I am supportive of festivals and they can be good for our town, however I remain opposed to Boonstock.
Alberta’s Sturgeon County council and residents tolerated Boonstock for nine years before permanently shutting it down. During the last year’s festival, RCMP responded to 11 overdoses, 11 assaults with a weapon, three impaired-driving, two sexual assaults and two hit-and-run’s. There were 45 drug seizures, 56 arrests and 2,000 verbal warnings. But it was a home invasion when Counsellor Shaw said, they’ve had enough. Then they called it Ban-stock.
Coun. McGillis noted that Boonstock cost the county a net $33,000. I don’t see it as being a big economic development opportunity for Sturgeon County? It’s a threat to neighbours.
For Penticton last year, the police cost for Boonstock was $179,000, there were 38 arrests, 90 people taken to emergency for drug overdose, ambulance rides at $530 each, totaling $48,000. The cost for 90 emergency visits at $750 for a minimum cost is a cost of $68,000.00, in short the cost was $300,000 at a minimum. And we have not yet discussed that a young woman died at this concert. If we had an operation in Afghanistan where 90 young men and women were seriously injured and one died, would we call that a successful operation and want to see it happen again? If military intelligence is to intelligence what military music is to music, even the military would be hesitant.
Can we not generate the revenue in another venue? How many drug overdoses did we have for the Family Challenge? How many arrests did we have for Jazz Fest? TED talks could bring as many as Boonstock.
I feel that a festival is a great opportunity if held in Penticton, not on a remote site. There is a safety issue for young people and a credibility gap if we do not confront this ourselves.
I am suggesting that we hold our own festival, and call it Penstock. We can use the contacts of SOEC to solicit performers. We have the land such as our parks to the areas on Campbell Mountain and Three Blind Mice. We will have the beer gardens, food, local accommodation and a large police presence who are asked to do as little as possible.
We can conduct this in a profitable manor while supplying the safety and the fun that is needed for such events and our town.