Boonstock cuffed for over-budget RCMP bill

Boonstock’s boss says he wants to see an itemized bill before paying the tab for policing costs associated with the music festival.

Boonstock’s boss says he wants to see an itemized bill before paying the tab for policing costs associated with the music festival.

“We are in the process of requesting a resources breakdown of the RCMP services provided to Boonstock Productions Inc., including receipts and additional details of costs incurred,” president Colin Kobza said in a press release Wednesday.

Mounties have called on the festival to reimburse the B.C. government $250,000 it claims it cost to police the August long weekend event, although the invoice sent to Boonstock by the province totalled just $176,901.10.

That $75,000 discrepancy is due to the 70-30 split of RCMP costs between the provincial and federal governments, the B.C. Justice Ministry said in a statement that it refused to attribute to anyone by name.

The $176,901 is the provincial government’s 70 per cent share of costs, the statement explained, and it will be up to the federal government to bill for the remaining 30 per cent.

“Salaries represented 76 per cent of the policing costs for the event. The remaining 24 per cent was for accommodations, transportation, meals and incidentals, and other costs,” said the statement, which noted Mounties were brought in from outside the city to work at the event.

“It’s too early to speculate on what actions may be undertaken if the invoice is not paid,” the statement continued, “but the province remains hopeful the promoters see the need to ensure B.C.’s taxpayers don’t pay the bill for their commercial enterprise.”

Kobza, who agreed to an email by interview but then never responded to questions by deadline, noted in his press release his company has a nine-year track record of paying back police following events at its former home in Alberta.

Penticton RCMP Supt. Kevin Hewco said in a separate press release Wednesday the cost to police the first ever Boonstock here spiralled upwards when Mounties identified “gaps” in private on-site security and called in additional officers to compensate. Hewco didn’t return a call for comment and his voicemail message indicates he’s on leave until Sept. 15.

“The planning of any major event plays a significant role in its success and safety,” Hewco stated in the release, which said Boonstock generated 150 police files that saw 38 people lodged in city cells.

“From our view, I cannot label this event as a success, especially considering the fact that a young woman died.”

Penticton Mayor Garry Litke said the issues raised by Hewco reflect poorly on the city.

“That was my concern from the very beginning that (Boonstock) was going to give Penticton a black eye, notwithstanding the fact that some businesses say they had a banner sales weekend,” said Litke, adding he’s worried the event will discourage families from visiting the area.

The 23-year-old Alberta woman who died at Boonstock from a suspected drug overdose was one of 90 people transferred from the site to Penticton Regional Hospital for treatment, according to figures previously released by Interior Health.

Spokespeople for Interior Health and the B.C. Ambulance Service said this week their respective agencies’ tallies of Boonstock-related expenses are still in the works. The festival was staged on privately owned land within the Penticton Indian Reserve near the city’s airport.