‘All bets are off’ if raves lead to deaths, Edmonton councillor says

City council may face some tough decisions if injuries at electronic dance parties, or raves, become more serious. 

Last Friday, six people were taken to hospital from a Soundwave electronic dance party at West Edmonton Mall.

Initially, four were in serious and potentially life-threatening condition and two were in stable condition, Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson confirmed Thursday.

Coun. Scott McKeen believes the six people had taken hard drugs.

“If somebody dies at one of these things, all bets are off,” McKeen said of rave parties in the city

“City council would have no choice at that point but to turn Footloose on those guys. Shut ’em down.”

McKeen said rave operators have to step up and make the venues safer, citing the proliferation of dangerous drugs like fentanyl. 

Moratorium is a very blunt instrument– Mayor Don Iveson

“I want people to have fun and enjoy the night-time economy in Edmonton,” he said. “But nobody should be in critical condition because of that party.”

A recent city report said there is a need for “a comprehensive security, medical, and safety plan for events.”

The city’s electronic dance music events advisory committee met with venue operators, event producers, police and emergency medical services in July to explore ways to make the industry safer.

Mayor Don Iveson recognized the ongoing safety issues in the rave industry but said an extreme move like banning the parties wouldn’t work.

“Moratorium is a very blunt instrument for dealing with any kind of policy challenge,” Iveson said Thursday. “I think we’ve learned that we need to use finesse, not blunt instruments, to solve challenges here.”

The city got some backlash in June when a different report recommended an immediate ban. After hearing from promoters and disc jockeys, council instead asked for the report that was presented Wednesday at a meeting of the community and public services committee.

Although ready to shut down specific operators, McKeen agreed an industry-wide ban is not appropriate.

“The danger at any of these things is if you get too heavy-handed and [don’t] work with the industry, you drive it underground and that could actually be worse,” McKeen said.

“You could have people then who are in real danger from a drug overdose or something and nobody knows where that event is going on.” 

Mayor Don Iveson said if council tried to impose a ban on raves, they would be sure to hear from the public. (CBC)

Recognized electronic dance party producers in Edmonton include Boodang, Live Nation and Blueprint. WEM self-produces Soundwave.

The report made no clear recommendations but the committee will continue to discuss options to increase safety.

Options include a bylaw to regulate large-scale electronic dance music events on both public and private property, such as having operators submit applications for review before putting on the parties.

A final report, with recommendations, is expected early in 2019.


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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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