Sylvester Road party over before it begins

Mission RCMP spent hours ensuring a party didn't happen last Saturday

Mission Mounties shut down a party last Saturday (Aug. 18) before it began.

Around 5 p.m. police found about 30 people trying to set up camp and a sound stage 15 km up the forestry road at the end of Sylvester, just east of Mission.

RCMP estimate between 1,000 and 1,500 people would have attended, and noted organizers didn’t have a permit for the event on Crown land.

“They were told to take down the equipment and asked to leave,” said Cpl. Sharon Siluch, adding alcohol was poured out and police were in the area until 2 a.m. “First and foremost, public safety was our number one concern. The terrain in this area is very rugged and members witnessed people drinking alcohol. Therefore, the priority was to shut down the event.”

Chilliwack resident Ty Mart was disappointed police got wind of the Facebook-invite party and said police created a dangerous situation by forcing intoxicated individuals to leave the site.

He says people camp in the area, and questions why a large group of friends would need a permit to get together.

Everyone knows someone, he said.

Mart had his camping gear and planned to spend the night with friends. They arrived around noon, but left for a little while, and when they returned later that day, police had a roadblock at the entrance to Lost Creek Forest Service Road.

Organizers had been there since the night before setting up, said the 24-year-old, who is friends with the party planners.

The gathering was already happening when police put a stop to it, according to Shane McEwen, one of the head organizers.

In an e-mail to The Record, he notes all the equipment was set up when police arrived and the first performer took the stage around 8 p.m. with police watching in the background. Organizers had complied with police requests to take down more than 90 per cent of speakers and “volume levels (were) only slightly louder than a car’s stereo.”

A few people started to dance and about an hour later, organizers were told to pack it in.

“We complied and packed everything up and it was approximately 12 a.m. by the time we finished,” said McEwen, adding a flat bed tow truck took away their large diesel generator at the organizers’ expense.

Police could have handled the situation better, Mart opined, preferring police keep an eye on the entire party instead of preventing it from happening.

“The crowd is pretty mellow.”

Mart has been to about a dozen similar parties across the province in the last few years. He says these events happen every weekend and, in his experience, people just want to be with their friends and enjoy the scenery. Attendees usually range in age from late teens to late 20s.

“The organizers do a good job packing up too … this is one of the more organized ones.”

According to Mart, organizers had spent thousands of dollars, and had arranged a shuttle bus to pick people up from SkyTrain stations across the region. Because everyone was being turned away, Mart says it’s impossible to know how big the event would have been.

This isn’t the first time someone has tried to set up a large party in a remote area in the community. McEwen says his group successfully hosted a similar party at the same location last month with cooperation from police.

Last year police also put a stop to a gathering up Burma Road on the west side of Mission.