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Texada Island's Diversity Festival faces cancellation

Powell River RCMP expresses concerns about annual event
Texada Island
Texada Island

The future of Diversity Festival, a celebration of music, dance and arts held on Texada Island at Shingle Beach, is in doubt.

According to Texada Island Policing Committee chair Leslie Goresky, Powell River RCMP appeared before the committee on December 6, 2018, to report on the festival.

“The flavour of it was the amount of resources called into need at the Diversity Festival,” said Goresky.

Over the festival weekend, the two RCMP members who regularly police the island call in additional RCMP from Powell River.

“They have concerns about the festival and if it is going to continue they need resources from elsewhere in order to address the problems that are occuring,” said Goresky.

Contents of the oral report are not available but in a news release on December 20, Powell River/Texada Island RCMP detachment commander staff sergeant Rod Wiebe said he wanted to clarify concerns about Diversity.

“Although we do have significant safety concerns about the event and its location, all stakeholders including the organizers would be engaged before any decisions would be made as to the future of the event,” stated Wiebe. “Any decisions made will be taking all factors into consideration and in consultation with stakeholders and organizers.”

Safety issues arose at last year’s event when a 23-year-old Prince Rupert woman died at the festival on July 21. According to RCMP at the time, the woman died of a possible drowning incident after she had been climbing a rocky bluff and fell into the water.

BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations regional manager of recreation, sites and trails Robert van der Zalm said the provincial authority would listen to any recommendation from the RCMP.

“However, based on the tragic incident that happened last summer, our agreement holder, the person that manages Shingle Beach recreation site, has decided to no longer host the event.” said van der Zalm. “We support that decision and we have been working to bring the site back to a more rustic standard.”

The infrastructure on the site was designed to support the festival by the agreement holder.

“We're working to decommission that,” added van der Zalm.

According to a statement from festival organizers, Diversity is not scheduled for 2019 and a decision about holding future events will not be made before a consultation and assessment process with event organizers, stakeholders and local authorities takes place.