By Aedan Helmer, Ottawa Sun
Lansdowne Park is home to three sports teams, features a farmer’s market, trendy restaurants and a chic shopping district, and plays host to open-air rock concerts, but the newly rebranded and relocated CityFolk will provide the site’s first true test as a “cultural hub.”
“It’s sort of the first test of the site, and I think the City has communicated that they want this to be a cultural hub,” said CityFolk executive director Mark Monahan, who staged his Ottawa Folk Festival at the picturesque Hog’s Back Park for the previous four editions.
“Obviously there’s lots of sports going on (at Lansdowne), but I think this is a great test for the site to see if people will come here for music, and to enjoy the site as that cultural hub,” said Monahan.
“This is really important that we establish the site and the event here.”
After taking over the festival in 2011, Monahan first moved the site from Britannia Park to the more centrally-located Hog’s Back.
But a complete lack of infrastructure at the park forced the festival to move to the decidedly more urban backdrop of Lansdowne.
But not everyone is on board with the move.
The city fielded dozens of noise complaints related to last year’s festival, as the sound drifted several kilometres along the Rideau Canal and into Old Ottawa South and The Glebe, where the bulk of the noise complaints originated.
Glebe resident John Smart was one of those who complained last year, and said he’s “apprehensive” over the idea of having the festival relocate to his back yard.
“I think it was a mistake for the city to let them relocate to the middle of the city,” said Smart.
“I think events like that are better suited to the outskirts of the city.”
While Smart called the noise from last year’s festival “unacceptable,” he had no complaints over the recent AC/DC concert hosted at Lansdowne’s TD Place stadium.
“Though it was audible from my house two-and-a-half blocks away, it wasn’t disturbing, it didn’t ruin the evening,” said Smart.
“The sound technology is there where you can entertain 30,000 people without having it affect the surrounding neighbourhood.”
Capital Coun. David Chernushenko has been in regular contact with Monahan, and with residents and community groups fretting over the impending arrival of festival headliners UB40, Wilco, The Avett Brothers, Of Monsters and Men and Van Morrison.
When the festival relocation was announced in December, Chernushenko said he sat down with Monahan to discuss “the good, the bad and the ugly of past festivals.”
“One of the ongoing challenges — and this is not unique to Ottawa — is this whole idea of outdoor sound and how it travels. We’re listening to what people are saying, but also trying to come up with a strategy that will be consistent in our approach.” said Monahan, who said all outdoor headliners will wrap up by 10 p.m., with music at indoor venues in the Horticulture Building and Aberdeen Pavilion continuing until midnight.