marketing and identifying Kerr St., which is great, but for the reciprocal benefits for the merchants it’s very, very limited.’

“The restaurants might do a bit.”

The costs of brining in the music bands and running such an event can be costly and Chisholm pointed out that the grant money provided by the province to get things going after COVID is not there like it was before.

“They might not get what they used to get and let’s face it, this is a high cost operation where collecting $5 at the gate doesn’t even put a dent in the budget,” he said.

The Kerr Village BIA said it is dedicated to exploring new strategies, partnerships and avenues of support to ensure the success of the outdoor music festival in the future.

“I think the board realistically looked at it and said, ‘You know what? The family day is very successful and it’s for residents in the area,’ so they’re going to do that,” said Chisholm. “They’ll revisit what they’re going to do the following years, but I’d like to see something more in line with where the merchants are.

“In Port Credit, they have a lot of events on the side streets and keep the roadway open. So there are solutions and there are creative ideas, but it all boils down to the money.”

This marks the second cancellation of a popular summer event in Oakville. Earlier this summer, the Downtown BIA cancelled the long-running Midnight Madness event.

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