Pemberton Music Festival issues still need to be worked out 

VOP council updated on logistics of 40,000 people coming to town for July concerts

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LYNN MITGES - David Buttrey, of Huka Entertainment, next to Councillor Ted Craddock (right) updates Pemberton council on some of the concerns raised after last year’s Pemberton Music Festival.
  • Photo by Lynn Mitges
  • David Buttrey, of Huka Entertainment, next to Councillor Ted Craddock (right) updates Pemberton council on some of the concerns raised after last year’s Pemberton Music Festival.

There's a long list of concerns that need to be addressed before the Pemberton Music Festival kicks off July 14. And most of those concerns fall to Huka Entertainment, the organizers of the festival.

In an update to Village of Pemberton (VOP) council Tuesday, May 17, David Buttrey of Huka itemized issues raised by residents and festival-goers from 2015 — everything from a lack of showers and area signage, to traffic snarls through Whistler and the age-old dilemma about what to do about pesky mosquitoes.

"We do our best to address any complaint that comes up to us," he said.

Buttrey said festival organizers are looking at myriad options, such as what to do about trucks backing up and unloading after 9 p.m. He said this year's solution is to have a marshalling station set up at the Rutherford area so that instead of pulling into Pemberton, trucks arriving after 9 p.m. will go to the marshalling site and can only unload after 8 a.m. the next day.

"That should dramatically reduce the noise in Pemberton," said Buttrey.

More showers are in the works, although Buttrey didn't know how many will be installed. He did say the showers would be tested and up and running before the festival begins.

Of paramount concern for local residents is that festival-goers keep to the mandated sites and not wander into off-limits properties to use local waterways as toilets, or to gain access to festival sites, especially the plateau area.

"Patrons will know if you go up that way, you don't get in that way," Buttrey told council. "There is no dedicated staff member at this point — but if it's an issue we can place a staff member there."

And access from yet-to-be-approved parking sites will be fenced off so there is no way one can get to a stream that flows nearby.

Organizers are also working to increase the number of Canadian staff, from about 136 in 2014 to upwards of 290 for this year. Local vendors will be increased, as will security, which will be bumped up to about 450 Canadian staff.

Last year's festival drew criticism for the amount of garbage left behind and how long it took to remove it. Buttrey said this year the cleanup duty would rotate through the various sites as needed.

"As each show finishes, when one stage goes cold, one crew goes in and picks up the trash," he said, adding that a recycling plan also will be in place.

Approval for two parking areas has yet to be approved by the Agricultural Land Commission, which meets June 8. Those two additional parking areas would handle thousands of cars, but if approval is not granted, Buttrey said people would just have to be shuttled in from Whistler.

He added that ticket sales are not based on getting approval on those two tracts of land.

"We won't sell anything we can't handle operationally," said Buttrey.

One complaint from last year was that there wasn't enough farming activity on the fields.

"We're planting more sunflowers and we've also planted hops on site," he said. Organizers expect a 25-per-cent yield this year and Buttrey said they've already partnered with Granville Island Brewing for a Pemberton beer.

"The goal is to use the hops grown on the festival site," he said.

Last year, the festival brought in about $45 million in direct revenue with just over $20 million in wages. This year is projected to bring in $106 million and about $24 million in wages.



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