PENTICTON - Police continue to have serious concerns about a lack of security at Boonstock but are powerless to intervene.
Add Penticton RCMP to the list of organizations kept in the dark about festival plans, now only three weeks away. Staff Sgt. Kurt Lozinski, the officer in charge of RCMP involvement in the festival, says not once did Boonstock reach out to RCMP about the security cutbacks they planned to make. He found out the private security company quit the same way everyone else did—through International Crowd Management’s corporate press release Wednesday morning.
"Everything's up to chance," Lozinski said. "I have no assurances."
Boonstock point person Barb Haynes told him not to talk to ICM about security plans, he said, but that is unacceptable. The event promoter is responsible for safety, medical and security on event grounds—police have nothing to do with that—but they need to communicate with the organization responsible.
“I don’t think we’ve been properly engaged (in conversations),” Lozinski said.
An event for 8,500 people needs to be organized, he said. It’s easy to hire a company, but can they implement a security plan properly and efficiently in three weeks?
“I need to know who to call, who’s responding and what their skills are,” he said of emergency calls.
Police can say all they want about security concerns but it appears the show will go on. Boonstock officials have refused to speak to police, media, Penticton city councillors or anyone else about their backup plan now that ICM has pulled out. It remains unclear exactly who is calling the shots. Boonstock is on Penticton Indian Band land but specifically to a locatee—a band member with land rights similar to private ownership. Numerous calls to the band were not returned.
The only communication from Boonstock appeared on its Facebook page, saying it's looking for a replacement security company and the show will go on. Tickets were shipped today. The owner of an independent security company we spoke with said he seriously doubted the festival can arrange private security in the time remaining. A reputable private security company would need time to properly prepare.
“Even if the show does go on there’s some serious questions that need to be answered,” said David Hyde. “It appears the organizer is not even prepared to level with police, public, media… and say they have a plan B.”
Organizers need to pull out all the stops if they are going to pull off this event, he said.
Organizers said they’re “in talks” with another company but nothing is set in stone. There’s a chance the event could go on without security.
That leaves RCMP to worry about what happens not just on Boonstock grounds, but when the roughly 3,000 or so attendees not staying on the campsite wander into the city centre at 2 a.m. when the last show ends.
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