When a city of 17,000 lands in a small rural community for a weekend of electronic music, it’s not a stretch to say that local policing and medical resources can become tapped.
However, other than a few troublemakers being checked into cells by Trail police, the 20th annual Shambhala festival mostly went off without a hitch.
Except, of course, for an evacuation alert.
The McCormick Creek wildfire sparked mid-week and by Saturday, was burning about 10 kilometers from the festival grounds at Salmo River Ranch.
“We did have a busy weekend with more calls than usual,” began RCMP Acting Commander Devon Reid, from the Greater Trail detachment. “Most were traffic complaints … so it’s hard to say if those calls were related to Shambhala or if it was just a busy summer weekend.”
Due to the sudden increase of population, a number of Greater Trail officers were assigned to assist Salmo RCMP with general policing, but Reid reported only two arrests.
“There are some files where people were arrested at Shambhala, brought here and held in our cells,” said Reid. “So that amounts to a few extra calls and extra resources required.”
Those incidents involved physical assaults.
“One was assaultive behaviour,” said Reid. “And the other was arrested because he was fighting everybody at Shambhala, so security asked him to be transported out of there and they brought him to our cells to sober up.”
In addition to the music festival, the Greater Trail force was called on to help evacuate the Nelway and Rosebud Lake area after the Regional District of Central Kootenay issued an evacuation order on Friday.
“After evacuation, we also patrol the evacuation zones,” Reid explained. “That’s to make sure that people’s properties are safe.”
Protecting the Nelway area residences was part of “lessons learned” from another recent wildfire.
“Back in early July when Williams Lake was evacuated, a bunch of people sneaked back into town looting houses,” Reid added. “That’s one of the reasons we put extra persons into the evacuation zones – to make sure that didn’t happen here.”
Although the police were busier Friday through Sunday, local hospitals report minimal impact related to the Shambhala Music Festival and nearby wildfire.
Between Kootenay Lake Hospital and the regional hospital in Trail, there were 14 patients who presented to the emergency departments – but none of those 14 patients were admitted to the hospital.
“There were some patients who presented with minor drug-related issues,” says Jane Cusden, Health Service Administrator for Interior Health East. “However, none were overdose-related and none were wildfire-smoke related.”
Both hospitals were staffed and ready should there have been any major events, she said.
“We worked closely with the Shambhala medical director to ensure good communications between the site medical team and the medical team at the hospitals.”