The water bottle fiasco of Rock the Park

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Lady A perform at Rock the Park, 2017.

A contentious debate has been taking place in London after news spread of a water rule at this year’s Rock the Park music festival.

Rock the Park is a four-day music festival that takes place at the Harris Park in London, put on by the Jones Entertainment Group (JEG). This year, JEG will be hosting Rock the Park between July 13 to the 17, with a strong line-up of talented artists. As the majority of places in London have lifted COVID restrictions, civilians are excited to take part in this years’ event. However, there were concerns with the outside food and beverage ban that caught the attention of city councillor candidate and associate professor at Western University, Samuel Trosow.

On June 30, the CBC published an article in regards to a 72-year-old Rock the Park volunteer who resigned due to the rule that water at Rock the Park would cost $5 per bottle, with no outside water bottles allowed into the event, or refill stations on site. It was at that time that Trosow released a statement calling on the city to address the problem. CFPL 980 then later reported that a request had been submitted to the city from the event organizers for a water station for attendees to refill their bottles.

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Trosow expressed the importance of access to water at an event on city property. “Water is a fundamental right and a fundamental health and safety amenity,” Trosow said. “That should go without saying, it should be at an event in the park.” Trosow said that there have been high temperatures recently due to the ongoing climate emergency, some of which were record breaking. With that being said, limited access to water is cause for concern in terms of heat stroke, dehydration or worse. “Even if there wasn’t a climate emergency, I would still be concerned about packing so many people into a closed space without water, but the heat I think is an aggravating factor,” Trosow said.

Trosow added that he was very surprised when he heard of this situation. He acknowledged that the city has done a good job in terms of promoting fresh water from thirstations. “I think it’s curious that the city wasn’t more forthcoming in coming out with a statement and that none of the councillors had anything to say about it,” Trosow said. He acknowledged that the city shouldn’t be tolerating this from a user of the park and that if he was a councillor, this is something that he would be talking about. “I’m troubled that the city did not respond quickly, I’m troubled that the city did not issue a statement saying, ‘yes you have to have these.’”

As Rock the Park is a private event, there is little the city could do to mandate water refill stations, and the city has still yet to release an official statement on the matter.

To conclude, Trosow expressed his appreciation towards Helen Riorden, the resigned volunteer, for bringing this situation to light and to all the news outlets that are amplifying the situation. As the event organizers have put in a request for water refill stations at the Rock the Park event, this will be an ongoing conversation, as it still unclear whether or not one will be deployed at Harris Park.