Escapade defies doubters with few medical emergencies, noise complaints

The Escapade music festival at Lansdowne Park went off relatively smoothly, despite concerns about drug use and noise in the buildup to the event.

Outdoor stage at Lansdowne Park shut down Sunday because of storms

The relocated Escapade electronic music festival got a literal thumbs-up from many in attendance and a proverbial thumbs-up from health officials worried about safety. Some people living in the area weren't as enthusiastic about the loud music they could hear from their homes, which did stay within the city's noise limits. (CBC)

The Escapade music festival at Lansdowne Park went off relatively smoothly, despite concerns about drug use and noise in the buildup to the event.

However, severe thunder caused a bit of a scramble on Sunday when the main outdoor stage was shut down, although none of the main acts had to cancel.

Paramedics said 18 partygoers were treated during the two-night festival, and 10 of those cases were related to drugs and alcohol.

Two people overdosed on ecstasy and the sedative GHB, while another slipped and broke their leg, according to paramedics.

Michael Latimer of the Ottawa Paramedic Service told CBC News Sunday that those numbers suggest that there were fewer issues than they had anticipated.

None of the patients treated was in life-threatening condition, and responders did not have to use naloxone, a medication used to treat opiate overdose.

Concerns had been mounting because of an increase in overdoses in the city, especially with prom and festival season now underway.

For the first time in the festival's history, Ottawa police were on hand with what they call a "drug amnesty" box, where attendees could discard their drugs, no questions asked.

"It was a success, they did have some stuff that was dropped off anonymously before people entered the festival grounds," said Ali Shafaee, the festival's director of partnerships.

Organizers of the festival estimated that they spent about $200,000 on safety and security measures for the event.  

Escapade's Ali Shafaee said before the festival's second day began they expected 25,000 people to come to the festival. (CBC)

Noise an issue for some

Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko said he personally received 10 to 12 noise complaints from residents of Old Ottawa South, but the noise stayed within what's allowed under city bylaws.

"I heard from a number of immediate neighbours who weren't happy, we've certainly had louder [events] but several found it louder than they'd play their home sound systems with the windows closed, was how they described it," he said.

Sean McColgin, who lives in Old Ottawa South just across the Rideau Canal, said it's part of life near Lansdowne Park.

"The dog wasn't happy … you could hear the percussion," he said.

McColgin said the 2015 AC/DC concert at the stadium was louder, while others in the area wrote on social media that the noise was not as loud as it typically is for CFL games.

Organizers said bylaw officers were posted in three locations in the area, and noise levels did not exceed legal limits.

The Glebe Community Association's vice-president said he was pleasantly surprised with how Saturday went, with an Ottawa Fury soccer game drawing around 7,800 people the same afternoon as the festival started.

"This is a real good example that we're able to look back on and say we're able to have large festivals and events simultaneously here and it brings more Ottawans to our part of the city," said Anthony Carricato.

No 2018 location set

Escapade Festival was originally scheduled to take place at the Rideau Carleton Raceway, but was moved to Lansdowne Park earlier this month.

Many of the people who went said they liked the location and didn't mind the change.

"[Saturday] I really had a lot of fun, with the DJs and also it was such a sunny day … I like the stages, that there's one outside, one inside, one underground [at TD Place arena]," said Eliza Menendez outside the gates on Sunday.

Those extra stages came in handy when thunderstorms forced the main outdoor stage to be shut down Sunday and the lineup shuffled to fit into the two indoor stages.

Organizers have not yet decided on a venue for 2018, saying they'll first go over this year's event in the next few weeks.

"All evidence so far is the people running this event are trying on every front to do their best," Chernushenko said.

"In the end, is it just the wrong kind of music for this location? I'll reserve my final decision. I won't rush into it in a few days."


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