Penticton Indian Band member Pierre Kruger stated earlier today (Wednesday) the liquor license for Boonstock was denied because of one person.
Castanet received the following letter from LCLB General Manager Douglas Scott in response to the comments that one person was solely responsible for the Boonstock liquor license being opposed:
It is important to understand that in the case of a Special Occasion Licence application, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) has an obligation to the people of British Columbia to ensure that the liquor is served in a responsible manner and in a place where it can be safely consumed. This obligation to protect public safety is a significant responsibility. We work hard to help each festival in B.C. – major or minor – have a successful liquor application and a safe event, and approve over 20,000 applications per year with this in mind.
I can confidently say that approving a liquor licence would not have improved the level of public safety at Boonstock as has been suggested. In fact, the opposite is true.
The decision to deny this liquor application was not made by any one person or based on any single recommendation. During this type of liquor application review, we have LCLB and local RCMP public safety experts assess the plan proposed by organizers. In Boonstock’s case, only days before the event was set to open, we had a number of outstanding concerns including unclear evacuation routes and a lack of proof of signed contracts for security, emergency first responders, drinkable water, waste and tents.
To properly protect the public we cannot “hope” these critical services will be in place for a festival with over 8,000 in attendance. We must ensure they will be in place. That is why we require copies of signed contracts in advance of any event of this nature.
Adding on-site alcohol to a situation where we do not have assurances that there will be sufficient resources to manage safety issues (including evacuation) could have very dangerous consequences. Therefore, to fulfil our obligations and keep the public safe to the best of our ability, the LCLB could not sanction liquor to be legally sold or consumed on Boonstock festival grounds under these circumstances.
As well, it was critical that we made the final decision when we did in order to give festival goers as much notice as possible that liquor would not sold or served at the event.
We have been in touch with the RCMP and I am confident they have put in place the appropriate measures to protect public safety at Boonstock despite the fact that, at the time of writing this letter, they still do not have an agreement in place with organizers to cover the policing costs at the festival, as is normally required. Such an agreement provides assurances for B.C. taxpayers that they aren’t paying for the costs of policing at the event.
To be clear, a rejection of a liquor application or the absence of a supplemental policing agreement does not mean that the festival organizers are absolved of the responsibility to ensure an appropriate level of security at their event.
Most of all, our concern is for festival goers. We want them to have a safe and fun weekend. The Ministry of Justice will continue its work to help ensure things go as smoothly as possible, and liquor inspectors will be in Penticton to support police.
At the end of the day, I am confident that removing a liquor licence from the equation will give Boonstock a much better chance to provide for the safety of its festival goers. It is my sincere wish that this festival provides a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone who attends.
General Manager, BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch