Thousands attended Colwood’s Eats and Beats Saturday (July 30) making it a giant success for some, but drawing criticism from others concerned about the environmental impact on the event area.
Staff at the gate of the beach party estimated that more people showed up this year than in 2019, when around 8,000 people visited Ocean Boulevard during the event, according to City of Colwood spokesperson Sandra Russell.
Some residents are expressing concern about the impact the event could have on the opposite side of Ocean Boulevard though, where the Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary sits. A post sharing concerns about the noise, garbage and increased traffic near the lagoon was posted to the Colwood Community Association Facebook page on July 30 before it was deleted by a page admin.
Russell said park crews were doing a thorough clean of the beach Sunday morning. She added residents were “very respectful and conscientious” and that the activity was focused on the beach side of Ocean Boulevard, meaning the activity on the lagoon side wasn’t dissimilar to how it usually is, with the area a popular destination throughout the year.
“For these few hours on one day each year, bringing people together to paddle, float or splash in the ocean and relax in the sun on this popular beach while enjoying joyful music with fresh local food and beverages creates positive social connections, showcases talented local artists and supports local small businesses,” Russell said in an email.
Future events may be at a different location anyways, as the development of Royal Beach continues to progress. Colwood is currently working on a waterfront stewardship plan in consultation with residents, Indigenous stakeholders and other levels of government. The draft plan proposes a multi-use pathway from the Lagoon Bridge all the way to Royal Beach.
Russell said future events like Eats and Beats will likely move to Royal Beach as that area is developed.