Edmonton festivals need space as Churchill Square partially closes
City is recommending to fund three major events to cover relocation costs
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Taste of Edmonton is urgently looking for temporary digs for 2018 as Churchill Square gets set to undergo major renovations that will temporarily displace several festivals.
City administration recommended Thursday that a combined $372,500 be given to Taste of Edmonton, the Works Art and Design Festival and the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival to pay for relocation costs (utilities, facility rental fees, temporary infrastructure and additional staff) for one year.
The popular downtown gathering space will be partially closed from September this year to about April 2019 for renovations and LRT construction, meaning events will have to move.
“It’s been stressful for use to find a new location,” said Paul Lucas, general manager with Events Edmonton, which runs Taste of Edmonton. “If anything, we’ve run up against a lot of roadblocks for locations.”
Lucas said the festival organizers need to find space for 48 restaurants that need running water and power, as well as 18 food trucks and a stage.
“Finding a place big enough for all of that, for one, is challenging,” he said, noting organizers would like a place downtown.
“We’d like a location that will support the city’s downtown lunchtime crowd.”
As for the other organizations, Works is looking to relocate to the Legislature's Capital Plaza in 2018 while Street Performers will move over to Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park, off Whyte Avenue.
Roger Jevne, branch manager with community and recreation facilities, said festival organizers understand they need to move out of the square.
“Everyone is doing their best trying to accommodate the change,” he said. “They will come back in 2019 in good shape.”
If city councillors indicate they’re willing to commit to those funds during a committee meeting Monday, administration will prepare a formal budget ask this fall.