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Rockfest bankruptcy leaves Weezer, Sum 41, towns, feds unpaid

The company behind Montebello Rockfest has revealed the details of who is owed money — a list that includes well-known musical acts and all three levels of government — after they declared bankruptcy in December.

Quebec festival owes more than $6M to more than 120 creditors

People walk the streets of Montebello, Que., during last year's Montebello Rockfest. The company behind the now-bankrupt festival owes more than six million dollars to more than 120 creditors. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

The company behind Montebello Rockfest has revealed the details of who is owed money — a list that includes well-known musical acts and all three levels of government — after they declared bankruptcy in December.

Outaouais Rock, which organized the annual west Quebec music festival, has just $330,000 in assets but owes creditors more than six million dollars. 

Court documents reveal over 120 creditors, including bands who played at Rockfest, businesses in North America and Europe, the federal and Quebec governments, and the town of Montebello, Que.

Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley performs at a festival in Hungary in 2016. The Canadian rock band is owed more than $170,000 by the company that founded Montebello Rockfest. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images)

Most of the debt is unsecured and may never be repaid.

According to the documents, those who are owed money include:

  • Weezer ($226,968)
  • Sum 41 ($171,579)
  • Lamb of God ($235,644)
  • Simple Plan ($59,345.90)
  • Canada Revenue Agency ($380,479)
  • The Municipality of Montebello ($7,302.24)
  • The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, or SOCAN ($173,911.31)
  • Robotron 500 Inc. ($129,120)
  • Loud is Allowed Inc. ($147.227.50)
  • Fairmont Le Château Montebello ($46,981)

Montebello Rockfest has had a checkered past: in 2018, a man died of an overdose at the festival, even though organizers had fentanyl test strips and naloxone kits on the grounds.

In 2014 a pornographic film was made during the festival without the organizers' knowledge, causing an uproar. 

The town's residents have also complained about the amount of garbage generated by the festival, with concerns that Rockfest was attracting too many fans into too small a space.

Alex Martel, the founder of Montebello Rockfest, is organizing a new, smaller festival called Montebello Rocks. Slated for June, the festival will feature 30 bands on two stages. (CBC )

That said, some local businesses have indicated they'd like the festival to return — and they may be in luck.

Rockfest founder Alex Martel has created a new smaller festival this year called Montebello Rocks. It's set to take place June 14-15.

Martel is promising a more intimate experience, with 30 bands playing on two stages. Tickets are already for sale.

In an email to Radio-Canada, Martel said he lost control over the festival and at the end had only one seat on its board of directors. 

He said he was restarting because Rockfest provided a $16-million economic benefit to the region, and believed it was important not to lose that.

No government investment 

Papineau MNA Mathieu Lacombe, however, said the Quebec government would not be investing public money in Martel's new festival.

Lacombe said he would help the festival where he can, just not with government funds.

"If I can help Alex Martel with his festival in another way, I will. Because it's an important event for the region."

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