‘Haunting of Hexwood’ a go after organizers turn Pickering scare-fest into outdoor event

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Published October 10, 2023 at 11:39 am

Haunting of Hexwood

The scariest movie set in the country is a Halloween go after all after organizers of ‘Hexwood’ in north Pickering turned the haunted experience into an outdoor event.

The City of Pickering had originally turned down the proposal from E11venth Hour Productions to turn the William F. White movie backlot on Sideline 32 into a haunted town, citing health and safety concerns.

In August city officials expressed reservations about the event and notified the organizers that film sets – which are temporary structures – don’t comply with Ontario Building Code standards and lack essential infrastructure for the safety of visitors.

Although discussions on collaborative solutions took place, the City said E11venth Hour Productions proceeded to market and sell advance tickets without securing official approvals.

Two weeks ago Pickering put the bloody hammer down on the production. “Despite our continuous engagement, the event organizers could not develop a feasible plan that would meet the exacting requirements of the Ontario Building Code, as well as our municipal health and safety standards, and fire regulations, all of which are essential to safeguarding event attendees.”

That decision prompted organizers to apply for to an outdoor experience for the Haunting of Hexwood event instead.

“This fundamental change from their original event plan, which would have seen thousands of visitors going in and out of film sets, means that stringent building code and occupancy requirements for use of the set interior would no longer apply,” the City said in a statement.

Outdoor events still have “considerable health and safety considerations” – including fire prevention planning, emergency response plans, crowd control, security, first-aid and medical services, accessibility and electrical safety – and it took an “extensive review” of the revised plan by Pickering Fire before Hexwood was given the go ahead to make good on its promise of a “scare around every corner” for its 23-day event.

Pickering said the new assessment shows the safety measures in place will “ensure the health and well-being of all event attendees.”

“We believe that this reimagined outdoor event, and its embedded health and safety measures, will create a safe and secure Halloween experience for all visitors and participants.”

The 23-acre site was built as a movie backlot and had been busy filming feature films, television series (such as last year’s ‘Jack Reacher’ production) and commercials before the recent strikes by writers and actors in Hollywood halted production.

The writer’s strike has been settled but members of SAG-ACTRA are still on the picket lines.

The Haunting of Hexwood will have four walk-through haunts, a Town Square bar (with DJs and live entertainment), psychics and tarot readers, food trucks and a tattoo parlour.

“Be truly immersed in the not-so ordinary life of Hexwood and its cursed residents,” the organizers said on the Hexwood website. “Enter a town built as a film studio that has been transformed into an unsettling experience.”

The event is expected to run from October 13 to November 5. For more information and to buy tickets visit www.hauntingofhexwood.ca/.

With files from Suzanna Dutt

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