When Centre of Gravity rolled into Kelowna 11 years ago, it was dubbed Canada’s hottest beach festival, pumping millions into the local economy.
“When we’ve done economic studies in the past, it’s been about $5 million,” Center of Gravity organizer Scott Emslie told Global News in the past.
And so the beat went on, and it looked like Centre of Gravity had found a permanent home. However, cracks began to appear. Police were seeing a spike in calls and the flood of young revelers was too much to handle.
Center of Gravity was forced to move from the August long weekend to late July. And the move had an immediate impact.
One year, Kelowna RCMP told Global News that calls for service in the downtown core decreased by about 30 per cent.
The festival hit a sombre note last year when a Kamloops teenager, Adison Davies, died from what was believed to be an overdose.
“I was devastated,” one person told Global News. “That was horrible. She was so young.”
This week, organizers announced the festival wouldn’t be coming back to Kelowna this year.
“Since its inauguration in 2008, Center of Gravity has grown to become one of the largest sports and music festivals in Canada,” said organizers. “We are announcing today that Center of Gravity will not be returning in 2019.”
Reaction on social media has been mixed. Some are happy to see the festival go, saying “I couldn’t be more happy at this moment. Good riddance and please don’t come back anytime soon either.”
But another suggests it’s going to be Kelowna’s loss, stating “So I guess Kelowna is going to feel this once a huge chunk of the tourists brought in by this won’t be there.”
The Centre of Gravity web site says that despite cancelling 2019 it hopes to be back in 2020.
“While there are many positive aspects to Center of Gravity, the City of Kelowna has had some concerns with the event’s impact on the community,” said Kelowna mayor Colin Basran.
“A one-year break provides an opportunity to address concerns and explore possible options. We look forward to working with them on their event to create a fresh vision with renewed support from the community.”