The Shambhala Music Festival, a staple of the local cultural scene, will now be held a few weeks earlier each year. Photo courtesy Jake Sherman/Shambhala Music Festival

Shambhala organizers move festival date due to wildfire risk in Kootenays

The decision was made following talks with the provincial and regional governments

For the first time, the Shambhala Music Festival will be held in July next year. The electronic music festival, which draws thousands of people each year, said in a news release this week that the move is based on the advice of the province and the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

Festival founder Jimmy Bundschuh said they decided to move their dates forward by two weeks given that 2018 marked the worst fire season on record for British Columbia and scientists say climate change means the province’s wildfire season is becoming longer and more explosive.

He said the move will ensure the music festival can deliver the best possible experience for its guests and help the organization plan for the future.

“We stand at the precipice of a new era. That’s not lost on anyone in the Kootenays here in British Columbia. We know the planet is in a period of rapid transition and our date change is just one more reflection of our commitment to our guests and the music community as a whole,” Bundschuh said in a prepared statement. “Our guests’ safety and security is our No. 1 priority.”

The decision comes on the back of an ongoing conversation between the independent music production company, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, and the provincial government.

In 2017, Shambhala was placed on evacuation alert due to a wildfire that came within nine kilometers of the festival grounds. Organizers cancelled the final day line-up and many people left early. However, the festival resumed after significant rainfall and cooler temperatures.

According to the province of BC, who shared statistical information with Shambhala, there is a significantly lower risk of wildfire in July in the Kootenays compared with August, particularly over the last decade.

The Southeast Fire Centre, which monitors and responds to forest fires near Salmo, the site of the annual music festival, says on average over the last 10 years there have been 11 days of high and four days of extreme fire risk every July in the area between the US border and Mica Creek. That’s compared to an average of 16 days of high risk and six of extreme in the same area every year in August.

The numbers published by the province suggest the risk of extreme fire hazard is far lower in July than August, Bundschuh said.

“It’s been an ongoing conversation we’ve had with the regional district and with the province,” said Bundschuh. “We are so grateful for the important work they do and have taken their professional advice to heart.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eighteen unattended cannabis plants discovered near Saanich trail

Plants cannot legally be grown in public spaces

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

One man in hospital with severe injuries after small fire in Victoria apartment building

Man was found by firefighters responding to multiple 911 calls about smoke on third floor

Area residents concerned about aftermath of McKenzie interchange construction

Ministry says neighbours’ concerns being heard, will be addressed

UPDATE: Two dead after fishing boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Andrew Scheer likely marking last day in House of Commons as Opposition leader

Today’s Commons sitting is one of two scheduled for August

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near Vancouver Island mall

RCMP in Parksville report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Lower Mainland woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

Most Read