Will Drugs Chase Music Festival from Calgary?

The Chasing Summer music festival, which bills itself as the largest electronic music festival in Western Canada, is causing controversy due to the drug use that occurs there. Some city officials are questioning whether or not this festival should be allowed to return to Calgary in future years.

The concern among Calgary city council members has more to do with public health than law enforcement, [they insist] (http://www.calgarysun.com/2015/08/10/calgary-deputy-mayor-not-impressed-with-drug-tainted-chasing-summer-music-festival), however it isn't clear that pushing the festival outside the city would actually provide a favorable health outcome.

Last year, there were ten confirmed overdoses involving alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two; this year, seventeen festival attendees left in ambulances with suspected drug overdoses. Dehydration is a confounding factor, according to some, with inadequate shade and water for the estimated 15,000 guests of the event.

Forcing the festival to find a private location where the city isn't directly responsible sounds attractive to some Calgary council members, however the detriment to the Calgary economy would not likely be offset by fewer overdoses and greater control, in fact, the exact opposite is far more likely.

Taking proactive steps to ensure safety, rather than only dealing with drug use when it has become a major health concern, makes more economic and public health sense, for Calgary and for festival attendees. As long as the festival is held at Fort Calgary, the city is able to ensure greater transparency and oversight.

Moving to a private location will not relieve Calgary emergency services or law enforcement from their duties, and would only make the health concerns worse.