EDITORIAL: Rethink festivals and fire response

EDITORIAL: Rethink festivals and fire response

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In light of the recent death of an attendee of the Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna, should town officials rethink hosting similar events? (Facebook.com/centerofgravity)

By Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

We hate to be a party pooper, but Center of Gravity should seriously rethink its operations in Kelowna.

Just like Boonstock did in Penticton a year after a young woman died of a drug overdose in 2014.

It was only a matter of time before a young person met her fate at Center of Gravity recently.

It’s still unconfirmed how the teenager died, but following the death, Interior Health tweeted that “mixing drugs or using drugs while drinking puts you at increased risk of overdose.”

If you’ve seen videos of one of these music festivals, it’s quite apparent the event is one big booze and drug party, where many scantily-clad girls walk around, leaving their inhibitions at the door.

Boonstock organizers made the right choice not returning to Penticton, a city that may have subsequently banned the event anyway like other cities have.

These loud, free-for-all events may be well intentioned as entertainment, but when you mix the heat with alcohol and drugs, the risk factor for youth is too high. Someone is bound to drink too much or ingest the wrong thing resulting in a medical emergency or worse.

Yes, there are rules such as no outside alcohol or drugs (patrons are subject to search), but as we all know, a lot of young people will do their best to break the rules and someone ends up paying the price.

Best not to host these hazardous events to avoid the tragedies that can follow.

Fire response

We have all the respect in the world for the BC Wildfire Service, but sometimes their management decisions don’t make any sense.

We are referring to the Snowy Mountain fire, which was basically left to burn without suppression action when it was first reported.

Although it was in steep terrain and difficult to access, they could have initially deployed air tanker or helicopter support. Instead, the fire was simply monitored and allowed to grow until it turned into a raging monster, resulting in evacuation alerts and orders. The fire made its way down the mountain and jumped the Similkameen River threatening some Cawston properties.

The BC Wildfire Service made a similar decision a few years back to let a fire burn on Okanagan Mountain, where no initial attack was coordinated. Only when it turned into a real threat did the fire service throw everything at it. By then it was too late.

Fires that have the potential to burn out of control should be hit hard and fast when the first report comes in. It’s time to draft a new fire suppression policy.

Kudos to BC Wildfire for its work on Oliver Mountain last weekend.

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