May 09, 2014 - 1:41 PM
KELOWNA - In an effort to broaden appeal, heighten security and reduce negative impact on residents, Center of Gravity is making some changes for 2014.
This year will mark the 7th in a row the summer sports and music festival has come to Kelowna courtesy of Wet Ape Production.
While the festival certainly helps promote Kelowna as a tourist destination, the strain of policing 8,000 festival-goers and concerns raised by residents has forced event organizers to make several changes.
Late last year, council forced the festival off the already busy August long weekend and a new date, July 25-27, was agreed to by Wet Ape founder Scott Emslie.
“I think for long-term sustainability it’s definitely the best move for us to have our own weekend outside of the August long weekend,” he said. “It will take the pressure off a little bit.”
A review was also conducted by the Outdoor Events Committee and Wet Ape in an attempt to better understand the event and the challenges it brings to the city.
Event Development Supervisor Mariko Siggers will present the report to Council Monday, and it includes several commitments made by Wet Ape as well as recommendations of staff.
Among them, Wet Ape committed to booking more live acts rather than DJ’s to increase appeal for locals. They also agreed to cover additional costs of $26,000 incurred by local RCMP and to minimize damage to the sports field by moving concerts to the North Field. A dedicated Security Director will also be hired to develop an on-site security plan and Wet Ape will emphasize the sporting events rather than the live music.
Siggers says a sub-committee, consisting of representatives of the fire department, B.C. Liquor Control, RCMP and Bylaw Services, will identify critical issues, times and locations as well as a plan to address them.
In addition, council will not approve any late-night liquor extensions for any of the downtown bars and will work with RCMP, Bylaw and Parking Services to create an integrated off-site security plan.
“There has been a tremendous amount of cooperation from all members of the Outdoor Events Committee, the residents and Wet Ape,” Siggers writes in the plan. “It is anticipated that Center of Gravity will continue to benefit businesses, hotels and participants as it has for the past seven years.”
“At the end of the day everybody wants to see this event succeed,” Emslie says. “We all had a common goal in mind, which was to make this event sustainable as well as keep it a marquee event for Kelowna.”
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