The City of Edmonton is asking for the public’s input on electronic dance music (EDM) parties a week after several people were taken to hospital and several more were arrested at an event.
The city has launched a week-long online survey that it says will be used to help take steps toward improving safety at large-scale EDM events in Edmonton.
Last Thursday, three people were taken to hospital — two in serious condition — from an EDM concert at the Shaw Conference Centre, while several other people were arrested on drug-related charges.
Edmonton police said there were eight drug-related arrests at the concert, called Get Together. Officers also seized 400 MDMA pills and “a quantity of cocaine” in connection with the arrests, police said.
Police confirmed a 20-year-old man was charged with seven drug-related offences, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
“Edmonton Police Service, together with Alberta Health Services (EMS) and the City of Edmonton, sits on the EDM Internal Working Committee and works with event organizers to improve the safety of electronic dance music events in our city,” police said.
The Shaw Conference Centre said the two-day event was provided with an emergency physician, three registered nurse practitioners, two paramedics, five emergency medical technicians and five emergency medical responders.
In October, six people were taken to hospital, some in life-threatening condition, after attending an electronic dance music party at the World Waterpark at West Edmonton Mall.
The city said the online survey is part of the efforts made by the EDM Internal Working Committee.
“We have been talking to the industry and other experts to fully understand potential public safety risks associated with large-scale EDM events and find ways to make the events safer,” City of Edmonton spokesperson Lori Yanish said.
“We need views from all parties so the survey reaches out to concertgoers, artists/DJs, staff and volunteers who attend EDM events and asks for their anonymous views and perspectives.”
Yanish said the survey is part of the committee’s research, which will be presented to city council in March and will include recommendations.
Earlier this year, a city committee voted against a proposed moratorium on electronic dance parties, or raves, in Edmonton.
A city report 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.
The proposed ban on raves was dismissed by some councillors because it could lead to a loss of income or jobs while others believed such a ban would drive the events underground, making them more dangerous.
Yanish said she is not sure if the working committee’s recommendations will include banning EDM events.
“The decision rests with city council, and I won’t speculate on what they may decide in the end,” Yanish said.
“It’s fair to say that in their discussions last June, they seemed to indicate an interest in finding a solution that will keep the events going but in a safer way. But they will need to feel confident that the approach they ultimately approve will keep people safe.”
—With files from Phil Heidenreich