Montebello rock festival still faces notes of discord
At least 37 people transported to hospital for intoxication and injuries, paramedics say
Residents and organizers of the annual Amnesia Rockfest in Montebello, Que. said this year's event was a marked improvement after last year's festival brought complaints of overcrowding and littering, but some lingering issues remained.
The weekend festival saw 200,000 people descend on the small town of Montebello, about 75 kilometres east of Gatineau — up from 160,000 people last year, organizers said.
Local resident Nicole Laflamme was a vocal critic of the festival after last year, but said she saw improvements this time around.
"They did not let the cars park where they weren't supposed to and there was free flow of the event vehicles and so that was reassuring to me and reassuring to people here," said Laflamme.
But despite the improvements, many problems from last year remained.
Paramedic calls doubled
The number of people transported to hospital to be treated for intoxication doubled compared to last year — jumping from 18 to 37, according to the Outaouais paramedic service.
The number of calls also jumped from 38 in 2013 to 68 in 2014, paramedics said.
Festival-goers also told CBC News that campgrounds, parking lots and viewing areas at the stages were overcrowded. There were also complaints that there were too few washrooms and too much litter.
Festival spokesperson Mathieu Marcotte said the 2014 edition was a huge improvement from 2013 — and an overall success.
"Sure, there's always things to improve and we're going to work on that," he said. "The real work for next year starts pretty much today so we're going to take into account every comment that we get from festival-goers, from bands, from managers."
More garbage cans next year could help cut down on litter, he said.
VIP ticket holders want refund
Claude Rivest drove from Calgary for the festival expecting the VIP treatment but said the extra cost did not live up to his expectations.
"It's been an atrocious experience for me," he said. "As a festival-goer I felt very disoriented and cheated out of a lot of the money I spent."
Rivest said he couldn't access the VIP section in front of the stage.
"The crowd was so dense we couldn't even get to the access point and when we tried we saw a guy coming back from it bloody-eyed. Another guy, bloody mouth," he said.
Other VIP customers complained the sleeping arrangements and washroom facilities were not as advertised.
Organizers said a partial refund may be possible for some of the VIP ticket holders.