Charlottetown Festival of Lights

The noisy tourismocrats at the Capital Commission announced their battle plans today in their war to again sacrifice our neighbourhood to tourists interested in pummelling themselves with teenage rock. Rather than boring you with the details, I present only the superlatives therefrom:

  • grand style
  • remarkable
  • top
  • largest
  • most spectacular
  • envy of the nation
  • significant
  • best
  • very important
  • major
  • climbing the charts
  • riding the wave
  • popular
  • major feat
  • biggest
  • biggest ever
  • smash hit
  • exciting
  • grand
  • largest
  • most spectacular
  • significantly enhanced
  • largest
  • most spectacular
  • amazing
  • fabulous
  • hit
  • pulsating
  • contagious
  • award winning
  • fabulous


Johnny Rukavina's picture
Johnny Rukavina on May 13, 2005 - 20:30 Permalink

In spite of the risk of creating a rift in the family, I feel compelled to say it: You have officially reached “grumpy old man” status in your rants about the Festival of Lights. I think its time to lay off and let the kids rock out.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on May 13, 2005 - 20:31 Permalink

I reached “grumpy old man” status about 6 years ago vis a vis this issue; I have a responsibility to the fans to keep the embers glowing.

Marcus's picture
Marcus on May 14, 2005 - 01:04 Permalink

I’m with Peter on this. When you can hear awful, awful top-40’ish have-been performers like Live, Hootie and the Blowfish, or Nickleback clear as a bell 1 mile overland from the waterfront, then it must be sheer hell for downtown residents. PEI and Charlottetown in particular just isn’t designed (by humans or by nature) for these types of events. We have pleasant countryside and quiet villages, towns and small cities (ok, towns in the rest of the world). Charlottetown has a large number of residents in close proximity to the waterfront, unlike some other communities in the rest of Canada which can get away with hosting something like this.

We don’t have a natural ampitheatre for large-scale outdoor concerts like Citadel Hill, or Red Rocks — the only facility that I can think of which would come close to offering a suitable noise buffer and crowd control would be the former CFB Summerside airfield — Toronto used the former CFB Downsview military airfield for the Rolling Stones concert, although even then there were noise complaints from area residents. I’m sure the same would be the case for residents in Traveller’s Rest, Miscouche, and St. Eleanor’s, not to mention Slemon Park.

The Capital Commission (why again does PEI have such a commission? — Fredericton is only looking at establishing one now, most Canadian cities call them development commissions, however we seem to want to emulate Ottawa?!?!) is just a concert promotion agency and make-work project for the provincial government. In my mind, it doesn’t seem to provide any tangible benefits to PEI… once you remove all the salaries, insurance pay-outs for blowing fireworks cinders over Peakes Quay yacht club, payment of additional non-ticket price fees to performers who play for only 5-10,000 people etc. etc. — there isn’t a heck of a lot to show from the commission’s work, and that’s only for one event.

I’m only in my 20’s but I used to remember how Charlottetown’s waterfront was in the 80s and early 90s before the tourists. The east end was a pretty tight neighbourhood without the skyrocketing home assessments going on. Sure the waterfront was industrial — there were oil tanks, trains and ships, gravel barges, etc., but this was all very manageable and we didn’t have hordes of annoying tourists and drunken college kids (or younger) destroying people’s property. Before the Water Street extension, residents would complain about truck traffic running on Prince or Weymouth streets to and from the marine terminal and that was about the only big problem, and it was during the daytime.

Everything changed after CN left in 1989 and the Texaco tank farm became Confederation Landing park and gov’t got the bright idea to throw tacky tourist shops in ala South Street Seaport or Historic Properties. Now we have a bar that frequently breaks fire marshall codes with drunks running through all the surrounding neighbourhoods. The park I can live with — I can understand that if industry has left and the property is a brownfield with scenic potential, wanting to make the waterfront a liveable space for the enjoyment of residents, but throwing on events like Festival of Lights is quite the irritation for not just downtown residents, but all over the city.

Just as I can get by without having Rainbow Valley in Cavendish (unlike the recent spate of cry-babies in the Island’s so-called tourism “industry” who don’t like the fact someone can choose who they wish to sell their land to ie. have Parks Canada preserve the property in its natural state, rather than see it subdivided and destroyed), I can also get by without having to have Charlottetown host these noisy intrusions into our lives, not to mention being a gargantuous waste of taxpayer’s money.

oliver's picture
oliver on May 14, 2005 - 01:33 Permalink

How much would it cost to give every attendee a set of wireless headphones and broadcast the PA system that way?

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on May 14, 2005 - 01:35 Permalink

Hmm, that’s quie a line-up of words Pete; if perhaps a little repetative in places. As much can be gained from your list as can be from reading the text, save perhaps names and dates.

It reminds me of the euphamism (racino) being offered as a replacement for the sexiest word in the English language. Islanders are clearly too conservative to handle a casino, but seem sufficiently progressive (or hornswoggled) to accept the former.

Perhaps all the important details are in the (real) answers to the question: Why are superlatives and euphamisms thought to be necessary when delivering public information to the public.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on May 14, 2005 - 01:44 Permalink

The CBC story reports that Capital Commission Executive Director Kim Green “…will also meet with people living near Confederation Landing Park before the event. She says they won’t turn down the music. The noise is just something they will have to live with.”

Kevin O's picture
Kevin O on May 14, 2005 - 02:07 Permalink

Is a meeting a meeting when the purpose is poo-pooed beforehand? I suppose it’s better than a complete snub though.

Anyway, what’s the solution? Can they still have their bacchanal and you(z) your peace?

oliver's picture
oliver on May 14, 2005 - 13:54 Permalink

This is classic NIMBY vs manifest-destiny/eminent domain conflict. If Peter were fighting nuclear waste, I suppose he might have a chance. Fighting the dominant cultural paradigm of a “good time,” it looks like a snowball’s chance in Hell from where I’m standing. I remember the time a serene wooded neighborhood in Berkeley, California tried to stop Paul McCartney from playing in the nearby college stadium.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on May 14, 2005 - 14:39 Permalink

From the City of Charlottetown Noise Bylaw, section 2.3: “Any person who permits or engages in any activity that unreasonably disturbs or tends to disturb the peace and tranquility of a neighbourhood, is guilty of an offence.”

oliver's picture
oliver on May 14, 2005 - 14:54 Permalink

What to do about that “unreasonably” limitation though? Victory parades are noisy but cities issue parade permits presumably assuming that “everybody (who’s reasonable) loves a parade.” Incidentally there is a traditional way to turn a party into something like nuclear waste: You just talk about how they are a breeding ground of sin, which corrupts the innocents and weakens the glue that holds society together and keeps it from dissolving into a Devil’s den of anarchy. It hasn’t worked so well in a while, but fundamentalism seems to be growing popular again.

oliver's picture
oliver on May 14, 2005 - 15:26 Permalink

Actually, it might be just as good to label it the “MTV-ization” of PEI and a dangerous undermining of what people traditionally most love about the place. That’s not so far from your innate and sincere take on this, Pete (right?), so maybe you do have a promising political platform there. Let me change my odds to a snowball’s chance in Greenland, taking into account the uncertainties created by climate change. In other words, let me confess I have no idea.

Ken Williams's picture
Ken Williams on May 16, 2005 - 19:15 Permalink

Small city, big concert.

Of course noise bylaws are waived: it’s not your noisy neighbour — it’s a city sponsored event!

You live in a city dude, expect some noise once in a while! Be glad it’s only a weekend and not the daily sonic boom of the flight path, endless sirens, or the rumble of trains.

Wake up Charlottetown! You’re sleeping!

Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on May 16, 2005 - 19:45 Permalink

I’d trade you a full season of window-rattling over-loud motorcycles revving up and down University Avenue for one Festival of the Lights. But I shouldn’t have to.

Ken Williams's picture
Ken Williams on May 16, 2005 - 20:05 Permalink

Normal city sounds alarm Charlottetown residents!/

Ken Williams's picture
Ken Williams on May 16, 2005 - 20:12 Permalink

My biggest noise complaint is when I hear the fridge running at my house, two rooms away.

However, I’d trade my serenity for capital city noise if it meant no pesticide drift from the fields surrounding my quiet house.

Ken Williams's picture
Ken Williams on May 16, 2005 - 20:13 Permalink

Here in Detroit (where work takes me) you get noise and poison!

RaeLynn Maclean's picture
RaeLynn Maclean on June 29, 2005 - 16:35 Permalink

The Festival is only 4 or 5 days long, it draws alot of people to our Island an is excellent for local businesses. Also what other time do we have big name groups come here.. hardly ever. I live in Charlottetown and the noise really does not bother me. I would rather have concert noise for one week than live in a big city where there is constant noise from sirens and trains and subways . I think people who are bothered by the noise should go live in Toronto for a week and see how peaceful and great it actually is here. I think they can put up woth 5 days of music that is good for our Island and enjoyed by so many people.

Steve Abbey's picture
Steve Abbey on January 7, 2006 - 22:20 Permalink

A colossal WASTE of taxpayer money? I think not! The revenue generated vs. spent I believe is about 8 to 1. Our yacht club sends about 20 to 30 vessels over for the festivities! We stay at Quartermaster Marina, exceptionally close to the venue and are not really bothered by the volume. Besides… the concerts are generally over by 11 pm, which is, I believe when the noise bylaw takes effect.

As a footnote… the average age of our boaters is 50.

Michelle Clark's picture
Michelle Clark on March 28, 2006 - 21:24 Permalink

I get angry every year at the few people who want to take away this event that happens only once a year. I realize that the concerts create crowds and noise, but they also provide great entertainment and revenues for downtown Charlottetown. For any of you who have moved to the waterfront area in the last few years, I don’t feel any symapthy for you…you knew what you were getting yourselves into. It’s 3 nights a year when all of the Maritimes comes together to celebrate and have fun. It’s not going to ruin the Island, it’s not taking over all the green space, it’s not hurting anyone. I think some people just need to suck it up and stop complaining about this issue.

Amanda's picture
Amanda on April 2, 2006 - 04:52 Permalink

I don’t live in PEI or Charlottetown if you are one for specifics. I am however from the mainland and I DO live in a fairly small area. I attend the Festival of Lights when I can, and I must say that if it was my city that was hosting them, I would be pretty friggin’ proud of it. Charlottetown and PEI are known for lots of wonderful things. So why not add another one to the list. What worries me more than noise and huge crowds is the fact that people can’t do much of anything anymore, without some whiner ruining it for everyone. Personally for all of the whiners…I am assuming that because all of you have homes that you have jobs…with jobs come vacation days…its not like you can’t take your vacation for the 5 days that the Festival is running…I’m pretty sure that the “tourismocrats” don’t just drop the date of the Festival on you like a bomb every year. it’s pretty much common knowledge when it is…maybe you should plan your life around the rest of the world instead of expecting everyone to plan theirs around you.

Tanya Kelly's picture
Tanya Kelly on May 24, 2006 - 16:42 Permalink

I am from a small village on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Every year we have a 5 day sailing regatta, and the village fills up with many, many boats and sailors. There is loud music from the bars in the downtown area until 2am, every night. The residents deal with this, as it has been going on for about 100 years. The reason they deal with it, is because the million dollar + revenue it brings into our town and the surrounding area. It keeps the people employed and in the area, rather than having to send our young, fresh minds away to find work. It keeps the village alive.

The Festival of Lights and the Jack Frost Winterfest are the same idea. They bring in millions of revenue dollars and spin offs, although they are very careful to abide by the noise bylaws, ending the concerts by 10pm every night. While this may not be as important to you, it is important to the many who depend on a sustained economy to survive. We are spending about $1500, which will all be directly injected into the Charlottetown economy. That’s two people.. how many others will be there, filling up the hotels, shopping, spending money that wouldn’t otherwise be spent there…

I would suggest that if you wanted to retire to a quiet cmmunity, then perhaps you should have retired somewhere other than the foremost tourist destination in Canada. If it is PEI, namely Charlottetown you love, then love it for ALL that it is, including the great festivals and celebrations of life.

As for Marcus’ comments.. we will be attending the Festival this year….with bells on…and we happen to love listening to the phenomenal music you listed, as well as the fresh acts listed this year.. we are the “rocking” kids you mentioned, but we are out of our chairs! I am 41 and my husband is 51! I can’t believe that you actually were able to “turn up your nose” in writing, at people like myself, who love this kind of music. I don’t turn up my nose at those that like the Zamfir and his magic pan flute…

Rock on Charlottetown!