Our Position: Edmonton's Proposed Electronic Music Event Bylaw

On May 16th, City Of Edmonton administration released its final recommendations to City Council concerning new bylaws regulating large scale electronic music events (1500+ people) Link: May 22, 2019 CPSC Agenda Item 6.1. The report recommends the inclusion of harm reduction best practices at all large scale events, and for those practices to be regulated through the introduction of an EDM event licence that promoters must have in order to stage events.

Here is what is officially proposed:


This proposal is the result of a year-long process of consultation with electronic music industry insiders on what steps should be taken to help reduce the number of hospitalizations at large events.

The results of these discussions are a collection of harm reduction strategies and best practices that have already been largely adopted by large scale promoters to significant effect within the last year. Transports to hospitals, the metric which most concerned City Council in 2018, have dropped from a high of 4.67 on average per event (with a peak of 11 at one event), to an average of two per event (with a peak of six at one event).

It’s clear: when harm reduction is made a priority and supported by the city, EPS, and event promoters, attendees are safer and events experience fewer significant issues.

Significant improvement in number of hospital transports per event thanks to harm reduction strategies

Significant improvement in number of hospital transports per event thanks to harm reduction strategies

Numbers from 2017, an average of 4,56

Numbers from 2017, an average of 4,56

Numbers from 2106 - an average of 4.3 transports

Numbers from 2106 - an average of 4.3 transports

While the focus on harm reduction is a great step for the industry and city as a whole, proper implementation of the bylaw is key. We believe if the bylaw is implemented poorly or without concern for the realities faced by electronic music promoters, it could significantly impact these productions moving forward. These impacts could include the reduction in scale and frequency of these events occurring in Edmonton.

These are our recommendations for city council in how to implement this bylaw so as to not disrupt the industry and the feasibility of large scale electronic music events.

The licence should not be cost prohibitive.
Staging electronic music events, especially large ones, is a costly and, in turn, risky endeavour. Event promoters will rightly have to increase their expenditure on harm reduction services in order to comply with this bylaw. Adding undue costs to these events in the form of licences decreases the ability for organizations to produce them in a financially sustainable way. We hope the city places a nominal fee on the licence, but still holds applicants to a high standard in regard to harm reduction requirements.

Licence approval times should be quick, especially for event promoters with established track records for compliance and safety. The booking reality of large scale EDM events is more fast-paced than many people realize. Sometimes the viability and success of an entire event hinges on the successful booking of a headlining act and the quick turn around of event logistics. Things can move fast in the event industry and it’s vital the approval process be developed to match that speed. We believe that once event promoters demonstrate a consistent respect and understanding of harm reduction best practices, they should be able to receive their event licences quickly and efficiently.

Licence approvals should be able to be done far in advance of the event. Large scale EDM events are investments that can run into the millions of dollars. It’s important that event promoters are able to submit the required documents and plans for licence approval far in advance of the event, so they are not left in a situation where their event is potentially delayed or cancelled due to a slow or delayed permit. Should the city deny a licence, an event promoter should have the option to refine and improve their event plan with the guidance on best practices from the city for re-submission. Promoters who do not show adequate planning or following of best practices should reasonably be denied.

Survey Results: “Perceptions of Safety at Large-Scale Electronic Dance Music Events“

In addition to the bylaw recommendations, the city published the results of its survey, “Perceptions of Safety at Large-Scale Electronic Dance Music Events,” which was responded to by 2,240 people. You can read the survey breakdown here (click the Raves within the City of Edmonton – Final Report ) but we’d like to highlight some key findings from it.


It’s clear from this survey that attendees of these events do not perceive electronic music events of any size as dangerous. In fact, attendees of EDM events perceive them to be safer than non-EDM events.

One area that requires further study is this section:


All promoters would benefit from seeing this number broken down into separate stats for harassment, physical violence, unwanted sexual behaviour, and sexual harassment. We feel that step will offer much clearer insight into what steps must be taken to make events safer.

AEMCON 2018 Panel - From Rave Bans to Collaboration Panel

Photo by Concert Socks

Photo by Concert Socks

Last year at the conference we were honoured to host an incredible panel to discuss this very issue. We’re happy to present the full audio of the panel in the spirit of continuing the conversation about electronic music’s place in Canada’s culture care of CJSW 90.9FM.

Featuring Councillor Scott McKeen, Marcus Gurske, Nicole Poirier, Shelby Young

At National Music Centre, November 18th, 2018

For questions or comments, please email info@albertaelectronicmusic.com

If you are interested in attending the 2019 Alberta Electronic Music Conference, click here.