The organizer of western Canada's largest outdoor electronic music festival says he is doing everything possible to ensure the event goes smoothly after a spate of drug overdoses at a B.C. festival last weekend.
Close to 15,000 people are expected to descend on Fort Calgary this weekend to see artists like Tiesto, Dannic and Makj perform live. While the festival was granted a site-wide liquor licence, organizers say they will have a zero-tolerance policy for people trying to bring their own drugs and alcohol onto the grounds.
- Listen to Dave Johnston's conversation with CBC's Doug Dirks on The Homestretch by clicking the audio player below
"We do not permit any sort of contraband, whether it be alcohol or drugs, coming through our gates," said Dave Johnston, creative director for the festival. "We also have a full complement of paramedics on site, we also have Alberta Health Services on site, we'll have free water, we'll have security, we'll have zero tolerance."
Last weekend, a 24-year-old woman from Leduc, Alta., died at the Boonstock Music Festival in B.C.'s Okanagan from a suspected overdose.
Ninety festival-goers at the same event were also hospitalized for drug overdoses, while in Toronto, two people died and 13 fell ill after ingesting party drugs at the Veld Music Festival last weekend.
The incident at Boonstock prompted the B.C. Coroner's Service to issue a warning to young people not to trust their drug dealers.
"Don't trust your drug dealer. The quality control is poor," said coroner Barb McLintock. "A lot of young people believe rave drugs and ecstasy drugs are safer to use because they're not drugs of addiction like heroin and cocaine, but they forget people have idiosyncratic reactions to those drugs."
McLintock said an idiosyncratic reaction means nine people may be fine after consuming a drug but a tenth may have a potentially fatal reaction to the exact same drug because of a biochemical issue.
Johnston says anyone attending the Chasing Summer Festival should expect a full pat-down at the gate to make sure they aren't bringing anything inside that is banned.