Shaking the foundations in the Glebe

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Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa's folk music festival is coming to Lansdowne Park.

As arts writer Lynn Saxberg reports in Tuesday's Citizen, the newly-named CityFolk will take place at the redeveloped Bank Street park from Sept. 17 to 20, 2015.

The festival has spent the past four years at the bucolic, if a bit muddy, Hog's Back Park, but organizers appear to be after a more accessible site with better electrical and water hook-ups.

Lansdowne's got that, but it's also got neighbours. Lots of them. And if the noise from the festival prompted complaints and charges last year — when the main stage was located several kilometres away — one can only imagine what will happen when the stage is closer.

Saxberg's story says organizers will be mindful of the direction the main stage faces and are thinking about presenting shows earlier in the evening, so the music will be finished by 10 p.m., instead of 11 p.m.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko spoke out about the complaints he received after the first night of this year's festival, saying at the time that it was the organizer's responsibility to ensure the city's noise bylaws weren't being broken.

Keeping noise under control has nothing to do with stopping people from having fun, Chernushenko said then.

"It's about respect ... I'm just tired of talking to festival organizers and having them argue with me, and tell me I'm wrong, and that my residents are just a bunch of no-fun party poopers, that, really, it wasn't that bad."

Ottawa Folk Festival rebranded as Cityfolk

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By Aedan Helmer, Ottawa Sun

Urban-dwellers are going to have to learn to get along with the Cityfolk.

The city's info line was flooded with noise complaints in September -- coming primarily from Glebe residents -- when the 20th anniversary edition of the Ottawa Folk Festival took the stage four kilometres and two neighbourhoods away in Hog's Back Park.

Now, festival boss Mark Monahan is setting up shop right in their back yard, bringing the newly-rebranded Cityfolk Festival to Lansdowne Park for the 2015 edition.

"I think Lansdowne is a great site for outdoor events, and not specifically TD Place, but the entire park, with the Great Lawn, Aberdeen Pavilion, the Horticultural Building, and we've been talking with the city and looking at those spaces," said Monahan.

"And ultimately we've grown the Folk Festival to the point where staging at Hog's Back has become difficult logistically."

Monahan enjoyed some great success after taking the floundering festival under his wing and moving it to Hog's Back for four editions -- the audience and artistic budget expanding exponentially -- but the 2014 festival was marred by a war of words that erupted over a bylaw ticket issued on opening night.

But Monahan said the goal is to work with communities and residents to mitigate issues around the sound bleed.

"It's a site the city wants to promote as a cultural site, and not just sporting events, and I think this is a great anchor event," he said.

Monahan sat down with Capital Coun. David Chernushenko to smooth over any lingering ill feelings and to start ironing out the kinks.

New home, new name for Ottawa Folk Festival: Cityfolk @ Lansdowne

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Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa Citizen

The 2015 edition of the Ottawa Folk Festival will have a slick new name and an urban home to mark the start of its third decade of existence. CityFolk will take place at Lansdowne Park from Sept. 17-20.

The move to the newly revamped Bank Street landmark comes after four years of butting heads with Mother Nature at the lush, green Hog's Back Park site. Though spacious and picturesque, the National Capital Commission park was never designed for large events, noted festival director Mark Monahan in an interview.

"It really is a difficult site to manage when you have any kind of precipitation," Monahan said, recalling the muck that developed at Hog's Back when it rained. "There's no water or power or service roads. Just basic servicing of toilets and vendors is extremely difficult. It is a beautiful location but problematic in many ways for a larger event."

At the Lansdowne Park site, the CityFolk main stage will be located on the Great Lawn, the expanse of green space next to the TD Place football stadium. The festival will also make use of the Aberdeen Pavilion, the Horticulture Building and likely some of the other public spaces, but not the stadium. No big jump in attendance is expected; capacity of the new site is estimated at about 15,000 people.

Of course, moving the festival to the heart of the city may spark a flurry of noise complaints from nearby residents, especially considering the fest was charged this year after complaints during the opening-night concert by Foster the People. To deal with the issue in the new site, organizers say they will be mindful of the direction the main stage faces, and are considering the idea of presenting concerts earlier in the evening so the music is finished by 10 p.m. Monahan said he hopes to further discuss the city's noise bylaw with Capital ward Coun. David Chernushenko in the new year.

Ottawa's Integrity Commissioner can't have it both ways on gift registry

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Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen

While there was lots to like about the first council meeting of the term held Wednesday, not every decision made by council was laudable. In particular, the decision to raise the disclosure threshold from $30 to $100 was misguided, to put it kindly.

When council adopted the gift registry in May 2013, councillors at the time voted to make the disclosure limit quite low — $30, one of the lowest in the country. What that means is that councillors could accept anything valued at $30 or lower without worrying about disclosing it. In the words of Coun. David Chernushenko, the $30 threshold covered "a coffee, a sandwich, a ball cap."

Councillors were still able to accept gifts worth more than $30, but they'd just have to disclose them on the city's online gift registry. At the time, the city's Integrity Commissioner appeared thrilled about the $30 level. (Councillors have to register gifts of event tickets as well, but that falls under a different part of the policy. And at no time are councillors allowed to accept gifts of any value from anyone with an active file on the lobby registry.)