Boaters maintain their distance during the September 2019 Shake the Lake concert in Cinnemousun Narrows. (Contributed)

Shuswap Shake the Lake concert cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

Interior Health stands by province’s Gathering and Events Order

Organizers of this year’s Shake the Lake concert were feeling shaken themselves after receiving word from authorities that the show could not go on due to concerns about COVID-19.

The free-floating concert was scheduled to take place at Cinnemousun Narrows on Saturday, Sept. 5.

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 1, organizers of the boat-access-only event were notified by Interior Health that the show could not proceed.

This notification followed an appeal to the province, initiated by the concert’s organizers after they received a letter from Interior Health on Aug. 7. The letter was a reminder of the Provincial Health Officer’s Gathering and Events Order prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more for the purpose of an event.

The letter stated the floating concert would be in breach of the order, and the event would have to be modified to be compliant. Failure to comply with the order may have resulted in enforcement action including issuance of a violation ticket, prosecution or legal action.

The letter was also sent to the Sicamous chamber, the District of Sicamous and the Sicamous RCMP.

Read more: Floating concert to shake Shuswap Lake

Read more: Sicamous: This is Canada’s houseboat capital

One of the organizers, Mike Helfrick of Reds Rentals and Marina, explained the province was treating the concert like a drive-in movie, where only 50 vehicles would be allowed. He said organizers asked for an exemption to this, explaining the no services such as food or washrooms would be offered and participants would be in their own vessels on open water where participants could come and go as they pleased.

“We explained we had talked to the local RCMP who were for the event if the province was for the event… The only concern they (police) had was boats tying together, which we were happy to help them enforce,” said Helfrick. “We agreed we’d shut down the concert if people didn’t listen to those guidelines…”

On Tuesday morning, Sept. 1, concert organizers were on the phone with the office of the Provincial Health Officer, explaining how the concert would look with boats distanced on the water.

“It’s in the middle of nowhere, 50 miles from one town, 20 from another, there’s no way to drive to it, the only way to get in is by your own boat,” said Helfrick, adding the call from Interior Health came about a half hour later, and organizers were informed the concert was a no go.

The Shake the Lake concert was intended as a thank you from sponsoring Shuswap businesses to their customers.

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