Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jul 2005
Source: Banner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 The Orangeville Banner
Author: Adam Hobbs
Bookmark: (Raves)


Dear Editor,

I am the director of the non-profit medical responder service that provided 
coverage to the World Electronic Music Festival, July 8 to 10. I am writing 
in regard to the article, Raving mad about dance fest and the editorial 
comment, Event caused much damage (The Banner, July 15).

I have been working at these kinds of events for the past five years. While 
I'm appalled at the incidents you mentioned, as are the event's organizers 
and any patrons that know about them, the statistics have to be put into 
context. There were five very stupid individuals among 5,000 decent people 
who just came to have a good time and leave peacefully. What's more, many 
of those things have never before happened at a WEMF. Could you bring 
together even a third of that many spectators to something like a tractor 
pull, with a bar for one night and not have any issues of this nature?

On an early excursion around the agricultural society's property, one of 
the staff there told me that some of the local youth use the grounds "as 
they please" (referring to driving around, loitering etc.) and do not ask 
anyone's permission.

He was shocked that I identified myself and asked to go through the site. 
Since I have yet to deal with an IV drug user at a rave, I would suggest to 
you that any accusation regarding needles being found is either completely 
false or is in fact the property of some of those same locals. Further, is 
joy riding something that never happens in Orangeville? I think the OPP 
might disagree.

You have no idea how upset the other event attendees are about this matter. 
It's all over the Internet now and everyone wants the name of the person 
responsible to ban them permanently from any event, anywhere. I can assure 
you ravers don't like people who behave that way any more than your readers 
do. I noticed however that no mention was made of the measures that WEMF 
organizers took to provide a vehicle for the victim of the theft.

It does WEMF and its supporters absolutely no good to alienate or upset the 
local population so why would they do so intentionally? Every patron I 
spoke to was very excited and grateful to be at Orangeville Fairgrounds. 
This was by far one of the best venues for this kind of event. Plenty of 
room and fantastic buildings to house the sound stages. They were full of 
very positive things to say. I think if you look at what WEMF organizers 
have tried to do with this event, the planning and hard work behind it, you 
will see it is far safer and better laid out than most other large music 
events (electronic, rock or otherwise) anywhere in North America. The OPP 
and others were happy for the event to go ahead because of the precautions 
that were taken.

And don't discount the positive impact on the local economy! The attendees, 
many from the U.S. and other parts of Canada, are bringing new money to the 
area. They have no other reason for being anywhere near Orangeville except 
WEMF. How much money? Five thousand people buying gas, ice, food, camping 
supplies, etc. Even the local Tim Hortons was pretty much cleared of 
inventory at a WEMF a couple of years ago. What about overtime hours for 
your local OPP? They were paid for by the event itself. All this just means 
more dollars coming through into local business.

Disturbances at previous events? Last year there was apparently only one 
noise complaint. One! I couldn't even have a late evening barbecue in my 
neighbourhood without at least one complaint. Obviously, the aim is always 
none. Maybe if WEMF had a permanent home, there would be an incentive to 
find creative ways to reduce any noise bleed from the venue. This is 
something that could be monitored closely and regulated. And for the 
record, the music stopped very early Sunday morning. I know because I was 
there until 3 p.m. that afternoon.

For our part, my team is responsible for caring for anyone that is ill or 
injured on site. Any serious cases are sent to hospital. The only ambulance 
transport that left the festival was actually an Orangeville man in his 
late 20s. He injured himself accidentally and was sent as a precaution 
only. And he was the only one. Surely if the event was so out of control 
with drugs and alcohol, there would have been ambulances lined up along 
Fifth Sideroad. They were not.

Why doesn't your publication try to bring the many sides on this issue 
together to find common ground instead of propagating mistrust and anger? 
If WEMF doesn't come back to Orangeville next year, nobody wins.

Adam Hobbs, Emergency Medical Responders
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