Centre of Gravity will be held on a new date, city council was told Monday.
The popular volleyball, basketball and extreme sport extravaganza brings world class DJs and musical acts to Kelowna for the August long weekend, attracting $5 million to the local economy in the process.
However, complaints from neighbours and general concerns about the drug use, squatting and the rowdiness it’s attractions also seem to draw have the City of Kelowna and organizers tossing about new dates in hopes of alleviating some of the pressure.
“I think it’s something we can work with as a community…Everybody has to compromise to make these kinds of events successful,” said councillor Andre Blanleil, as a report on the 2013 event was tabled at the weekly council meeting.
The event is considered the top tournament in Western Canada for a number of the sports involved and attracted Olympians like Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter to the beach volleyball courts this year.
However, by focusing on musical acts like Tiesto, Kaskade and Dada Life—the big names in this year’s lineup—COG has developed a party atmosphere some believe is causing problems on city streets.
A petition from one of the South Pandosy neighbourhood associations and complaints to City Hall prompted a review before council.
When the report came forward Monday, it was suggested more focus on the sports and a new date just might clear up the difficulties.
The festival is subject to review every year and city councillors were careful to note the organizer, Scott Emslie and Wet Ape Productions, has been extremely responsive to the municipality’s needs and those of the RCMP.
Councillor Maxine DeHart came right out and said “we want you to stay,” before suggesting that the date change would be mutually beneficial.
“Even in recession time, I can’t remember a long weekend in August where the hoteliers have trouble filling the hotel,” she noted. DeHart is in the hotel business herself.
With this said, filling hotels might not be the focus of COG party-goers, as noted in the presentation to council.
Another reason the City would like to see the festival moved is to avoid the long weekend factor.
Some 5000 people come to Kelowna for the event with tickets and roughly fifty per cent of the tickets sold go to locals. But numbers bandied about in the media peg the festival’s draw at 30,0000, not 10,000.
It’s hoped that by eliminating the long weekend option, some of the tagalongs who come for the festival atmosphere without a ticket will stay away as it eliminates the additional day for travel.
Among the other issues the festival is trying to address is the amount of drugs and alcohol consumed during the weekend. There were 84 calls made for an ambulance, 54 were for drug or alcohol related issues.
COG pays for two ambulances on site.