City Council to Consider Changes to Special Events Policy
Events taking place at city-owned facilities or receiving support from the city are about to be managed by a revised policy.
Just before the current council was sworn into office, city staff were asked to review the existing Special Events Policy. The motion (Stroud/Holland, Carried 13-0) was looking for ways to set criteria for event size, park usage, significant logistical needs, more equitably distribute events, maintain park access, and minimize neighbourhood disruptions. Council asked staff to bring the motion back to the Arts, Recreation and Community Policies Committee.
Staff, lead by the Recreation and Leisure department, created an online discussion forum for feedback, lead an in-person and online focus group discussion, and promoted the potential policy change through its communication channels to solicit feedback. Primary topics discussed were around access to events (including accessibility, parking, location and amenities), frequency of events, and the prioritization of events. In all, 35 people requested to receive updates on the process, and a combined 32 participated in the focus groups.
Under the proposed revised policy, events will now be placed into one of three categories:
- Special Events: One time or recurring events with an expected attendance of less than 500. These events should need minimal or cause no disruption to municipal resources, have their own on-site parking plan, and could take place at any park.
- Large Scale Events One time or recurring events with an attendance estimated at 500 to 5,000 people per day, may take place at multiple venues, parks or roads, may require some disruption or use of city resources with appropriate charge backs, include both on-site and off-site parking plans, and can only take place at regional or City-wide parks.
- Mega Events: These events aren’t likely to recur and bring an anticipated more than 5,000 people per day. The city anticipates these would be at multiple venues (or new venues), cause significant disruption or use of services (with charge backs), significant parking planning, and can only take place at Regional parks.
In completing this policy, the city divided the parks into sites suitable for large scale and mega events. Only five were selected for mega events: the regional parks of Grass Creek Park and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, and City-Wide parks of Confederation Park, Kingston Memorial Centre, and Lake Ontario Park. A further 10 parks (regional and city-wide) were selected to be able to host large scale events.
New to the proposed policy is also a park resting period. Parks hosting large scale events are being limited to one per week, and five total between Victoria Day weekend and Thanksgiving weekend. Staff is also hoping to allow for 10 days between each event and may limit park usage based on conditions. Parks hosting a mega event are limited to one of these per year with a resting period of 30 days.
There’s also specific park exemptions in place, allowing some already established events larger than would be allowed to continue, allowing for reduced resting for some established events, and allowing usage for some areas to be guided under additional policies (such as sports field sites and ice rinks).
The revised policy was approved by the Arts, Recreation and Community Policies Committee at its most recent meeting and will be discussed next by the entirety of City Council on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. For more information and to see the feedback the city received, you can visit the website dedicated to the revision. The draft policy is included with the agenda for the May 8 council meeting.
Born and raised in Kingston, Tommy Vallier bleeds limestone. An avid council watcher since 2004, he first began reporting on municipal affairs in 2011, helping to modernize meetings and make them more accessible through social media and live video. When he isn’t focused on City Hall, he’s an avid gamer, theatre supporter, and Disney fan.