Escapade festival promising to keep it down with move to Glebe

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Move from Rideau-Carleton Raceway to Lansdowne Park announced just over 2 weeks from festival

By Andrew Foote, CBC News

The Escapade electronic music festival — along with the city councillor for the Glebe — is assuring residents near Lansdowne Park they won't be kept up by the event's booming bass.

On Wednesday, the festival's organizers announced they were moving the June festival from the Rideau-Carleton Raceway in rural south Ottawa to Lansdowne Park, citing "rezoning and development" issues stemming from the track's recent partnership with Hard Rock International.

The festival had been held at the raceway for the last three years. It will take place this summer on the Great Lawn, the large greenspace at Lansdowne Park.

"Basically, this system is able to contour the sound field in three dimensions so we can literally take a remote control and change the speaker angles on the spot," said Ali Shafaee, the festival's director of partnerships.

"I think that's going to be a huge improvement in terms of making sure the sound doesn't bleed out into the neighbourhood."

There will be a stage on the lawn facing TD Place stadium, another on the south side of the Aberdeen Pavilion under a specially-shaped tent to contain sound and a third for the most bass-heavy music in the TD Place arena, according to technical information from the organizers shared by the city.

The eighth edition of Escapade features headliners Tiesto, Steve Aoki, Above and Beyond and Canadians Zed's Dead.

Councillor nervous

Capital ward councillor David Chernushenko said he was first approached with the idea of holding the festival at Lansdowne Park about six weeks ago.

"Knowing the track record of concern in the community around too many events and too much noise, and the right kind of event, they were aware I would need some real convincing," he said.

Chernushenko said he did end up being convinced because he has it in writing they'll keep the noise and bass to acceptable levels and if not, they could be immediately shut down or fined by on-site bylaw officers.

"The worst that can happen is we have a bad weekend for people and it never comes back, the best that can happen is we collectively demonstrate this technology and these measures actually work and we could have events of this type on site without it being something the neighbours have to suffer through," he said.

Shafee said they had an agreement with the raceway since August 2016 to host the event there and plans were well underway until March, when they learned they wouldn't be able to host it there.

He declined to talk further about what the agreement was, only that the raceway had given them a letter of reference in November so it could apply for grants for this year's festival there.

The raceway declined to comment, but said no contract was in place.

Escapade part of busy weekend at Lansdowne

The City of Ottawa said it first got an email asking about using Lansdowne on March 10. It met with "interested parties" on May 16 and finalized the agreement on Tuesday.

The festival is being added onto an already busy weekend at Lansdowne Park. There's the home opener for the Redblacks on the Friday night, an Ottawa Fury soccer game on the Saturday afternoon and the farmers market on the Sunday.

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which partnered with the city to redevelop the park, said the Escapade set-up starts that Monday and will pause at 3 p.m. Friday for the Redblacks game.

Escapade Music Festival sign: Stay Hydrated, Party Safe
It says there will be minimal impact on the Fury game because its 2 p.m. kickoff time is before the 3 p.m. Escapade start time.

It has similar expectations for the farmers market on Sunday, which has a 3 p.m. end time that matches the time the music is expected to start.

"We have been involved in transportation planning and operational logistics planning meetings and we're confident the event will be successful," said OSEG in an email.

With files from Jennifer Chevalier