Boonstock festival promoter Colin Kobza (right) and director of operations for the festival Barb Haynes (left) speak with media last year in the days leading up to the event. Taxpayers are left with the RCMP bill and Haynes said she is also still owed money.

Taxpayers hit for Boonstock costs

The $177,000 bill for policing costs left behind by the now insolvent Boonstock Music Festival will be footed by B.C. taxpayers.

The bill for policing costs left behind by the now insolvent Boonstock Music Festival will be footed by taxpayers according to a statement from the Ministry of Justice.

The B.C. government was left to pay $177,000 of the $250,000 in policing costs, with the federal government paying the remainder.

“The province was in contact with the promoter a number of times urging payment of their invoice — including accommodating a three-year repayment schedule — but no payment was received. As Boonstock is now insolvent, the province has no further options to collect,” Perry Clark, a Ministry of Justice official, said in a statement.

“It’s super unfortunate obviously with the position Boonstock’s in. Obviously we didn’t have the festival in 2015,” said Colin Kobza, owner of the now-defunct organization.

“The biggest thing that happened here was our major revenue source not getting awarded. Financially the festival couldn’t sustain,” Kobza said. “Not too many festivals would be able to operate without a liquor license.”

Potential safety and security concerns were a major determining factor in denying the liquor license to the festival.

The approval of the Boonstock Music Festival which hosted thousands of people in the summer of 2014 was left up to the Penticton Indian Band as hosts, and the RCMP were called in to ensure the safety of the public.

A 24-year-old woman from Leduc, Alta. died from a drug overdose at the festival, and police said Boonstock generated 150 files and 38 people were incarcerated.

“In the case of Boonstock, an operation decision was made to deploy resources, then additional resources were called in to address increasing concerns,” Clark said in a statement.

The Ministry of Justice stated that despite efforts urging organizers to provide proof of signed contracts for security, emergency health services, potable water, waste management and firefighting, Boonstock organizers were unable to provide these contracts.

Boonstock hired a private security company, 24/7 Security, however two employees were caught on video shoplifting from the Last Call Liquor Mart in Penticton in August 2013.

Barb Haynes, now president of the Penticton Hospitality Association and former operations manager for the Boonstock Music Festival, said she is still awaiting payment for her work on the festival.

 

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