EDITORIAL: Festival regulations needed in the province

The concerns over Boonstock were simply the result of poor planning, decisions and communications on the part of organizers.

Comparatively few of the items brought forward at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conferences gain traction, but Penticton introduced an idea at this year’s event that seems to have caught the interest of provincial ministers.

In the wake of the Boonstock Music and Arts Festival on the August long weekend, Mayor Garry Litke brought forward the concept of developing provincial regulations to oversee music festivals and other large scale events.

Let’s be clear. The problems with the Boonstock Music Festival were not because of loud music, an older population not wanting events for the younger crowd or any of the other theories bandied about on social media before, during and after the August long weekend event.

No, the concerns over Boonstock were simply the result of poor planning, decisions and communications on the part of organizers.

To mention just a few of the high points, that includes decisions like the ones that led to the loss of the festival’s original security firm and their replacement with a far less experienced one — which didn’t have the correct licence when it was contracted. That, and other planning decisions, led to the festival being denied a liquor license and the RCMP having to increase their presence during the festival in order to take on some of the security functions.

With provincial regulations in place outlining event criteria and timelines for implementation, making use of the provincial government’s regulatory jurisdiction over a range of protective services — policing, health, emergency management, liquor control and others — many of the problems seen during Boonstock and other large festivals could be sidestepped entirely.

Increasing regulations and government involvement is not something we often suggest, but in the case of the music festival industry — rapidly growing across the province and yet to regulate itself  — guidelines and a structured approval process would not only aid events like Boonstock in avoiding pitfalls, but ultimately make these events safer and more enjoyable for everyone.