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Bergen sculpture park gets county commission's approval

Morton Burke is permitted to hold public workshops, arts and music festivals and symposiums on his Mountain View County property
MVT Concert in the Park-original
The Acousticats performed south of Sundre on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021 at the Bergen Rocks International Sculpture Park during an inaugural outdoor music show called Concert in the Park. Submitted photo

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county’s municipal planning commission has approved a development permit for an existing Bergen sculpture park.

The move came by way of motion at the commission’s recent regularly scheduled meeting, held in person and on Zoom.

The permit is for business, contractors - sculpture park with public workshops, festivals and symposium; business home based - Eye Lash Studio; and setback relaxation to existing structures. 

The 3.24 acre parcel involved is located about half a kilometres south of Twp. Rd. 322 on the west of Rge. Rd. 54, at NE 8-32-5-5.

The owner and applicant is Morton Burke, who is an artist himself. 

The sculpture park, operating as Bergen Rocks, has been on the property for a number of years and contains more than 20 sculptures of varying sizes and designs created by artists from around the world, said Peggy Grochmal, development and permitting officer.

“The proposal is to open an international monumental sculpture park that is open to the public within a park-like setting that offers symposiums from local and international artists and visitors as well as art and music festivals,” she told the commission at the July 7 meeting.

“The structure park collects donations upon entry to assist with the upkeep on the lands and to assist with the promotion off future international events.”

The applicant proposed that the park remain open year-round and that an average of up to five visitors a day is expected, she said.

“Art and music festivals would be held throughout the summer months, with up to six events per year, with up to 150 attendees per event,” she said. “The applicant has indicated that past events held on the property had 100 attendees and there was sufficient space and parking provided.

“There are no historical complaints received by the county for activities on the subject parcel.”

Applicant and owner Morton Burke told the commission that a donation box is available during symposiums, and that a music event held at the site in 2021 saw an admission fee charged.

In a briefing note to the commission, county administration said it could recommend approval of the application as the “sculpture park has been operating for a number of years without complaint” and that, “No comment was received as a result of the adjacent landowner circulation therefore the impact to the surrounding landowners is perceived as minimal and the adjacent landowner to the east is supportive of the activities proposed.”

The approval comes with a number of conditions, including the following: 

• Parking shall be contained on the subject parcel. No paring of vehicles shall be permitted on any county road at any time.

• Hours of operation for the sculpture park will be noon until 6 p.m. year-round.

• Additional events shall either require an event permit or a new development permit.

• Future expansion of the business, contractors, additional uses, work area or additional employees will require a new development permit.

• Issuance of the public workshops, festivals an symposiums portion of this development permit shall be considered incidental and subordinate to the business, contractors - sculpture park use. Should the business, contractors - sculpture park no longer be operational the public workshops, festivals, an symposiums shall not be permitted to occur on the subject property.

The municipal planning commission is the county’s approving authority, made up of county council members and appointed public members.



Dan Singleton

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