Gaps in Boonstock Music Festival private security lead RCMP to spend $50,000 in extra policing

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Penticton RCMP are pursuing Boonstock Music Festival organizers to reimburse the police force for the $50,000 it spent in extra policing costs to secure the event.

Police say they spent a total of $250,000 in providing private security for the event, but this is far greater than the $200,000 that was originally budgeted for. The $50,000 in extra policing costs are currently covered by provincial taxpayers.

“We can only speculate what the numbers might have been had we been left to simply police the event as planned,” says Superintendent Kevin Hewco, Officer in Charge of the Penticton RCMP.

More officers were required to the patrol the festival grounds in the final two days after security deficiencies were identified on the first night, especially after the drug overdose death of 24-year-old Alberta resident Lynn Tolocka. At least 14 drug overdoses occurred within the first day alone, with two individuals sent to hospital in critical condition.

Following the first day, the RCMP’s main focus turned to providing site security and addressing public safety gaps. Altogether, police created 150 files from the event and 38 people were arrested as a result.

“The planning of any major event plays a significant role in its success and safety,” says Supt. Hewco. “From our view, I cannot label this event as a success, especially considering the fact that a young woman died.”

In the week leading up to the festival, the provincial government’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch had denied organizers of a liquor license due to concerns with their security plan.

“I believe that the security concerns that we identified would only have been compounded had the event been issued a liquor licence,” states Supt. Hewco. “Our ability to maintain order and relative safety at this event is attributable to our increased resources and the limited availability of liquor on site.”

This was Boonstock Music Festival’s first year in B.C. During its first nine years, the event was held in Gibbons, Alberta – just north of Edmonton.

 

Feature Image: @jungangela via Twitter

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