They came, they sang and now it's back to the drawing board.
On Tuesday (Oct. 8), municipal staff gave District of Squamish's Committee of the Whole a rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly that accompanied this year's Squamish Valley Music Festival (SVMF). Meetings are taking place and planning is forging ahead for next year's three-day event, which is slated to double in size.
This year's festival prompted more than 200 residents to send comments to city hall. Of those, 160 related to garbage and recycling and 90 pertained to traffic delays, said Devon Guest, the district's film and event manager.
“We will definitely report back to council with a traffic and waste management plan,” she said.
Discussions are underway, said Paul Runnals, brand.LIVE executive producer of SVMF. This year the district was hired by promoters to clean up the festival's camping area, as well as local waste companies and a team of 250 volunteers. Usable material left behind by festival-goers was donated to Lower Mainland shelters, while recyclable bottles were collected by a local soccer association, earning teams $8,000, Runnals noted.
The event was hit with a influx of campers right from the get-go, leaving the festival's organizers playing catch-up, Runnals said. Next year, organizers will be prepared to deal with such a rush, allowing them to properly set up waste management practices, Runnals said.
Vancouver Coastal Health will focus on further collaboration with festival backers so the event “doesn't put unnecessary strain on the local hospital,” Guest added. While bands played, 392 patients were treated at the festival. Eight were transferred to Squamish General Hospital, with five having arrived at its peak. That taxed the hospital's resources, the municipal report stated.
Festival organizers will work closely with the health authority to improve the festival's medical facilities, Runnals said, noting they'll be expanded. He was surprised to hear the hospital was overwhelmed by the handful of patients, two of which suffered reactions to bee stings. He said organizers aim to ensure all stakeholders are fully prepared for the event.
Before Squamish puts on the party hat, Coun. Ron Sander said he'd like to see a set of guiding principles to outline what the community finds acceptable, something he anticipates he'll see in the staff report.
Coun. Bryan Raiser said he looks forward to seeing staff's plans to resolve challenges faced at this year's festival. The event is positive for the community, he noted. A report based on the Conference Board of Canada's Festival and Events Assessment Model estimated the festival poured $9.9 million into the local economy and generated 178 million hits in media and advertising.
“I've been stuck in highway traffic so many times for Whistler events that frankly, it was nice to be stuck in traffic for a Squamish event,” he said.
Festival concerns will be addressed and brought to council, Guest said.