Organizers and ticketholders say they have questions after Vaughan, Ont., pulled the plug on a popular Caribana concert at the last minute.
The city north of Toronto revoked the event’s permit Saturday night, sending home ticketholders who had been waiting for the concert to start.
The event called Carnival Kingdom had been running for seven years, and organizer SOS Fest Inc. said on social media that it had been sold out.
Ricardo Roe, legal representative for SOS, says organizers received a text message from Vaughan around 7:15 p.m. Saturday, stating their permit had been revoked.
In a statement Sunday afternoon on Twitter, Vaughan officials said the permit was pulled because the organizers had not complied with its terms.
Roe says the event was scheduled to start at 9 p.m and artists, including singer Machel Montano, were set to perform.
“We were shocked, a lot of people were in disbelief,” said Roe, adding they were reaching out to ticketholders Sunday to give them refund information. Tickets cost between $35 and $95.
He said officials came to clear the area.
Roe said he was told there had been noise complaints from about six kilometres away following a concert at the same venue on Friday night.
“The people that were close by, and the surrounding areas, they didn’t hear any music,” said Roe, adding that the venue is in an industrial area and their team measures decibel levels to ensure they meet standards.
City officials said in a tweet the decision to revoke the permits was made by staff and it had received “a number” of public complaints about the event.
Roe said usually if a permit is violated, they would have the chance to pay a fine.
“I’m not sure why it was so heavy-handed … it’s millions of dollars,” said Roe. “Everyone had been paid … a lot of money went right out the door.”
He said organizers are “distraught” about the cancellation and are still unsure exactly why the permits were revoked.
Ticketholders took to social media Sunday to express their disappointment in the cancellation.
Justin Mohammad said he was in line to attend the event just before 9 p.m. with his family. A half-hour later, security came to tell them it was cancelled.
“People were getting anxious, they wanted to go in and start having a good time and enjoy the music and enjoy the weekend,” he said, adding that security told them they didn’t know why it was shut down.
Brandon Bacchus said he and a friend were driving into the parking lot when a police officer told them the event was cancelled.
“We were pretty upset,” said Bacchus, 24, adding that he was excited to see the artists.
“It was handled terribly. I’m confused as to whether it was noise complaints, but an event as big as this, it shouldn’t have been shut down on such short notice,” he said.
“Why would you shut an event down right when it’s happening?” he said.
Olivia Bowden, The Canadian Press