Organizers finally land licence for Lac La Biche fishing derby
Just one day before the Lac La Biche Powwow days is due to begin, organizers landed the licence they need to stage the long-standing fishing derby that's a key part of the festival.
For the first time in more than 50 years the derby, an event people from across the province attend, was in danger of being cancelled.
Organizers said they had got into trouble after advertising the event without having the required permits in place.
But things were smoothed over once Alberta Environment and Parks agreed to speed up a new application for the event at the last minute.
"I feel better today," said Lac La Biche Mayor Omer Moghrabi, who had been worried about the economic impact on local businesses such as restaurants.
Moghrabi said he was pleased the government worked hard to find a solution to the issue, but he worries the uncertainty surrounding the derby could still affect the turnout.
"I think we probably we'll lose a number of people who are not going to come because a lot of the public would not know," Moghrabi said.
Alberta Environment and Parks said the ministry understands the fishing derby is important to the local community.
But regional director Terry Zitnak said the organizers of the event were being investigated for other issues related to holding the event at the time they applied for a licence in June.
The Solicitor General's department said one of the issues was advertising the derby before a license was issued, which contravenes regulations.
However derby president Martin Desjarlais said the move was heavy handed.
"That's not enough reason, I don't think, to shut down something like that," he said.
"It's something that is very important to this community. A lot of people come for the fish derby and if we don't make it happen that's a lot of money for the town."