Business hope to hear cash registers ringing with Live at Squamish 

As far as business goes, September is not a particularly good month for August Jack Motor Inn in Squamish.

The students are going back to school, summer is on its last legs and fewer people are planning trips to Squamish and Whistler. Even on the Labour Day long weekend, only 10 or 12 rooms out of the 40 rooms available in the motel are booked.

This year, however, the stars speak of a change - and a boom in business. The two-day Live at Squamish festival on Saturday, Sept. 4 and Sunday, Sept. 5 is expected to bring more than 10,000 people to town and some of them, the owners of the August Jack Motor Inn believe, will find their way to the motel.

"We had bookings even during the Pemberton Festival and we are quite optimistic that the hotel will be full this time. We are excited about this festival and we think the word will get out about the hotel and our town," said Tejinder Bhullar, the owner of the motel.

Excitement is exactly what is in the air at the Eagle Vista RV Resort and Campground in Squamish. Here they are hoping to be fully booked weeks before the festival even begins. Owner Janice Kirkman said she is hoping to welcome people from the Lower Mainland who have never visited the campground and may become repeat visitors.

"I'm hoping that there will be bookings before and after the festival. For the festival, we will have extra parking space available here. I expect we will be full way before we are close to the long weekends and I'm really hoping these people will be our repeat customers," Kirkman said.

Such sentiment is common among Squamish businesses who, along with organizers of the music festival, are hoping to hear the melody of cash registers ringing. In an ideal world, there would be more weekends like this.

"It's excellent exposure for the town," said Councillor Corinne Lonsdale. "It will bring people here that haven't been here. They'll stay in our hotels and they will contribute to the economy. If only we could have this every weekend."

The Squamish festival can't escape comparisons to the 2008 Pemberton Music Festival. From the district to the organizer, everyone is hoping the only thing these festivals will have in common is a weekend of fun.

The festival at Pemberton was mired by logistical issues, from traffic to garbage disposal to lack of parking. Live at Squamish organizers say they are working hard to make sure they don't face those same problems.

Paul Runnals, one of the owners of brand.Live group, said details are being worked out with RCMP, fire and medical emergency personnel to make sure the festival goes smoothly.

Runnals said an improved highway, the proximity of Squamish to Vancouver, and a wide variety of accommodation in town means that Live at Squamish won't face some of the issues that spoiled the fun in Pemberton.

"Depending on the location of the ticket sales, we plan to have a shuttle service from Whistler or Vancouver. After the festival is over, we will return the land to the district in pristine condition," Runnals said.

Brand.Live has a contract with the district to organize this festival for the next five years.



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