On Sunday (Feb. 2), I was a part of television history.
Iím not a huge football fan, but I couldnít resist tuning into the Super Bowl to watch Vancouverís closest American neighbour take on the Denver Broncos. The game became the most-watched television event in U.S. history, with 111.5 million viewers jumping on the bandwagon.
There was a small thread connecting the event to Squamish. It came in flashy gold, wrapped around what many women would characterize as sweet caramel. The linkís name is Peter Hernandez, but the world knows him as the smooth-singing Hawaiian Bruno Mars.
Bruno will strut his stuff, just like he did during the Super Bowl halftime show, at the Squamish Valley Music Festival on Aug. 8. The next night, Montrealís Arcade Fire takes the stage. Theyíll be followed by one of the worldís best-selling artists, rapper Eminem. Like them or not, itís a giant deal for Squamish, B.C. and Canada.
The festivalís organizers and District of Squamish officials already estimate the 35,000 festival-goers attending the three-day event will pump $55 million worth of economic spin-off into the region. But the vision of Squamish tripling in size with a population of party-goers makes most residents at least a little bit shaky. And rightly so: Itís a lot of people.
But before I grab my pitchfork and mound furniture across the Sea to Sky Highway, I want to ó in a similar strain of thought with John Lennon ó give the festival a chance. Organizers know that in many ways, this is a make-it-or-break-it year when it comes to capacity. If residents are once again stuck in Highway 99 traffic jams or festival camping gets out of hand, Squamish will be mounding that furniture as tired music fans head home.
The man at the epicentre knows this. The festivalís executive producer, Paul Runnals, has called in the big guns ó the Department of National Defence for logistics, the guy in charge of the Celebration of Light fireworks competitionís waste management, and traffic experts from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The three-day event will pack Squamish, but itís less time than most visits by your in-laws. Before bringing out the burning torches, think about what we can do to make this work.
If it means leaving for a long weekend, do it. If itís biking rather than driving, hereís your helmet. If itís pre-planning shopping outings, Iíll grab a pen.
Letís not fall into the NIMBY trap of complaining based on speculation. There will be plenty of time for that if it all goes wrong.