Popular events putting a strain on Oak Bay

Oak Bay seeing a steep increase in requests for new events

Families flocked to the park for last summer’s first music concert in Willows Park. The success of this and similar events has the district considering changes to the number of events allowed in the community.

Families flocked to the park for last summer’s first music concert in Willows Park. The success of this and similar events has the district considering changes to the number of events allowed in the community.

The success of past events has Oak Bay wondering if too much popularity is a good thing.

“We are a community that is a beautiful community that people want to bring those things to because we have the beautiful setting for it,” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite. “We’re almost at the tipping point now. We have to figure out how many is too many.”

Last council noticed a steep incline in events seeking a public space in Oak Bay and asked the Parks and Recreation Commission to have a look at guidelines in place.

“What was happening is they were getting a huge increase in requests for new events in Oak Bay that puts a huge strain on all the departments in Oak Bay,” said Braithwaite, council liaison to Parks and Rec. “We’re so fortunate because we are that kind of wonderful diverse community so we do get a whole lot of asks but we have to balance what the appropriate number of events are for the community, because the community can get saturated.”

During its committee meeting, council endorsed updated guidelines for public property occupancy requests. Committee decisions are recommended to council for approval.

The guidelines outline a series of considerations for both council and the commission to consider prior to allowing an event. Applications for private use of parks are considered first by the commission then by council. Parks and recreation can permit an individual club or association to use parks as a “playing ground” but specifically requires permits for ceremony, gathering or meeting, any amplification system or loudspeaker, private function, recreational program, tournament or to erect any structures. Only council can approve any commercial use.

“When I look at it, it’s a reiteration of what our current bylaws are and a reminder that we do need to look at the number of events we hold in our municipality,” Braithwaite said.

Organizers are responsible for extra costs associated to an event – such as signage, cleanup and policing – but those costs have not always been passed on.

“When we have this increase in events that’s an increase in policing or garbage maintenance … it affects so many different departments in the municipality,” Braithwaite said. “We have to make it fair for everybody and we have to make it so it’s not a cost to the municipality.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com