Pemberton wants festival back 

Festival ‘lost a lot of money,’ but organizer won’t say how much

click to enlarge It's A Hit Pembertonians gave the inaugural Pemberton Festival a high five. Photo by Andrew Mitchell
  • It's A Hit Pembertonians gave the inaugural Pemberton Festival a high five. Photo by Andrew Mitchell

The verdict is in: Pemberton wants its music festival back, but not without consulting all necessary stakeholders.

The community got its answer at a standing-room only public meeting at the Pemberton Community Centre on Sept. 11. Hundreds of Pembertonians gathered to provide feedback as festival director Shane Bourbonnais and Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy took questions and comments.

“I think it’s safe to say it’s one of the biggest events, or the biggest single event, short of floods, that’s ever taken place here in Pemberton,” Sturdy said of the July 25-27 music festival that brought 40,000 people to the valley.

Bourbonnais, standing with Sturdy in front of the audience, acknowledged that there were several problems encountered during the festival — and finances weren’t the least of them.

“We lost a lot of money,” he said. “We expected to lose money and we lost a lot of money.

“We lost money because we didn’t have enough time to produce the event. And when you get into problems producing an event, how do you fix a problem? You throw money at it.”

When approached after the meeting, Bourbonnais would not say how much money festival organizers Live Nation lost.

Responses to the festival ranged anywhere from outright praise to reservations that not all parties were adequately consulted. Ruth Dick, a councillor with the Mount Currie band of the Lil’wat Nation, told the meeting, on her own behalf, that the presence of drugs and alcohol at the festival should be addressed in discussions about a future event.

“I’m hearing stories about people draining their water bottles and filling them with vodka right in the middle of town to bring to their campsites,” she said. “We’ve banned… concerts in our community because of that specific issue and it causes a real problem for our young people to go out and get deeper into the drugs or alcohol.

“I’d like to know what’s being done regarding all the drugs and alcohol.”

Bourbonnais responded immediately, saying that the presence of drugs and alcohol ultimately comes down to security.

“The security didn’t do their job, it was a free for all,” he said. “We’ve had conversations with Mount Currie and it’s been positive so far.”

Dick then interjected as Bourbonnais spoke, saying that he had only spoken with Daniel Sailland, the administrator of the Mount Currie band.

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