Problems with security hiring during Pemberton Music Festival

This letter is written to create awareness to the lack of organization and the perceived lack of caring towards careless hiring practices regarding the Pemberton Music Festival.

My 21-year-old son Saul was hired as a security guard by a company (which, for now, shall remain unnamed) that posted an ad on Craigslist. He was hired sight unseen by this so-called company and was bussed up to Pemberton to begin his seven-day assignment.

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As a new hire, one would expect a bit of scrutiny and information sharing so the personnel have the tools to do their jobs effectively in the field. Our son was told to bring a tent; that was the extent of his instruction. No hand-outs. No advising regarding the scope of the work, the dangers of the extreme heat during the day, and the cold of the night. No briefings on information of any sort.

Saul was given a posting at one of the gates, where he was left in the sun for 13 hours alone, to deal with angry campers looking to gain access in to the event. He was placed at an access gate where he was told explicitly to not allow pedestrians or cars in, but at the same time had to manage hundreds of carts and large service vehicle accessibility, all the while corralling massive crowds of people on foot.

He had two bathroom breaks in that 13 hours, only because he begged one of the passing carts to stop and look after his post so he could run to the bathroom. No chair. Food was notoriously delivered at least two hours late. Water was available, fortunately; that would be cruel otherwise.

After 13 hours of standing and controlling crowds and cars he was incoherent and suffering from heat exhaustion. He was never partnered or given any relief, whereas the other access points had several security personnel per gate. His gate was in the direct sun.

He got the pleasure of telling the campers to continue walking down the road for added 30 minutes to their proper access gate. Nobody was happy to be told this when the gate he was protecting would have allowed direct access to the event. People in cars tried to get through, and given the directions he was explicitly given, he denied their entry.

At minimum, 25 to 30 persistent motorists said they had clearance, so Saul radioed his dispatch to advise of this issue and was often not replied to, or told they would try to get there as soon as possible. Sometimes, there wasn’t even a response because his managers were also run off their feet and under-staffed.

Only after three days working the festival, Saul admitted himself to the medic tent, was given a doctor’s note and told to go home, rest and stay out of the sun. He subsequently visited Burnaby General Hospital and was given the same advice. A missed opportunity to make seven days earnings because of shoddy organizing.

Sketchy hiring practices like this are not only disgraceful, but can be a very serious health risk. My advice to festival organizers looking for a quick buck — do your due diligence and respectfully give your new hires the tools they need to do their jobs effectively and do not expect them to work in these inhumane working conditions.

This resulted in a dire consequence for Saul, at the expense of your terrible lack of instructions and sheer neglect of your employees hired to supposedly protect the 40,000 plus patrons who have paid you large sums of money to attend your alleged “safe and well-run” event, as SLRD board chair Jack Crompton said.  

Nicol Lischka

Deep Cove, B.C.

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