Victoria events could be standing room only after city sells bleachers

The organizer of the Victoria International Buskers Festival and several other events is upset the city sold bleachers used for his events.

City says bleachers were unsafe and due to be retired in 2015

A crowd sits on bleachers to watch a performance at a previous edition of the Victoria International Buskers Festival. (

A Victoria festival organizer is taking a stand — because there aren't enough places to sit.

John Vickers, who organizes the Victoria International Buskers Festival and several other events, is upset that the city has sold off most of the bleachers it rents out, at cost, for public events.

"It just kinda makes you wonder about the priorities of the city when it comes to these large, public events, which are really making a great difference downtown" Vickers told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"It would be very unfortunate for all those seniors and visitors and locals to not have a place to sit down on those waterfront parking lots."

Vickers says he was told the city hoped to sell the bleachers to a local purchaser who could then rent them out to events that needed temporary seating. instead, a Vancouver purchaser bought them.

Events like Buskers Fest used to get the bleachers from the city at around $2,000 to $3,000 with the cost going to the labour of set up and tear down.

Now, he says, it might cost his event about $30,000 to get the seating it needs.

"Our budget is typically fixed. We have no gate," he said. "This idea that these non-profit societies putting on these large public events can make the money materialize, I think, is poor foresight on the city's part."

In an email to All Points West, the City of Victoria said the bleachers were unsafe and were to be retired at the end of 2015.

"All event organizers were notified and most have made alternate arrangements," the email read, noting the city continues to provide a set of hydraulic bleachers, which equate to about a quarter of the seating required for Buskers Fest.

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Bleacher-gate: stands used for public events in Victoria sold by city


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