There is a lot of work ahead for the Boonstock Music and Arts Festival according to Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger following a meeting earlier this week.
“The meeting went really well between RCMP, our council and Boonstock,” said Kruger. “The outcome of the meeting was that we are drafting a checklist of things that need to be done by Boonstock and a timeline for that checklist. Boonstock will also be holding a meeting with our community members.”
In October, Boonstock organizers announced they would be relocating Western Canada’s biggest music festival from Gibbons, Alta. to locatee land within the Penticton Indian Band. The announcement was called “premature” by Kruger who said it has not received the backing of PIB council. He said there has been mixed reaction to Boonstock among community members.
“I think the announcement was a marketing plan to introduce it, but it has caused some controversy. There has to be a whole bunch of things in place before the event can be announced,” said Kruger.
The chief said the feeling he received from Boonstock is that they are confident they can complete the criteria the PIB will be giving to them which includes a safety plan, parking plans, emergency plans, and where the staging is going to be among other things.
“It is really detailed on what has to be done. Just looking at it shows there is a lot of hard work that needs to be done to create an event,” he said.
Boonstock representatives will be meeting with the PIB and RCMP, this time with the community members in attendance, on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in the community hall. The meeting is not open to the general public and is for PIB members only.
“We have to make sure our community is comfortable with this,” said Kruger. “We want the community to know what is being planned and what council is doing with safety concerns. If there is a huge concern from community members and they don’t like the idea then that will be a pretty clear message.”
Penticton Mayor Garry Litke was also caught off-guard in October by the announcement. He spoke with Boonstock organizer Colin Kobza and said he must remove a comment on the event website that said it had the support of the City of Penticton. Litke said he was unaware there was a meeting earlier this week with PIB officials and RCMP. The mayor said Supt. Kevin Hewco of the Penticton RCMP detachment previously indicated there wouldn’t even be officers available August long weekend to support Boonstock’s security plan because it is already so busy in the height of tourist season.
“Supt. Hewco said (Kobza) might even have to go all over Western Canada to get officers that might be willing to come,” said Litke. “Our other concern is getting people in and out. Looking at the YouTube video from last year’s event they had gridlock on a major highway out of Edmonton. We can’t have gridlock on the Channel Parkway, how could emergency vehicles get around? There has to be a traffic management plan.”
Kobza deferred questions to Barb Haynes, former general manager of Challenge Penticton, who he said is handing all communication channels. Haynes did not return phone calls before press deadline.