‘It’s disgusting’: Rock the Park attendees were frustrated by the misconceptions about water refill stations

Rock the Park-goers are frustrated that they can’t bring their own empty reusable water bottles onto the concert grounds, despite there being thirst stations.

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

“Most [concert venues] Just have them dump your bottle when you have something in it, walk through and refill it, but unfortunately they charge for it here,” said Tori Jones, who attended Thursday’s Harris Park concert.

Organizers had the City of London install water refill stations at the weekend’s music festival after being criticized for only offering bottled water that attendees had to buy.

Earlier this month, CBC reported that a 72-year-old volunteer who attended the event walked out in disgust after learning the only source of water would be bottled water, which sells for $5 a piece.

Counter at the front of the venue where guests can drop off their reusable water bottles for $5. (Submitted by Karyn Olsen)

It’s a real safety issue, said Jones and her friend Amy Pickering, both of whom are first aid trained.

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

Emma Dillon, who was at the concert on Wednesday, told CBC News that anyone wanting to buy water has to stand in the same line where they would buy alcoholic drink tickets.

“We saw a couple of food trucks there and everyone we asked 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 them to a refill station, Dillon said. “I just found it a bit off-putting.”

‘That’s rude’

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

Karyn Olsen, who attended Wednesday’s concert, also said there were no signs making 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, and it was really disappointing, she added.

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

After reading CBC’s original story, city council candidate Sam Trosow asked the city to lift the ban on bringing refillable water bottles to the event because the venue is a public space.

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

Getting people to empty their water bottles to prove they don’t contain alcohol or illegal substances makes perfect sense, but making people pay for water is ridiculous, Trosow said, comparing the protocol to what airports do at do security checks.

“If you go to an event that you know isn’t necessarily well prepared, you have to ask yourself why you would come back,” Jones said.

CBC News tried to contact the event’s organizers, Jones Entertainment Group, on Thursday, but they didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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