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Despite questions, Boonstock plows ahead

Boonstock organizers are set to announce the lineup for this year’s event, although there are several outstanding issues that have yet to be addressed.  - Photo courtesy of Boonstock.ca
Boonstock organizers are set to announce the lineup for this year’s event, although there are several outstanding issues that have yet to be addressed.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Boonstock.ca

Boonstock is set to announce their summer concert lineup in Penticton, despite questions still left unanswered.

Organizers for the outdoor concert, slated Aug. 1 to 3 on private land owned by members of the Penticton Indian Band, said they have created a “living document” with band council, to create the steps necessary for them to hold a successful concert.

“It is pretty well done, but it is a living document and there are things that will be added to it when we come across them,” said PIB councillor Travis Kruger, who has to recuse himself from voting at meetings on the topic because his family has interests in the event.

“We are working towards August and we are making sure all the community’s concerns are taken care of. We are definitely being respectful of the land and people. It is all part of the plan for the festival.”

In December, PIB council and Boonstock organizers met with the PIB residents to hear their concerns and that continued through social media and email. Kruger said change is always met with a pushback and they were prepared for that.

“This is not a bunch of sleazy promoters coming in to run a concert and turn around and leave. They are moving their families here and will be here for the next five years and they want to make sure they give back to the community. This is a professional company coming to put this on that has been doing this for nine years, not some fly-by-night promoter,” said Kruger.

Penticton RCMP Supt. Kevin Hewco said meetings are set up with Boonstock and other stakeholders in April, but currently from the RCMP’s perspective, he said “there are more questions than answers right now.”

Even with Kelowna’s Centre of Gravity event changing dates from August long weekend to July 25 to 27, Penticton’s top cop believes there won’t be enough police resources locally. Hewco said police have been left in the dark on many items of concern and he does not even know how many Mounties would be needed because they haven’t been presented with a safety plan.

“Very limited information,” said Hewco. “We are getting a bit concerned because the clock is ticking and for us to make those kind of significant plans we need time.”

Boonstock would be on the hook for well over $100,000 in policing costs, estimates Hewco. Organizers would have to pay for transportation, hotels, meals and wages for Mounties.

“I can tell you with quite a bit of confidence that if this proceeds, all the resources will be coming from outside the Okanagan Valley. It is the long weekend, in the summer and any available resources over that time will be engaged elsewhere,” said Hewco. “We will have to look for volunteers with their time off and they will have to get paid overtime. We would put out a call probably from the Lower Mainland or maybe Alberta if we can get them, but it is summertime and busy everywhere.”

Kruger also couldn’t answer some of these questions when asked by the Western News, as the plan is still a “work in progress.” Kruger said the concert promoters want to be respectful of the community, but they have not yet determined what time the concert will end each night.

A plan for the event will have to be presented to the Ministry of Transportation as well. Kruger noted that Barefoot Beach Resort hosted mixed martial arts fights last summer where they had to make a highway plan and everything went smoothly. A spokesperson with liquor control branch of the Ministry of Justice said they are aware of the event and the local liquor inspector has met with the event organizers as part of their pre-planning but they have not received a special occasion licence application for Boonstock.

Kruger said getting the safety plan and starting to set things in place is contingent on getting approval to meet with the locatee families and council so they can continue to work on the process.

“There are things that can’t happen until we do that. It needs to be signed off with the locatees and the band. As long as it’s a go, the RCMP are saying they can start looking at resourcing people. The fact a competing festival has moved their weekend it can free up some resources, which is a big thing,” said Kruger. “We are well on our way.”

Kruger sees this as an opportunity for the PIB council to build a permitting process that could be used for future events. He said the process includes ensuring all PIB residents are heard from. When concerts were held at Holiday Hills a decade or so ago there wasn’t a permit process in place, said Kruger. With Boonstock, he said council and the event organizers want to ensure things are done right.

Despite some of the backlash that came from local municipal governments and scrutiny from residents from the PIB and neighbouring Penticton when Boonstock announced their relocation to the Penticton area, Kruger firmly believes that will change once the event is successful.

“We are going to fill the hotels and restaurants in the City of Penticton and they haven’t been the kindest, I guess you can say. But, we can’t apologize for filling their pockets with money and I am sure once it is a success they will be more than happy to be in the picture with us,” said Kruger.

Colin Kobza, who is the owner of the promotion company Boonstock, said he was not available to speak to the media until later this week about Wednesday’s artist announcement or otherwise.

Visit www.pentictonwesternnews.com or www.Facebook.com/pentictonnews to get breaking news about the concert lineup on Wednesday starting at 8 a.m.

 

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