Evolve Festival loses insurance coverage over drug testing kits
Days before it is supposed to start, the future of Nova Scotia’s Evolve music festival is in jeopardy over the organizer’s move to offer free drug testing.
On Tuesday, the event’s insurance provider pulled its liability coverage from the Antigonish-area festival.
Jonas Colter, producer for the event now in its 16th year, says the festival lost its coverage over concerns about plans to help concertgoers test their illicit drugs.
“The drug kits kind of made them feel uncomfortable and now they have pulled their insurance from us,” Colter said on Tuesday.
He said the idea behind the drug testing kits was to give attendees information about the drugs in their possession.
Organizers also want to avoid a tragedy like the one at New York City’s Electric Zoo festival in 2013, when two people in their 20s died from overdoses of ecstasy.
Colter said the initiative is about “being proactive and reducing overdoses and reducing stress on local community services, (those) being RCMP, EHS as well as the emergency room.”
Last year, RCMP say they responded to more than 50 calls to the festival site in Black Avon, N.S., and they took more than 30 people into custody.
Police are also among those unhappy about the drug testing kits.
“The RCMP is all about public safety. However, we don't support any initiatives that will condone illicit drug use, and these kits do condone illicit drug use,” said Sgt. Brian Rehill of the Antigonish RCMP.
The music is scheduled to start Thursday evening, but Colter said he’s still optimistic another insurance company will come forward to help.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Dan MacIntosh