SVMF’s estimated economic spinoff sits at $39 million

Organizations to create environmental taskforce for 2015 event

Officials estimate this year’s Squamish Valley Music Festival (SVMF) pumped more than $39 million into the province’s economy. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 14, District of Squamish staff debriefed council on the success and failings of the community’s largest event. The three-day festival is estimated to have hauled in more than double the amount of economic activity than in 2013, which equated to $18.7 million. 

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“Stakeholders were impressed with organizer’s planning,” said Devon Guest, the district’s film and event manager. 

But despite 34,712 festival-goers visiting Squamish to see rapper Eminem on the last day of the festival and approximately 105,352 people visiting the festival grounds throughout the event, downtown businesses told municipal staff they weren’t busy, Guest said, noting district staff are looking to turn that around for 2015. 

Media and social media coverage of the event, which brought mega music stars like singer Bruno Mars and indie rockers Arcade Fire to Squamish, was valued at approximately $1.9 million. SVMF was advertised, discussed or shared online an estimated 275 million times, the report stated. 

Recycling rates for the festival’s waste bumped up from 13 per cent last year, to 41 per cent this year. Local organizations gathered recyclable cans and bottles to fundraise. In total, the Squamish groups took home just under $10,000, Guest said. 

“Obviously we are seeing a marked increase [in SVMF recycling],” she noted.

The overall number of calls for emergency service during the event was significantly higher than normal — four times as many calls as an average day in Squamish. One-hundred-and-seventy-six calls related to the festival. The high volume was anticipated, staff noted. While police were kept busy, the calls didn’t tie up officers for extended periods, the report stated. 

The emergency medical unit set up at the event’s grounds treated a total of 1,923 patients. Of the patients, 1,676 dealt with minor or first aid calls and 14 people were transferred to Squamish General Hospital — four of which required x-rays. 

Moving forward, environmental watchdogs scouting the community for violations during the festival may help protect sensitive eco systems and encourage sustainability, staff stated. As such, the 2015 SVMF planning group has identified the need for an environmental task force. The team could focus on WildSafeBC’s guidelines to avoid wildlife and human conflicts. District staff also recommended that building a permanent pedestrian bridge across Highway 99 to Brennan Park Recreation Centre may increase protection of riparian areas. 

“We’re going to have more focus on the external festival site areas,” Guest said. 

This year’s jump in attendees from approximately 19,000 to 35,000 triggered increased planning, which included greater oversight from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Overall, the festival ran with few hitches, district staff stated.

Coun. Doug Race agreed. 

“I think generally speaking it turned out to be a very good experience for the community,” he said. 

Coun. Patricia Heintzman suggested district staff reach out to neighbourhoods directly impacted by the festival to add residents’ feedback and recommendations to the pool.

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