Bush party worries residents

Upper Carmi residents on the east edge of Penticton are anxious and hoping this year’s grade 12 students decide against throwing an annual massive bush party this evening.

Every year, students entering grade 12 celebrate their first day of their final year of high school by throwing a 'Sunrise Party' in the woods, which includes a large bonfire.

"We have notified the RCMP, the fire department, forestry and RDOS about this event because we are trying to prevent a fire from starting and devastating the community," a concerned resident told Castanet on Tuesday.

The party usually takes place on Beaver Dell Rd. accompanied by fire, liquor, cigarettes and often drugs. This year, with extreme fire hazard in the region, locals are feeling understandably stressed

Every year, principals send out emails to parents encouraging them to not let their children attend the party, while explaining that it's not a school sanctioned event, according to Wendy Hyer, Superintendent for School District 67.

"It's not just graduates who attend, it’s older individuals who are looking to take advantage of young people who are looking to party," she said. "A couple years ago there was a fight up there and a student wound up being killed."

"Students drink and drive what’s a windy road essentially. We make sure parents know that it's not a school sanctioned event and we encouraged them not to let them go.

"At the end of the day, what kids do on a weekend or in the evening is a difficult thing for us to monitor," she added.

There has been talk of the party among students, according to Penticton Deputy Fire Chief Chris Forster.

"I've been informed that they are supposedly trying to put one together, it's been all over Facebook," he said.  "I actually got a call from the Upper Carmi Association.”

"I have taken all the information and passed it on to the RCMP, “ he added.

The celebration takes place outside Penticton fire coverage, noted Forster, in an area that has not seen rain in over two months.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issued a media release about the possible party Tuesday afternoon, reminding students of steep fines for anyone found around a bonfire.

  • Anyone found dropping a cigarette could be fined $575.
  • Anyone found in contravention of a fire prohibition may be fined up to $1,150.
  • If your fire escapes and results in a wildfire, you may be fined up to $1 million and be sentenced to one year in prison.

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