British Columbia

Kelowna's Wakefest becomes drunkfest

The annual Wakefest summer festival turned into a drunkfest over the weekend and that has police worried about a repeat of the Kelowna Regatta riot.

142 people arrested as jails overflow

The annual Wakefest summer festival turned into a drunkfest over the weekend and that has police worried about a repeat of the Kelowna Regatta riot.

Police say they are alarmed by the "massive amount" of drunkenness and fighting both at the Wakefest site and in the downtown of the lakeside city located in the southern interior of British Columbia.

Organizers of the weekend event met with RCMP on Monday to begin a debriefing and try to figure out what might be changed next year to assure peace.

There was drinking on the streets, drinking in moving vehicles, fights and chants of "riot, riot."

One downtown hotel evicted three separate parties who had booked rooms, including one couple for having sex on their balcony.

Asked if RCMP think Wakefest just isn't worth the trouble, Staff Sgt. Phil Boissonneault replied "Yes."

"We're seeing an evolution here," he said. "All the negative elements are coming to Kelowna."

"The evolution is exactly what happened with the Regatta riot. We'll be discussing our concerns with mayor and council."

The decades-old Kelowna Regatta was cancelled in 1988 after a riot at the festival in 1986 and young people running rampant downtown the following year.

From 11 a.m. Friday until 1 p.m. on Sunday, police made 142 arrests, more than twice as many as last year.

At one point, there were 85 people in cells. The detachment has only 22 cells, so police used the jail in the courthouse and a sheriff's van to hold the drunks until they sobered up.

Police issued 200 liquor-related tickets, which carry fines starting at $100.

Wakefest drew 30,000 people for the three-day event, a record. Organizers increased the policing budget to $50,000 from $20,000 last year.

While Wakefest has its own security people, they needed to call on RCMP to make arrests.

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