LAVAL -- A music festival in Laval has been cancelled at the request of the city’s public security department amid what police call growing tensions among gangs in the city.

Laval’s LVL UP Digital and Music Lab festival was scheduled to take place from Sept. 16 to 19.

Laval Police (SPL) Chief Inspector Jean-François Rousselle says artists scheduled to appear at the event had claimed to be affiliated local gangs on social media.

He did not divulge which artists he was talking about, adding police believed “firearm culture” promoted by certain artists would draw gang members to the event. 

“There is so much tension [between gang members] that it was really clear for us that the level of risk was really high,” he said.

According to Rousselle, there have been 32 shootings in Laval since the beginning of this year, equivalent to the amount recorded for the whole of 2020.

“Police officers and detectives are telling us there are more and more weapons in circulation,” he said.

“Even younger people around 17 and 18-years-old are using guns.”

Ticket holders will get a full refund. An earlier promise from the festival to make a “large” donation to the Fondation du Center Jeunesse de Laval will be honoured.

“While this decision deeply saddens the LVL UP team, the health and safety of fans, artists, partners and employees are at the heart of the organization's concerns and cannot be put at risk,” read a press release from organizers, who declined CTV’s request for comment.

Like Montreal, Laval has recently upped its efforts to combat gun violence with a $1.2 million dollar investment in the city’s police force, allowing new officers to be hired.

“Laval is a safe city and intends to remain so,” Deputy Mayor Stéphane Boyer said in a news release following the announcement on Aug. 25.

“This is why we are adding police officers to our team who come to enhance the sustained efforts already deployed by the SPL,” added police director Pierre Brochet.