Charlottetown resident Katie McInnis vents her anger and frustration at the problems associated with the Festival of the Lights during a meeting Tuesday.
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CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island’s latest tourism campaign promotes Canada’s smallest province as "the gentle island."
But that bucolic image stands in sharp contrast to the boorish behaviour witnessed earlier this month during Charlottetown’s Festival of Lights, which saw a downtown neighbourhood beset by rowdy revellers openly having sex, drinking, defecating, vomiting and committing acts of vandalism.
HA HA HA HA HA...... Wooo hoooo.... and my sister said it was boring there.... what a lie.
The city’s mayor, Clifford Lee, apologized to residents when 70 people packed the council chamber to vent their anger and frustration over the three-day festival.
"I really think that I and city council owe all of you an apology because we have failed," Lee said Tuesday. "We have failed miserably in addressing your concerns."
The annual Canada Day festival, billed as Canada’s largest birthday celebration east of Ottawa, featured a series of rock concerts on Charlottetown’s historic waterfront.
The festival drew about 14,000 visitors on each of its three nights.
King Street resident Jack LeClair said the event has grown from a "very gentle affair" to an extremely rowdy one.
"Now it has turned into this monster," he said. "It’s not about families and children. It’s about young people getting drunk. . . . If they want to come to the festival of fights and come puke on our Island, that’s what we are projecting. I’m just saying, rethink it."
Police said they responded to 12 reported assaults during the event and 75 liquor-related charges were laid.
Rev. Scott MacIsaac, chaplain at Sleepy Hollow Correctional Centre, said the festival has become an embarrassment.
"This event this year and the other years that I have seen it has caused significant harm," he said. "Harm of safety, harm of property, harm of reputation to the city of Charlottetown."
He said he and his family had to leave the festival site on the Saturday because of the drunks and "crack-heads" he encountered.
MacIsaac said the festival should be organized by a professional production company and not Tourism Charlottetown.
Many at the meeting asked to have the concert venue moved out of the downtown.
Others said the event should not be held on Canada Day, suggesting the holiday should instead be reserved for a quiet family event at Victoria Park.
But Linda Fitzgerald warned that moving the event would do little to curb the loutish behaviour of those attending.
"We still need to be, as a community, concerned about our young people," she said.
Area resident John Rankin said the city had to take action.
"There is a time and place for everything and you are way out of control now," he said. "You have to show leadership."
Carlo Kennedy was more blunt with council.
"It appears as if you people don’t care," she said. "It appears as if the almighty dollar has become your god and is somehow dictating what you do instead of the people who elected you."