Six people at an electronic dance music party at West Edmonton Mall’s World Waterpark on Friday night were taken to hospital. Four of them were listed in serious, potentially life-threatening condition, Alberta Health Services has confirmed.
AHS told Global News on Wednesday that the other two people taken to hospital were listed in stable condition. AHS said it could not provide details on why the people were hospitalized because of privacy concerns.
The waterpark was the site for an event dubbed “Soundwave,” which one website billed as “the wildest indoor beach party.” Zedd, a Russian-German electro house music DJ, was advertised as a performer at the event.
Watch below: Changes made ahead of the 2018 edition of Calgary’s Chasing Summer Festival are aimed at making the event safer for everyone. Bindu Suri filed this report in August 2018.
The Soundwave website includes a long list of rules to be followed by attendees at Friday’s event, including not to bring any drugs or illegal substances, weapons, flammable items or outside food or beverages. Attendees had to be 18 or older to gain entry to the event and visitors were not allowed “in and out privileges.”
“The water slides and hot tubs are not operational during Soundwave events to ensure the safety of all guests,” the Soundwave website says. “The wave pool will be open to a depth of three feet, however, the waves will not be turned on.”
Global News has contacted Soundwave for comment on the people who were hospitalized.
In a statement, West Edmonton Mall said it “is not privy to the personal health records of the individuals who attend the Soundwave events.”
“We work very closely with Edmonton Police Services, Alberta Health Services, the Public Safety Compliance Team and AGLC and receive approval prior to each one of the events,” Lori Bethel, WEM’s director of parks and attractions, said in an email. “West Edmonton Mall utilizes 27 security agents from our in-house security team, 83 special event security guards and 17 Edmonton police officers for the event.
“We also have a team of paramedics that are hired for each event. We are committed to a safe and fun environment for all guests attending our events.”
The Edmonton Police Service told Global News it had officers at the event as “extra duty detail,” working in the same capacity as when members are hired to work at other larger public events.
Police said they are not investigating anything to do with events that occurred at the water park on Friday and that nobody has been arrested in connection with the hospitalizations.
In June, a city committee voted down a proposed moratorium on electric dance music parties in Edmonton.
A report submitted to the committee had recommended a ban on raves, noting that electronic music parties are linked with “widespread consumption of drugs” and “drug-facilitated sexual assaults” that tie up emergency services.
On Thursday, Councillor Scott McKeen, who is also chair of the city’s community services committee, said Edmonton is continuing to work with organizers of dance music festivals.
“A number of them are getting their act together. And if there are some that are not getting their act together, we have to find a way to separate the good from the bad and encourage the good and work with the good and find ways to shut down the operations of the bad,” he said.
“The trick here — I mean, the danger in any of these things — is if you get too heavy-handed and not work with the industry, you drive it underground and that could actually be worse.”
He said many of the promoters the city has spoken with have already made improvements.
“We need to see the industry,” McKeen said. “They have to take responsibility here. Because if they don’t take responsibility, then we’re going to have to take responsibility for them and nobody, I don’t want to do that.
“I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade here. I want people to have fun and enjoy the nighttime economy in Edmonton.”
One suggestion being looked at is to have a doctor on scene at electronic dance music festivals.
Watch below: In June 2018, Fletcher Kent filed this report about a proposed moratorium on raves in Edmonton.
The mayor reiterated Thursday that a complete ban on raves wasn’t the right approach.
“Moratoriums are a very blunt instrument for dealing with any kind of policy challenge,” Don Iveson said.
“I think if we do that then the community will come out and react and council will probably back down anyways. I think we’ve learned that we need to use finesse, not blunt instruments, to solve challenges here.
“Clearly there continue to be public safety challenges and we have to responds to those, public health officials and Alberta Health Services have to respond to those, police have to respond to those.
“If there are regulatory decisions for council to make, then I think we’ll rise to those.”
— With files from Scott Johnston