West Kootenay traffic authorities were happy to report that this year there were no major incidents or accidents related to the Shambhala Music Festival.

Authorities grateful for ‘uneventful’ Shambhala Music Festival

West Kootenay Traffic Services was pleased to report no major crashes involving Shambhala in their area this year.

West Kootenay authorities are grateful that the 18th annual Shambhala Music Festival ended without a single major incident. The festival reported five ambulance transfers to the Trail hospital, which is half the number of last year, and there were no major vehicle accidents.

“From a policing and general duty perspective Shambhala was fairly good for us this year,” said RCMP Insp. Tom Roy. “We had no major incidents that we’re aware of, and though traffic was as busy as expected we didn’t have any real problems.”

That sentiment was echoed by the Nelson Police Department. Sgt. Dino Falcone told the Star there have been some shoplifting incidents since the festival’s completion and they routinely remind visitors they’re not allowed to sleep overnight in local parks, but for the most part it’s been quiet.

“We beefed up our beats so that we had two members on call-out for the six days — last Wednesday, Thursday Friday and this Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, just to help out.”

And that was enough to deal with any issues that arose.

When he visited the Salmo River Ranch on Sunday, Falcone said he was impressed by the infrastructure and organization.

“As a civilian looking at it, I can say it’s incredibly well organized. We have a really good relationship with the Shambhala management. They’re being proactive and doing everything they can do to make sure everyone’s safe.”

A unique vibe

Shambhala’s Britz Robins said this year’s festival had a uniquely relaxing vibe compared to previous years.

“Overall, it went amazingly. I don’t know if it was the weather, or what, but there was definitely a more relaxed, chill vibe this year.”

There were 11,000 ticket sales and approximately 15,000 people in attendance — making it roughly the same size, or slightly bigger, than last year.

She said the concerts were memorable. In particular, she was moved by a tribute set by one member of Fort Knox Five in honour of their tenth anniversary playing there.

“Everyone says the same thing every year — ‘oh my God, best year ever’ — but this year we’ve been hearing it from veterans and quite a few people who have been coming out for years.”

This was her 13th time attending.

Robins said the harm reduction and medical infrastructure has improved significantly, which she credits for the improvement in safety.

“We only had five ambulance transfers where we handed off a patient to the Trail hospital. We had seven or eight people who left in private vehicles, but in general the incidents were way down. Our medical crew did an incredible job.”

She said on top of the regular programming — which included yoga, permaculture and music production workshops — many festival-goers created their own activities and events.

“There’s one guy who does a magical mystery train tour every year, and he takes people around to all the stages. There’s also themed costume events and meet-ups, potlucks and hoop jams.”

She said they’re already looking ahead.

“We’re incredibly excited to start work on 2016 in the fall.”

Impounds and seizures

Sgt. John Ferguson of West Kootenay Traffic Services was pleased to report no major crashes involving Shambhala in their area this year.

That being said, they did impound 61 cars for travelling in excess of 40 km/h over the speed limit, the majority of which were en route to or leaving the festival.

“In our patrols we also charged three people with being impaired by drugs, one by alcohol and impounded numerous vehicles in which the drivers were prohibited or the vehicle was unsafe on the road.”

Traffic authorities made 104 seizures, finding cannabis, MDMA, ketamine, LSD, mushrooms, hash oil, cocaine, shatter, steroid and crystal meth.

Twenty three people were charged with possession and two with trafficking.

“Our members spoke to each driver and most occupants of the vehicles admitted coming from Shambhala and readily confessed to having used illegal controlled substances during the week and weekend,” he said.

“We are very happy that everyone got home safe this year.”

Post-festival concerns

Falcone said festival-goers who relied on the harm reduction teams at the festival may be once again vulnerable once removed from that environment.

He reiterated their stance that they’re not interested in prosecuting drug possession cases and are primarily concerned with the health and well-being of users.

“In light of the fentanyl scare on the coast—and we have no reason to believe it’s not here—we’re reminding people to be cautious and don’t hesitate to contact 911 if anything happens. Some of this stuff is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and they’re mixing it with other drugs.”

Rob Andrew of the BC SPCA said that though pets have been left behind at the shelter by festival-goers in the past, this year it wasn’t a problem.

RCMP praised the festival’s security teams, who worked closely with their officers.

The security team,  equipped with ATVs and metal handcuffs. Roy said once an attendee was taken into custody they were handed off to RCMP as quickly as possible.

“I’d say everything went smoothly,” said Roy.

Just Posted

Good fencing makes good neighbours— especially when your neighbours are bears

Workshop in Pass Creek this weekend to promote benefits of proper protection for livestock

Castlegar daycare selected for universal childcare pilot program

MLA Katrine Conroy presents letter of acceptance to the program to the Children’s Centre at Selkirk College

Trail police release image of liquor store robber

The video surveillance image shows the robber aiming a black gun at the store’s clerk

Columbia Avenue paving scheduled for weekend

Paving on Castlegar’s main thoroughfare will take place in a few days, weather permitting.

Kootenay region posts 10-per-cent return rate on electoral reform ballots

As of Nov. 13, only 5.3 per cent of ballots had been returned province-wide

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read