A citizen complained to the Ombudsman de Montréal so that Festiblues be moved to another borough: he no longer wanted to undergo the annoyance resulting thereof. He was alleging, among other things, the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities and, more particularly, the commitments therein to limit the irritants resulting from excessive noise and traffic.

The citizen was complaining of the noise during shows and sound tests, of the dirtiness of the site, of the presence of broken glass, of the behavior of the public attending the festival, of increased traffic as well as of the fact that, during an entire week, the residents of Arrondissement d’Ahuntsic–Cartierville were deprived from access to Parc Ahunstic.

We discussed this file with the Directeur d’arrondissement and representatives of the local police station as well as with members of the Board of directors of Festiblues. We also went on site, to visit Parc Ahuntsic.

Our investigation revealed that, since 2003, various measures had already been taken to reduce the irritants caused by this festival, for nearby citizens: speakers were reoriented in a direction opposite to the houses and noise measurements are regularly taken to ensure that the levels reached, during the shows, remain acceptable. No glass bottles are tolerated on the festival site: spectators’ bags are searched when they enter and all glass containers are immediately confiscated.

Festiblues lasts four days but two additional days are necessary for the set-up and the dismantling of the equipment. During this time, two thirds of the park is reserved to this activity, but the remaining third stays accessible at all times, for all citizens.

Festiblues was initiated by a team of social workers, working with the youth in the area. This “social economy” enterprise reserves a preponderant place to the youth and family. In addition to offering the opportunities of a musical contest to young artists, it allows teenagers and children of the district to participate in different activities adapted to their age.

Festiblues hires 150 youths of the borough, some having had a difficult path, and it offers them work experience, in a renowned professional setting.

The entrance fee is minimal but spectators are invited to make a donation. To this day, over $120,000 were so raised and given to local community organizations.

A survey conducted in 2005 with festival attendees confirmed that approximately 50% of the participants live in Arrondissement d’Ahuntsic–Cartierville.

The citizen alleged the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, but this Charter also contains a commitment to promote the assumption by citizens of their environment in view of eliminating poverty and social exclusion (section 18 e). There was, therefore, a need for us to balance this citizen’s rights and the rights of the community.

In light of all of the above and considering that the borough and the Festiblues managers have always collaborated extensively to limit, as much as possible, the irritants resulting from this festival, the Ombudsman de Montréal concluded that it was not appropriate for her to Recommend that this festival, which the citizens of the borough have an opportunity to attend at a minimal cost, be moved to another location.

As well as maintaining the improvements made since 2003, in the organization of the festival, the Ombudsman de Montréal has, however, obtained from the Festiblues administrators an additional commitment that, starting in 2006, the afternoon sound testing periods be shortened, which was done.

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