Riversdale residents upset in wake of festival
WakeRide is over, but the ripple effects of the annual three-day festival, held along the bank of the South Saskatchewan River in Victoria Park, are still being felt in the city.
Organizers of the wakeboarding event are getting an earful from residents in Riversdale, citing problems with public drunkenness, parking and noise complaints.
"The issue was the public urination, the beer cans and bottles being thrown all over the neighbourhood, and the lack of access to parking," said Councillor Pat Lorje.
Lorje, who attended WakeRide on Saturday, said the problem isn't so much the festival itself, but how the event is managed.
"Perhaps [organizers] need to review their liquor permit," said Lorje, noting that the event is currently registered as an all-ages festival. "Maybe there needs to a 14 and over restriction," she said.
Lorje adds that organizers should also pay closer attention to the amount of alcohol that's being consumed.
"From the complaints that I've been getting, the concerns aren't so much when people are at the festival site itself, it's what happens when they leave and go to their vehicle," she said.
"I've got pictures of drink cups tossed in the middle of the street, people telling me they could make quite a few dollars if they chose to go down the back alley to pick up the beer cans, and people who were propositioned," said Lorje.
And it wasn't just residents in Riversdale who had complaints. Across the river, WakeRide also sparked grievances from residents in Nutana, saying that the noise from the concert shook their windows.
"The speakers were aimed towards the east side of the river," said Lorje.
Despite the complaints, however, Lorje said the festival is "great opportunity" for young adults to enjoy displays of extreme sports but said organizers should consider moving the event outside of residential areas.
"It does seem to me that there are other places that it could be located," said Lorje.
"Now I could be wrong but I didn't see anything that required [organizers] to have immediate access to the river. They had a waterslide but that could be recreated anywhere, even out at [Credit Union Centre]."
Victoria Park considered best location for festival
Festival organizers, however, said that moving the festival is “not a viable option.”
“Credit Union Centre, as has been suggested by the Councillor, is not a viable option as the river is too far away from that venue to allow for the wakeboard activities to be done,” explained WakeRide director Nowshad Ali in an email.
Ali said he was surprised to hear of the complaints “particularly since we have been unable to find any evidence to support or substantiate some of the claims.”
He said additional security staff was hired to supervised the roads and patrol the festival’s exit and entry points.
“Saskatoon police also deployed additional officers on bicycles and in squad cars to patrol the area and the site,” said Ali.
He said next year, organizer will consider beginning the festival earlier as well as “work in greater earnest to encourage the community to be a part of the consultation process for designing the festival plans.”
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