Efforts to stop public urination during Bluesfest not working, residents say

A woman who owns a house on Booth Street says Bluesfest attendees are still treating her property like a bathroom, despite the extra porta-potties installed nearby.

Attendees feel 'they should get to pee wherever they want to,' Booth Street homeowner says

A man urinates along the fence near 190 Booth St. during last year's Ottawa Bluesfest. (Sarah Taylor)

Sarah Taylor is peeved.

The Centretown resident lives on Booth Street, not far from the Bluesfest festival grounds, and has been dealing with concertgoers trespassing and urinating on her lawn.

"The noise actually doesn't bother me. The crowds don't bother me. For me it's the destruction of the property and the trespassing," Taylor told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Thursday.

Last year she asked dozens and dozens of people to leave her property, and this year hasn't been much different. 

"[The problem is] the volume. It's the size of the crowd," she said. "And the expectation that they're coming to the festival, they should get to pee wherever they want to." 

In a single night during the festival, she said she'll tell about 50 people to get off her lawn.

Centretown resident Sarah Taylor and Bluesfest spokesperson Joe Reilly say Bluesfest patrons should follow 'the golden rule.' 0:33

Trying to curb the problem

Bluesfest organizers told CBC News they put up 40 extra porta-potties outside the festival grounds this year to help deal with the problem.

Taylor has seen a few of them at the end of her street and said they're helping, in combination with a greater police presence and a supportive city councillor.

Residents along Booth Street in Centretown have been putting up signs and caution tape in an effort to deter Bluesfest attendees from peeing on their property. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

But the measures haven't entirely solved the problem, she said.

"I think [the extra porta-potties] definitely helped. The people who were peeing last year kind of out of desperation with nowhere else to go, those people are using the porta-potties," she said.

"But there are people though who just think they should be able to pee on my children's sand toys."

Social media shaming

Taylor and her neighbours have been taking photos of some of the urinators — some have defecated, too — and posting the pictures on Twitter. 

"What we're trying to do is raise awareness," she said. "This is to show the extent of the problem."

Some people get upset about their photographs being taken, while some don't care, she added. 

What Taylor said she wants is for the neighbourhood to be blocked off during Bluesfest, with event fencing put up along the side of Albert Street so festival attendees can't walk through the area when they're leaving.

"I don't think I should expect urinating and defecating in my space, in my home," Taylor said. "I don't think that's a regular expectation of living downtown. And this is a residential neighbourhood and a lot of people choose to live here because it's a beautiful neighbourhood the rest of the year."

A woman living near Bluesfest says the music festival has her singing the blues since she's chasing up to 50 people off her lawn some nights. We hear why she thinks the city isn't doing enough to deal with the problem. 6:09