Roxodus Organizers Accused of Destroying Protected Forests and Wetlands

They cleared 18 hectares of woodlands without proper permits or approval, officials claim
Roxodus Organizers Accused of Destroying Protected Forests and Wetlands
The fallout surrounding the now-cancelled music festival Roxodus is going from bad to worse. Not only is the festival the focus of a police investigation — with organizers now warring over the loss of millions of dollars — but now the event is under fire for allegedly destroying protected forests and wetlands.

An investigation has been launched by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) into Roxodus festival organizers, Global News reports. According to officials from the County of Simcoe, the investigation may result in thousands of dollars in charges under the municipality's forestry conservation bylaw.

In order to host Roxodus — a four-day event that was to be held at the Edenvale Airport in Clearview Township, ON, and feature the likes of Aerosmith, Kid Rock and Nickelback — organizers allegedly cleared 18 hectares of woodlands without proper permits or approval, officials claim.

"There were environmentally protected lands that were impacted by these guys," Doug Measures, the mayor of the Township of Clearview, told Global.

In a letter to Clearview officials penned roughly a month before the festival was cancelled on July 3, County of Simcoe planner Kaitlyn Blake wrote, "A substantial area of disturbance was evident including woodland clearing and potential impact to wetlands."

While the head of Roxodus parent company MF Live Inc., Fab Loranger, bought land in 2018 east of the Edenvale Aerodrome in Clearview to host the festival, he did not get the necessary approval to clear trees or drain wetlands on the proposed festival site, according to Blake and the NVCA.

The County of Simcoe also alleged Loranger told officials the necessary approvals had been provided by Clearview staff, but according to Blake, this turned out to be false, Global reports.

"A follow-up with the township indicated that no such permissions were given," Blake wrote in the letter.

Roxodus was slated to take place from July 11 to 14, but by May, it still had not secured the appropriate permits or completed the environmental assessment reports needed to host the festival, according to the Global report.

As part of the Clearview Township approval process, Loranger commissioned an environmental impact study. But the results of this study, conducted by Barrie's Azimuth Environmental Consulting, concluded protected forest and wetlands had been impacted by the festival's attempted setup.

"Recent site activities undertaken at the Roxodus festival grounds resulted in the loss of woodland and wetland area. Additionally fish habitat was negatively impacted and is currently in a vulnerable state," the report read.

This lead to another report, this time by Innovative Planning Solutions, which recommended MF Live Inc. put up a $1.5-million "letter of credit" to ensure the cost of restoring the woodlands would be covered. That second report also recommended the township delay the approval of any permit needed for Roxodus to take place.

As of press time, Loranger has not publicly addressed this latest Global News report, while the NVCA declined to comment due to its ongoing investigation.

According to Global, if MF Live Inc. is found to have violated the rules, the company could be fined up to $100,000 — and that's for the loss of trees alone.

Despite the alleged damage, Clearview Mayor Doug Measures told Global News today that he "fully expects MF Live to meet the expectations of the agreement for taxpayers money and for the restoration of the land."

As previously reported, the Ontario Provincial Police are investigating a former employee of Roxodus, MF Live Inc., though the identity of that employee has not been revealed.

Loranger has also blamed former Roxodus partner Mike Dunphy for the loss of "millions," though the festival was initially cancelled due to what were deemed poor venue conditions because of heavy rains.

Dunphy has stated the real reason Roxodus was cancelled was because of "crappy ticket sales."

In addition to Aerosmith, Kid Rock and Nickelback, the lineup boasted the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Collective Soul, Peter Frampton, Billy Idol, Blondie, Big Wreck, Headstones, I Mother EarthMatthew Good and Theory of a Deadman.