Acadian festival volunteer whose car was speared calls security 'inadequate'

·3 min read
Volunteer Steve Powers says his car wasn't the only one damaged in the parking lot outside an Acadian festival event the first weekend in September. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)
Volunteer Steve Powers says his car wasn't the only one damaged in the parking lot outside an Acadian festival event the first weekend in September. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)

A man who helped clean up after this month's Acadian festival in P.E.I.'s Évangéline region says his car was vandalized during the event, as were vehicles belonging to other volunteers.

"A lot of people were certainly feeling the effects of alcohol, and maybe some of them might have had too much to even be attending the event, but it just seemed like the security was a little bit inadequate for dealing with crowds," said volunteer Steve Powers.

That weekend, two people were assaulted at the same festival, the Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival in Abram-Village.

People in the community have described the attack as racially motivated, since the two men who were injured were from Algeria. RCMP have arrested four people so far, but as of Monday, there was no word on whether any charges had been laid in that case.

Powers said he had just finished a long shift on clean-up duty at the festival when he found something sticking out of the back of his car: a metal pole that had been used to hold up temporary fencing.

"It was really hard labour," he said. "Coming out at 3:40 a.m. after doing all that and seeing that somebody who was there enjoying the festival [had] come out and [done] something to your vehicle like that — it's just like, 'Come on, guys.'"

Submitted by Bob Powers
Submitted by Bob Powers

Other vehicles also damaged

Powers was part of a group working the festival to raise money for an upcoming baseball tournament; his son plays on one of the teams attending. He said vehicles belonging to other volunteers were also damaged.

"It's certainly disappointing when you're doing fundraising and a lot of the fundraising you're doing is gonna end up going towards repairing your vehicles," said Powers. "It's kind of just two steps forward, three steps back."

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

Initially, Powers said, festival organizers assured him they'd cover the cost of repairs, but he'd have to deal with their insurance provider directly.

Eventually Powers said organizers offered to pay the $500 deductible for him to file a claim through his own insurance.

Not clear when damage occurred, festival says

A spokesperson for the festival said a Charlottetown company was hired to handle security for the evening events, with staff mainly assigned to managing entry and exit points and keeping an eye on crowds inside the arena.

Submitted to Radio-Canada
Submitted to Radio-Canada

Jeanne Gallant, president of the Évangéline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival, says it's not yet clear when the damage to the vehicles occurred.

"The guards would have been inside and the other security that were in the parking lot and in the camping area — we just don't know what happened, at what time it happened," said Gallant.

Gallant said she hopes a police investigation will identify those responsible for the damage.

She said organizers have already been discussing changes to next year's event, to try to make sure the experience is a safe and positive one for everyone involved.

"For sure, we'll be doing things differently. But I mean, right now we did everything that we always do and we did everything that was recommended. We followed the guidelines from the Liquor Commissioner.

"We did everything we were supposed to do."

Organizers responsible for security, numbers

A spokesperson for the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission told CBC News in an email that organizers "must prove that adequate security is present to control the event" as a condition of obtaining a liquor licence.

But it falls to those same organizations to determine exactly "what the appropriate amount of staffing would be for their respective event."

Liquor inspectors "play a regular role in working with applicants and organizations in ensuring that all PEILCC rules, including adequate staffing, are in place," the email said.