Bad behaviour prompts Calgarians to speak out about Country Thunder at Fort Calgary

Some area residents and businesses say more should be done outside of the venue to curb some of the issues

By Krista Sylvester | August 24, 2022 |5:00 am

Despite this city sign asking people not to urinate on the lawn, area residents and businesses reported many instances of concertgoers doing just that.

Photo: Submitted

Urinating and defecating on lawns, illegal parking, noise, and garbage. 

Those are some of the concerns some residents and businesses are sharing in the aftermath of the Country Thunder music festival last weekend, which moved to Fort Calgary for the first time and sold out with 25,000 attendees. 

Glen Schrader and his wife have lived near Fort Calgary for over a decade. He says the trouble started on Friday during the first day of the festival and escalated from there, culminating in an incident involving a party bus. 

“Friday night was mainly people disobeying the permit parking area in our back lane,” he explains, adding they sat on their porch when the concert let out just to make sure nobody did anything nefarious. 

Bad behaviour all around 

But things escalated over the weekend, ending with Schrader having a run-in with a group of people on a party bus who unloaded to urinate on the lawns, prompting him to ask the bus driver for their information. 

“They were drinking beforehand and couldn’t wait to get into the venue where the porta-potties were, I guess, so they just went there,” he says, adding they believe the concert organizers should be more responsible for things happening outside of the gate. 

“It really should be up to the concert organizers to provide more outside of the perimeter of the venue. There is a city sign (that says not to urinate on the grass) but really, there should be porta-potties outside of the venue.” 

He says other events have taken place at Fort Calgary without issue, but this event had many people partying on their way out, leaving garbage and bottles behind. 

Area businesses also had issues 

Business owner Erin, who asked to withhold her last name, agrees that there should be more porta-potties and garbage cans set up outside of the fence at the responsibility of the concert organizers. 

Her business, located near Fort Calgary, faced many disruptions over the three-day festival, and she says there seemed to be a “weird energy” about this particular crowd. 

From rowdy noise to left-behind garbage and bottles and illegal parking, Erin says the behaviour she witnessed over the weekend was nothing short of disruptive. 

“The Deane House is there and the amount of men I watched urinate on those trees was just astounding. There’s a wedding happening. It’s like, you guys are so disrespectful,” she says. 

“It makes me feel like the organizer should have put porta-potties outside the venue if it was about that.” 

Garbage everywhere 

And then there was the trash. 

“When I got to work on Saturday morning, there was just garbage everywhere,” Erin says. “There were lemonade cups and alcohol containers. And then Sunday, I walked from Studio Bell into Inglewood, and just seeing the amount of trash was absolutely staggering.”

She says organizers should have provided more infrastructure such as garbage cans outside of the venue and the porta-potties — though she admits that wouldn’t curb all of the bad behaviour. 

“We had people blocking the front entrance to our business and smoking cigarettes at the front door. People coming into the business demanding to use the bathroom. The amount of people running into traffic, the amount of people urinating. People just weren’t being respectful.” 

Concerns were heard loud and clear 

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong told Calgary Citizen he heard many complaints from area residents and says the city will be discussing the issues of the event with organizers. 

“I personally spoke to the organizers on Friday before it started. We talked about not only the success of the Country Thunder, but if you want to come back in the future, and if you want to get our support,” Wong says. 

“We said we will give you support if you can demonstrate that the event was successful and if we are comfortable with it. So, now that we’re at a stage of doing a debrief, we’ll have a conversation with the music organizers later to say ‘here’s some things you could be improving.’”

Under review 

Wong says the city will be reviewing the issues such as how people get in and out of the venue. 

“How are they behaving? What can we do, or do we plan for the issues of both urinating, defecating, and even garbage left behind? Creating some property damage? Those are situations where we’re trying to understand … so we don’t have that repeated again.” 

Ward 9 Coun. Gian Carlo-Carra was responding to complaints via Twitter, saying: “Thanks for letting me know about this. We’re gearing up our Eventful City policy and considering what and what not to fund going into the next 4yr budget. #yyccc also approved pilot funding this summer for event-adjacent hoods. We’ll be reviewing what worked & what didn’t this fall.”

We reached out to the organizers of Country Thunder for this story but didn’t hear back as of press time.

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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