Mardi Gras Fair Day is cancelled by the City of Sydney

Mardi Gras Fair Day is cancelled by the City of Sydney
Mardi Gras Fair Day is cancelled by the City of Sydney

The City of Sydney and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras today announced that the highly anticipated Fair Day event will be cancelled.

Bonded asbestos was detected in the venue for the event, Victoria Park near Sydney’s Broadway, on Monday after the NSW Environment Protection Authority prompted the City of Sydney Council to test possibly contaminated mulch found in numerous other parks around Sydney.

In the days since, City of Sydney and Mardi Gras staff tried desperately to clean affected areas while assembling a concert stage and market stalls for Sunday’s Fair Day.

A more detailed investigation into the asbestos levels halted all plans as it revealed that an event on the scale of Fair Day, with over 70,000 people expected to attend, was unsafe to go ahead.

The two organisations will continue to work together to deliver other events over the 17 days of the festival.

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore AO described the decision to cancel the event was ‘incredibly disappointing’.

‘Fair Day is a pivotal part of the Mardi Gras calendar. But we have to put the safety of our community first,’ Ms Moore said.

‘We will continue to work with Mardi Gras once the asbestos issue is resolved. Today’s decision underscores how serious this is. 

‘The NSW Government and the EPA must make sure this never happens again.’

Fair Day is one of the ‘most loved events’ during Mardi Gras festivities, according to Mardi Gras CEO Gil Beckwith. 

‘It breaks our heart to see this Sunday not go ahead, but given the safety concerns we must put our community’s wellbeing first,’ Ms Beckwith said.

‘This cancellation is a setback, however it presents us with an opportunity to unite and support one another more strongly.’

Ms Beckwith said the remaining Mardi Gras events will go ahead as planned for those ‘ready to welcome and celebrate with our community’.  

‘Oxtravaganza on 24 February is a free community event that shines a spotlight on our local Gaybourhood businesses, many of which were set to participate in Fair Day; and festival highlights, including Bondi Beach Party, Parade and Mardi Gras Party, remain unaffected,’ she said.

Inner-West Council Mayor, Darcy Byrne, has offered to make a parkland ‘available at short notice to ensure the event can proceed this Sunday’.

However the event appears to be cancelled after Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras said they won’t be able to organise a replacement on such short notice.

‘We appreciate all the offers we’ve received to host Fair Day in other parks and venues,’ Ms Beckwith told Daily Mail Australia. 

‘However, putting on an event the size of Fair Day takes many months of planning, logistics and coordinating of stakeholders – something that is just not possible to arrange during the next few days.’

Fair Day attracts about 70,000 people every year and features numerous market stalls and musical performances during the day (pictured, Fair Day 2023)
Victoria Park (pictured) is one of a number of Sydney parks to have asbestos detected in contaminated mulch

Parks throughout Sydney have undergone testing for the carcinogenic chemical after it was first detected at Rozelle Park, in Sydney’s inner-west.

The City of Sydney Council fears 32 parks could also have been contaminated, all of which will undergo testing for asbestos in a process expected to take several weeks.

‘The City of Sydney shares the community’s concerns this contaminated product has been supplied to us,’ a statement from the council reads.

‘Our focus right now is on safety and identifying the sites where there may be contaminated mulch product.’

Bonded asbestos has been identified at Belmore Park in Haymarket while a more harmful form, friable asbestos, was found in Harmony Park in Surry Hills. 

Breathing in the chemical can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

The risk of contracting any of the deadly diseases increases with the number of fibres inhaled.

What parks City of Sydney fear could contain mulch contaminated with asbestos: 

Locals have been urged to avoid mulched garden beds and areas under trees in the below parks. 

Arcadia Park, Forest Lodge

AV Henry Reserve, Forest Lodge

Bicentennial Park 1, Glebe

Bicentennial Park 2, Glebe

Blackwattle Bay Park, Glebe

Chippendale Green, Chippendale

Clyne Reserve, Millers Point

Cook & Phillip Park, Sydney

Creek Street Reserve, Forest Lodge

Dr H J Foley Rest Park, Glebe

Frog Hollow Reserve, Surry Hills

Giba Park, Pyrmont

Harold Park, Forest Lodge

James Watkinson Reserve, Pyrmont

John Street Reserve, Glebe

Jubilee Park, Glebe

Larkin Street Park, Camperdown

Minogue Reserve, Glebe

Munn Reserve, Millers Point

Observatory Hill Park, Millers Point

Orphan School Creek, Forest Lodge

Paradise Reserve, Pyrmont

Pirrama Park, Pyrmont

Pottinger Park West, Dawes Point

Quarry St Streetscape & Steps, Ultimo

Robyn Kemmis Reserve, Glebe

Seamer Street Reserve, Glebe

St James Park, Glebe

Stewart Street Glebe Reserve, Glebe

Toxteth Park, Glebe

Wentworth Park, Ultimo

Wood Street Playground, Forest Lodge

New South WalesSydney

Source: dailymail.co.uk

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