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Prince George city council seeks report on Cariboo Rocks the North costs

The annual outdoor music festival is hosted by CN Centre on behalf of the City of Prince George, and sponsored by Pacific Western Brewing.
Cariboo Rocks the North 2022
The 2022 Cariboo Rocks the North saw large crowds come out to enjoy the three-day classic rock festival.

Prince George city council has asked city administration to report back to council on the costs and revenues associated with hosting the annual Cariboo Rocks the North outdoor music festival.

Pacific Western Brewing is the naming sponsor for the three-day music festival held at Exhibition Park each August. CN Centre staff organize and host the event on behalf of the City of Prince George.

“The last concert made money…” city director of facilities and events Andy Beesley said. “We track every single event at CN Centre to see if they make money.”

The City of Prince George received a $69,400 grant from the BC Fairs Festivals and Events Fund to host the event this year, Beesley added. Cariboo Rocks the North is not the only event which the city hosts, which have paid title sponsors, he said.

In the contract between PWB and CN Centre for the 2022 version of the event, obtained by the Citizen through a Freedom of Information request, the local brewer paid $25,000 for the sponsorship rights, up to $25,000 in PWB-branded advertising materials and the services of PWB employee and city councillor Kyle Sampson as event manager. In exchange, PWB received the naming rights for the event, exclusive beer and pouring rights, and 160 tickets to the event to be used for promotions and given to clients.

CN Centre staff are responsible for booking the acts, providing the staff, stages, other infrastructure and insurance to host the event, according to the contract.

Coun. Brian Skakun said he’s heard from other local companies that would be interested in being part of the “biggest music event in the city.”

“How come we haven’t opened up the procurement on this?” Skakun asked. “This is about being open, fair and honest. This is about reporting something I don’t know why we didn’t report to start with.”

Mayor Simon Yu said he supported a one-time report to “put the matter to rest” and provide the public with a clear picture of the city’s expenses and profits from hosting the event.

Councillors Tim Bennett, Trudy Klassen and Susan Scott said the city should have a clear policy regarding naming rights for events, similar to the city’s naming rights policy regarding civic facilities.

“This is an operational decision,” Coun. Ron Polillo said. “Would we even be having this discussion if one of council didn’t work for the sponsor?”

Polillo, Scott and Coun. Cori Ramsay opposed the request for a report back on the concert operations.

Sampson did not participate in the discussion, because of his conflict of interest in the matter.

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