Nova Scotia

Evolve festival loses licence in Antigonish County due to lack of medical plan

The Evolve Music and Awareness Festival can't be held in the Antigonish area because its special event licence has been revoked.

Festival organizer Jonas Colter missed deadline to provide medical plan for event, county says

The Evolve Music and Awareness Festival has been held in Antigonish, N.S., since 2000. (Chris Smith/Evolve)

The Evolve Music and Awareness Festival can't be held in the Antigonish area because its special event licence has been revoked.

The Municipality of the County of Antigonish said Friday that the decision, effective immediately, was made because the organizers of the music festival didn't submit a medical plan — which was one of the stipulations of a conditional permit issued in December 2015.

The festival was scheduled for July 8 to July 10.

"We're about 10 weeks out from the proposed date with no medical plan in sight and none on the horizon," said Glenn Horne, a municipal clerk treasurer for the Municipality of the County of Antigonish.

Deadline was Feb. 1

Horne said festival producer Jonas Colter was "officially made aware of the condition for a medical plan in September 2015 and discussed this and other conditions in person with municipal officials in October and November 2015."

The medical plan, which needed to be developed and overseen by a licensed medical clinician, had to be submitted to the county by Feb. 1.

In a statement posted on the Evolve Festival Facebook page, organizers said they found out about the licence revocation at the same time as the public.

"Evolve has always been committed to safety, wellness, and harm reduction," the statement said. 

"Despite what you have read in the media, we have been diligently working on a thorough and robust medical plan to meet both the needs of the festival and the county."

Details of a new location for the festival will be released soon, according to the statement.

"Evolve 2016 will happen and we are excited about this new chapter and our evolution."

Missed extended deadline

Horne said officials knew Colter had recently been working on a medical plan with a doctor. 

"That medical plan still has not come to fruition. We were actually told by Mr. Colter that he would have something for us by yesterday," he said Friday.

Horne said the initial deadline, of Feb. 1, was proposed by Colter. That was extended when the two sides couldn't hammer out all the details in time.

"We wanted to work with him to see that this could happen, but we're still no further ahead," Horne said. 

'We don't really have a next step'

The Municipality of the County of Antigonish passed the special events bylaw in March 2015 as a way to regulate large events.

In the days after attending last year's festival, 21-year-old Dylan Champion, from P.E.I., died of natural causes after he had a seizure. Champion's family has said they didn't blame the festival.

Concerns raised by medical professionals in the days after Champion's death led festival organizers to consider changes such as having the festival run for one day less and not having performances run as long into the overnight hours.

Festivals important for local economy

Horne said the festivals are important for the local economy and Evolve was a priority. But so is public safety and health, he said.

"We don't really have a next step. The ball is more or less in Mr. Colter's court. As far as we're concerned, the permit has been revoked," Horne said. 

"We worked with him two months past February. He has been given ample time to get something together. It's his responsibility to put on a safe and healthy event. We need that to happen because otherwise our responsibility is to not permit it."

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