Tools of the trade at the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Photo by Terry Farrell

Tools of the trade at the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Photo by Terry Farrell

COVID-19 forces cancellation of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Announcement regarding tickets forthcoming

The news Vancouver Island MusicFest executive producer Doug Cox was expecting came down Saturday morning.

At her April 18 COVID-19 update, B.C.’s provincial health officer announced the social restrictions in place would not be lifted in time for any large-scale events this summer.

“Realistically, we will not be having those big events where people gather together this summer,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a news conference. “This is a challenging time around our world and it’s not going to be easy for us to get out of it, but those types of large, mass-gatherings where we have lots of people together, this is not the time for that.”

RELATED: COVID-19 precautions pull summer events off the table

And with that, Cox turned to Plan B.

“For the last month or so, we’ve been preparing two plans – one for the festival to go as scheduled (July 10-12), and one in case of cancellation,” he said.

So, what is Plan B?

“Now that we have cancelled the festival, we have to deal with the fallout from all that – dealing with the ticket-buyers, all the suppliers, sponsors, cancelling all the performers,” said Cox.

As for ticket-holders, Cox said there will be an announcement forthcoming.

“We will be sending out an announcement in the next few days.”

Apart from the logistical challenge MusicFest management faces in the days and weeks ahead, Cox said the toughest thing is simply accepting the reality of the situation.

“We are devastated,” he said. “Our biggest thrill for so many of the staff that put on the festival are those set-up days, when people are at the site, watching everybody arrive, watching the team come together to build the ‘town’ of MusicFest. So many people look forward to that all year. Aside from the music and the financial impact and all of that stuff, that’s the heartbreaking part, is to know we are not going to have that celebration this year.”

Cox added that even before the government intervention, it was becoming clear in the past few weeks that this year’s event would not be possible.

“When you look at our own responsibility when it comes to the health of our patrons and our volunteers – we have a kids’ area, we have a kitchen that feeds 2,000 people a day, we have a campground of 4,000 people, we have people travelling from all over the world to get here – it’s just impossible,” he said. “It would simply be the wrong decision for us to proceed with the festival this year.”

Although Henry made the announcement at her daily briefing Saturday, there has yet to be an official directive from the government, regarding the process to be followed for such events.

While Cox expects to hear of a relief program set up through the federal government to ease the financial burden of such a cancellation, he appreciates that’s not a top priority for the government, at the moment.

“Really, this is tough, but there are no sour grapes,” he said. “I am so proud to be a Canadian, in terms of how our government has tried very hard to support everyone.”



terry.farrell@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirusmusic festivals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eva Pucci Couture in this file shot from May 29, 2019, when she came to Chilliwack asking for the public’s help in locating her missing son, Kristofer Shawn Couture. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Missing man’s mom still hopeful, 2 years after his car was found abandoned at Chilliwack trail

‘I wish someone would come forward with insight into your whereabouts,’ pleads mom of missing man

Chilliwack is expected to be among the province’s hottest real estate markets in 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Chilliwack housing market projected to be among B.C.’s hottest in 2021

B.C. Real Estate Association projects Chilliwack and District to grow by 17.1 per cent

Abbotsford tattoo artist Tanya Loewen has entered the Inked cover girl contest.
Abbotsford mother, tattoo artist enters Inked cover girl contest

Tanya Loewen, tattoo artist at Van Bree Tattoo, hoping to win big in magazine contest

Sheriff Avory Chapman was last seen Jan. 20 on Wellington Avenue in Chilliwack. (RCMP)
RCMP look for missing man last seen in downtown Chilliwack

21-year-old Sheriff Avory Chapman has been missing since Jan. 20

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read