‘It’s offputting’: Attendees at Rock the Park frustrated at miscommunication about water refill stations

Attendees at Rock the Park are expressing frustration at not being able to bring their own empty reusable water bottles inside the concert grounds despite thirst stations being available.

Instead, they have to purchase a $5 water bottle, which can be refilled for free at the station throughout the night. If they bring reusable bottles, they need to check them with their bags, also for the price of $5, concert security told CBC News at the venue.

“Most [concert venues] just let you dump your bottle if you got something in it, walk through and refill it, but unfortunately here they’re charging for it,” said Tori Jones, who was at the concert at Harris Park on Thursday.

Organizers had water refill stations installed by the city of London at the weekend music festival after they were criticized for only offering water bottles that attendees had to buy.

Earlier this month, the CBC reported that a 72-year-old volunteer with the event quit in disgust after learning that the only source of water would be bottled water sold at $5 each.

Desk at the front of the venue where guests can check in their reusable water bottles for $5. (Submitted by Karyn Olsen)

It’s a genuine safety concern, said Jones and her friend Amy Pickering, who are both trained in First Aid.

“I’d much rather come to an event where I’m safe and not have to worry about my surroundings,” she said. “It puts pressure on us when we see something [happening]we’re now responsible, too, so it ruins our night as well.”

Emma Dillon who was at the concert on Wednesday told CBC News that anyone looking to purchase water had to stand in the same line where they’d buy drink tickets for alcoholic beverages.

“We saw a bunch of food trucks there and everyone we went to ask if they sold water, the answer was no. There was only one place to get water,” she said.

A glass of tap water was also not available from any of the vendors and no one directed her to a refill station, Dillon said. “I just found it a little offputting.”

‘This is outrageous’

Attendees had to get rid of their outside food and beverages before entering the concert. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Karyn Olsen who attended the concert on Wednesday also said there were no signs that made it clear where the water stations were. Olsen didn’t drink any water at the event and waited until she got home, she said.

Olsen brought her own empty reusable water bottle which she wasn’t allowed to bring in, and it was really disappointing, she added.

“It was just really shocking and sad, There’s an environmental issue, too, when they sell bottles that everyone recycles at the end of the night when we all could’ve just brought our own,” she said.

After reading CBC’s initial story, city council candidate Sam Trosow called on the City to override the ban on bringing refillable water bottles to the event since the venue is a public space.

“This is outrageous and against the spirit of a public park to have people have to leave their bottles in the check area. That’s the worst type of profiteering,” he said.

Making people empty out their water bottles to provide there’s no alcohol or illicit substances in them makes total sense, but making people pay for water is ridiculous, Trosow said, comparing the protocol to what airports do during security checks.

“When you go to an event that you know isn’t necessarily prepared to its max, you have to then question why you would come back,” Jones said.

CBC News attempted to contact the event’s organizers, the Jones Entertainment Group on Thursday, but they did not respond to requests for comment.

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