‘Evolve’s a go’

Nova Sco­tia mu­sic fes­ti­val will go on, but drugs won’t be tested


The Evolve Fes­ti­val in Antigo­nish this week­end will go ahead, but con­cert­go­ers won’t be able to have their drugs tested on site, as the or­ga­niz­ers had wanted.

“I signed a waiver that says we wouldn’t do any of the sort at Evolve this year,” said pro­ducer Jonas Colter Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

On Tues­day, Colter’s in­sur­ance com­pany told him it couldn’t in­sure him if he was go­ing to pro­vide drug test­ing for peo­ple at the fes­ti­val.

Now, he’s found a new in­sur­ance un­der­writer, but he still can’t pro­vide the ser­vice, which he calls harm re­duc­tion.

“It’s like an ele­phant in the room,” Colter said of drug-use at the fes­ti­val. “No­body wants to talk about it, but we de­cided to.”

The test­ing he had planned to of­fer would have told fes­ti­val­go­ers what the ma­jor­ity in­gre­di­ent in their pills or pow­der was. That means if some­one bought ec­stasy, they’d be able to find out if it’s ec­stasy, or some­thing like PCP or bath salts — drugs that Colter said cre­ate prob­lems at the fes­ti­val.

To Kings North PC MLA John Lohr, that would mean the fes­ti­val is con­don­ing drug use.

“They should’ve taken the po­si­tion that they wanted to elim­i­nate the drugs from the event, rather than en­cour­age the drugs in the event,” he said Wed­nes­day.

“These drugs are illegal be­cause they are in­her­ently dan­ger­ous to use.”

Colter said the rules of Evolve don’t per­mit drug use, but it’s some­thing the fes­ti­val and the po­lice have dealt with for years.

“Last year there were some peo­ple who were do­ing un­known drugs … that were mak­ing them tem­po­rar­ily ag­gres­sive psy­chotic that had to be re­strained and po­lice had to be called in,” Colter said.

“If we could weed out the es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous drugs at the fes­ti­val … I think that is to ev­ery­one’s favour, in­clud­ing the RCMP.” Lohr doesn’t see it that way. “If the events were drug free I think the po­lice would have less strain on their sys­tem,” he said.

Colter said at other fes­ti­vals, like Shamb­hala Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in Bri­tish Columbia, this kind of harm re­duc­tion pol­icy is work­ing.

“I want Evolve to be a utopian, ex­cel­lent fes­ti­val, and I just feel like this harm re­duc­tion doesn’t guar­an­tee it, but if we can get all the truly dis­gust­ing drugs off the site, it’s go­ing to help,” he said.

He said he’ll try to im­ple­ment that pol­icy for next year, and find an in­sur­ance provider who will still cover the fes­ti­val.

But for now, “Evolve’s a go and that’s what’s most im­por­tant.”


In this file photo, the crowd en­joys Evolve Fes­ti­val in Antigo­nish.

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