With the return of summer festival season, new guidelines and safety measures, including new liquor licensing regulations, are keeping British Columbians and visitors to B.C. safe at public events.
Events such as the Pemberton Music Festival have taken new measures to ensure public safety, including using the recently released BC Major Planned Events Guidelines which provide advice and guidance on things like alternate evacuation routes, and proper supports for emergency management, public health, policing, fire and emergency health care. This year, Pemberton organizers are also providing onsite drug counsellors to educate, answer questions and assist in treatment if required.
Additionally, many festivals - including Rock the Shores and the Vancouver’s Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival - are taking advantage of whole-site liquor licensing so people can move throughout the festival grounds with their alcoholic beverage, rather than being restricted behind beer-garden fencing. This allows families to stay together and can help to prevent binge drinking.
Government strongly encourages festival organizers to engage local police and local government - and, as appropriate, fire and health officials - early in their festival planning. The Province has a number of measures in place to protect public safety and works closely with the RCMP, security firms and organizers during the planning process for large events.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
“Our planning resources for organizers and the liquor changes we’ve made, such as bringing down beer garden fences so families can enjoy festival grounds together, are benefiting communities, attracting tourists, promoting arts and culture, and helping to grow B.C.’s economy. Keeping tourists and British Columbians safe at festivals is a priority for our government. We have learned from challenges experienced at previous events and are taking steps to achieve safer events where the focus is on a memorable and fun experience.”
Rock the Shores - Atomique Productions Ltd. director Nick Blasko -
"These changes for liquor licensing have been more successful than I think everyone ever imagined - and this was an important move for B.C. as a destination festival market. It’s really worked well. It’s cutting down the binge drinking which can create problems and helping to deter underage drinking - we’re seeing more responsibility from people with more of a family atmosphere. And while there might be a slight decline in overall sales, it’s worth it as a trade-off for more public safety. Continued public education on staying safe and being responsible is important."
Vancouver's Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival general manger Ann Phelps -
“I think changes to liquor licensing will result in more families coming to our events with the open concept. While we welcome these changes, I think it’s really it’s up to festival organizers and producers to have more duty of care over their guests. We’ll be working with whole-site licensing in Steveston in August and are grateful for any steps that help to improve public safety at this event and all festivals and events in our province.”
- According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, between June and August 2014, at least five young adults died while attending Canadian music festivals, and many more individuals were treated on site or admitted to hospital. It is suspected that use of alcohol or drugs or both might have been a contributing factor in these deaths and illnesses.
- The Ministry of Health is collaborating with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and UBC Mass Gathering Medicine Interest Group in their initiative to prevent alcohol and other drug-related harms at music festivals.
- A report on this initiative was released on June 25, 2015, titled Preventing Drug and Alcohol-related Harms at Music Festivals in Canada.
- Around 95% of all events qualify for whole-site liquor licensing at the provincial government level - based on having adequate safety measures in place.
BC Major Planned Events Guidelines: http://www.embc.gov.bc.ca/em/Community/planningtk.html
CCSA report on Preventing Drug- and Alcohol-related Harms at Music Festivals in Canada:
Apply for a special occasion liquor licence online: https://solo.bcldb.com/
BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/lclb/
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice