CORNWALL, Ontario – CoTiCon (Cornwall’s Tiny Convention) has found its Kryptonite.
Founder Annie DeRochie, 18, received an email from the City of Cornwall with a friendly reminder that council adopted a new bylaw in December 2015 requiring event organizers to obtain a license if there are vendors present.
The fees: $500 for 24 exhibitors or less and $800 for 25 or more.
“The City (Of Cornwall) has just squished the entrepreneurial spirit of a youth!” said DeRochie in an email response to the city’s building & bylaw department. “I planned this event last September, posted it on my website, worked on the convention over the past six months only to have the City add unexpected fees in December, thus expecting me to absorb these fees.”
In 2014, the avid cosplayer took on the heroic task of creating CoTiCon as part of the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre (CBEC) Summer Company youth entrepreneurial program.
Tickets were originally $25, but several guests of the inaugural edition felt the price tag was too high for such a modest convention, prompting organizers to lower admission to $20 at the door or $15 for a pre-purchased ticket.
In 2015, CoTiCon doubled its previous attendance, drawing over 300 young people dressed in wildly colourful, outlandish costumes to the Cornwall Civic Complex salons. The convention featured over 40 exhibitors, contests, meet and greets, and card game tournaments (Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon) going on at any given moment.
DeRochie, who is presently attending her first year in fashion design at Fanshawe College, wants to keep the event at the downtown venue despite its $740 daily rental fee.
The Summerstown resident asked the city’s building & bylaw department in her email correspondance to amend the ruling so the amount of the special events’ license fee is based on a percentage instead of a fixed price, to no avail.
“This greatly affects smaller events like CoTiCon since it is a very sudden cost, and we’re on a tight budget,” said DeRochie.
In addition, several exhibitors such as the Dr. Who Society and Capital City Garrison, the eastern Ontario chapter of the 501st Legion, raise funds for national and local charities – and do not pay for their spots. Last year, the stormtroopers donated $400 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cornwall & District.
“I would love to continue to offer it to the youth of our community,” said DeRochie. “It’s the people I’ve met, the experiences, how excited other nerds in the area have been getting, and how much fun people at CoTiCon always look like they are having.”
Organizers are offering sponsorship packages, and as for donations, a crowdfunding site is in the works.
Representatives from the City of Cornwall’s building & bylaw department were not available at press time.
For more information, visit www.coticon.com.