Ottawa Bluesfest Stage Collapse Due to "Severe Weather Event," Report Finds

Ottawa Bluesfest Stage Collapse Due to "Severe Weather Event," Report Finds
Following last summer's stage collapse at the Ottawa Bluesfest, performers Cheap Trick demanded an explanation for the disaster. Now, the investigation into the Bluesfest stage collapse is complete, and extreme weather has been blamed for the incident, meaning no charges will be laid against the concert organizers.

As the Ottawa Citizen reports, the Ontario Ministry of Labour found nothing to suggest that the structure was at fault. The storm that swept in on July 17 last year apparently had winds as high as 90 km/h, with gusts reaching 140 km/h, and it was this unpredictable weather that caused the collapse not "structural issues," according to engineers' reports.

Ministry spokesman Matt Blajer told the CBC, the collapse was solely due to a "severe weather event," adding, "[The] evidence does not meet the legal threshold for charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and therefore there will be no charges."

The Bluesfest organizers have apparently not yet received the official results of the investigation, but they are understandably relieved by media reports that their names have been cleared.

Bluesfest executive director Mark Monahan said in a statement, "We are pleased to hear reports that the Ministry of Labour has apparently determined that neither Bluesfest nor any of its suppliers are responsible for the stage collapse last year. The weather event last year led us to further strengthen safety procedures at Bluesfest this year, as reflected in our decision to hire an engineer to inspect all structures and our decision to hire a meteorological service to monitor the weather. The enjoyment and safety of our audiences, performers, volunteers and partners are of paramount importance to us."

The incident occurred during Cheap Trick's scheduled set at the Bluesfest. The band cut their performance short when the weather took a turn for the worse, and the stage fell less than a minute after they exited. Several people were injured but no one was killed.

Following the incident, Cheap Trick went on to cancel a Vancouver show over stage concerns and petition the U.S. government to improve concert safety.

This year, the currently ongoing Ottawa Bluesfest hired an independent engineer to inspect all of the stages.