It is still uncertain whether the Boonstock Music and Arts Festival will be back in 2015, but owner Colin Kobza said a public announcement is coming soon.
“Boonstock management is continuously reviewing its plans for 2015 and beyond. We have been in discussions with government and regulatory authorities, local suppliers over the past few months to resolve past issues and plan for the future in Penticton,” said Kobza. “We hope to make a public announcement regarding Boonstock 2015 in the next 4-6 weeks.”
If Kobza chooses to move ahead with Boonstock 2015, he’ll be doing it under the new The BC Major Planned Events Guidelines introduced last fall. While they aren’t regulations, the guidelines are intended to help organizers and host communities plan for large events like Boonstock.
Boonstock enjoyed a generally positive reception locally, though there were problems, including poor security, dust, dehydration and an overdose death.
Insufficient and late planning were a common theme to documents released under a Western News freedom of information request. They indicate B.C. Emergency Health Services had serious concerns about Boonstock’s emergency planning before, during and after the event.
BCEHS was contracted to provide paramedics and ambulance service to supplement Boonstock’s medical volunteers, but daily briefing notes show they had problems interfacing with both Boonstock’s security and medical volunteers from the first day.
“Although maps were provided to us, the security crews were using different names for stages, causing confusion as to location of patients,” reads one comment.
Notes from a July 31 teleconference include a comment that the Boonstock security appeared to be overwhelmed and RCMP were strained trying to assist.
The same report said drugs were also readily available on the Boonstock site, citing very loose screening for liquor and drugs and that online drug ordering and delivery appeared to be occurring. Meth, coke, MDMA (Ecstasy), and marijauna were listed as the most common drugs seen.
Besides drugs, dehydration was a major problem. EHS crews had their own water supply, but ambulance crews were concerned about the availability of water for patrons.
Crews were also concerned about the medical tent operations not being optimal, noting that it was setup at “the 11th hour” two weeks before the festival. According to one report, the tent was grossly understocked with supplies, and EHS had lent them a defibrillator, oxygen and airways.
Just after Boonstock, in an August 4 email, Rod Salem, director of emergency management special operations for EHS, suggested events at both Boonstock and the Pemberton Music Festival could spur the provincial government into providing legislation.