Squamish's second-largest music festival is packing up its tunes and hitting the road.
After four years in Squamish Valley, Bass Coast is waving goodbye as it heads to Merritt. The electronic music and arts festival has outgrown its venue at the Squamish Valley Campground and RV Site, Bass Coast co-founder Andrea Graham said.
Since 2009, the number of concert goers has almost double every year, she said, noting organizers struggled to adequately accommodate camping requests for people and their vehicles. Alternative options, such as bussing people in, were examined, but Merritt offered the best solution, Graham said.
“Everything was leading to the fact that we needed a new home,” she said.
Four-thousand people are expected to attend this year's Bass Coast over the B.C. Day long weekend. Approximately 35 per cent of party-goers at last year's event were from the Sea to Sky Corridor and Lower Mainland, Graham said. Victoria and Calgary followed. Music lovers visited from as far away as Egypt, she said.
Down the road, Graham hopes to secure the festival a permanent home, she said, adding the property in Merritt is zoned for concert use. Graham aims to grow the event slowly, to keep the community feel intact.
“The beauty that we have always had with the location is very important,” she said.
Bass Coast's departure is a big loss for Squamish, Squamish Valley Campground owner Ali Abolfathi said, adding each participant would spend at least $50 in the community.
He and his wife, Homa, are hoping to fill the gap left by the festival with another event.
“I do have two or three groups that are interested to fill Bass Coast's place,” Abolfathi said.
During the past four years, not everyone in the area backed the event he noted. If Squamish residents want this type of business in town, they need to be more flexible, Abolfathi said, adding Squamish's proximity to the Lower Mainland and beautiful scenery makes it an ideal location for such festivals.
In a 2012 District of Squamish Parks and Recreation Master Plan questionnaire, most Squamish residents — 30 per cent — said they wanted to see more music and outdoor concerts in Squamish. Sports competitions were next on the wish list at 13 per cent, closely followed by family and kid-friendly events at 12 per cent.
Municipal officials were disappointed to hear Bass Coast is moving out of town, Squamish Mayor Rob Kirkham said. The community has indicated residents want these types of events and district officials aim to attract more, he said.
Municipal staff is working with Squamish Valley Music Festival organizers to find that event more space to expand, Kirkham said, noting the event has reached its capacity at the Loggers Sports Grounds.