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Harley group looks to Essa as host site for annual rally, next summer

Posted July 4, 2018

The Harley Owners Group (HOG) Huronia Chapter has requested permission from Essa Township to host the 28th Ontario Regional Rally July 18-20, 2019 at the Essa and District Agricultural Society fairgrounds in Ivy.

It would be the second time the event has been held in the region, the first at Georgian College in Barrie, in 2009.

In a letter to the Township, Wendy Clark, Director of the Huronia chapter, said they were awarded the event for next summer, and along with its sponsorship dealership, Barrie Harley-Davidson, have determined the Essa fairgrounds "is a great location" because it is central for the region. Ms. Clark estimates between 600-800 participants from across the province, U.S., and internationally.

"One of the events that will take place is a parade that will showcase the various HOG Chapters with their flags," she wrote. " The parade would be about one hour long and details are being worked out to what the start and end location will be along with the acknowledgement/assistance of local law enforcement offices."

Colleen Healey, Essa's Manager of Planning, in her report to council on tonight's agenda, advises the rally would not be permitted with the zoning of the property. A 2011 OMB hearing set a site specific zoning which allows for agricultural related shows/fairs, farmer's market, and short term historical re-enactments.

Ms. Healey suggests temporary zoning shouldn't be employed because the Township has received similar requests for outdoor weddings and events, but turned them down.

"The use would appear to conflict with Essa's aim and interest for the area - an agricultural area in amongst prime agricultural lands. To-date, the Township has ranked its agricultural community with great importance. The Township's OP aims to maintain support for the agricultural community. Even an event on a temporary basis would conflict."

"In fact, the last convention/rally was held at Georgian College in Barrie, which this office would suggest is a more appropriate location given that the College is within a settlement area and is well equipped to handle large numbers and events."

Ms. Healey's recommendation to council is to "take no further action at this time."

"There may be a cost to providing services to address issues if the event is allowed. Other municipalities which have permitted large events should maybe be consulted, to learn of issues and potential costs (ie Wasaga Beach or Oro-Medonte)."

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri