The City of Sydney and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras announced today that the long-awaited Fair Day event in Victoria Park will be cancelled.
Bonded asbestos was detected in the park on Monday after the Environment Protection Authority urged Sydney City Council to test possibly contaminated mulch found in many other parks around Sydney.
The City of Sydney and Mardi Gras have desperately tried to clean up affected areas while setting up a stage for concerts and market stalls for Sunday’s Fair Day over the past two days.
A further investigation into the asbestos levels halted all plans as it revealed that it was unsafe to hold an event of the magnitude of Fair Day, where more than 70,000 people were expected.
The city and Sydney Mardi Gras will continue to work together to deliver other events throughout the 17-day festival.
One of the most anticipated events during Sydney’s Mardi Gras, Fair Day (pictured, 2014), was canceled after asbestos was found stuck in mulch in Victoria Park.
Sydney Mayor Clover Moore AO said: “This is an incredibly disappointing decision as Fair Day is a vital part of the Mardi Gras calendar.” But we have to put the safety of our community first.
‘We will continue to work with Mardi Gras once the asbestos issue is resolved. Today’s decision underlines how serious this is.
“The NSW Government and the EPA must ensure this never happens again.”
Fair Day is one of the “most beloved events” during the Mardi Gras festivities and more than 70,000 people were expected to attend, according to Mardi Gras executive director Gil Beckwith.
“It breaks our hearts to see this Sunday not taking place, but given safety concerns, we must put the wellbeing of our communities first,” Ms Beckwith said.
“This cancellation is a setback, but it presents us with an opportunity to come together and support each other more strongly.”
Fair Day attracts around 70,000 people each year and features numerous market stalls and musical performances throughout the day (pictured, Fair Day 2023)
Victoria Park (pictured) is the latest in Sydney where asbestos has been detected in contaminated mulch across Sydney.
Beckwith said the remaining events will go ahead as planned to “welcome and celebrate with our community.”
‘Oxtravaganza on February 24 is a free community event highlighting our local Gaybourhood businesses, many of whom were taking part in Fair Day; and festival highlights, including the Bondi Beach Party, Parade and Mardi Gras Party, will not be affected,” he said.
Sydney parks have been tested for the carcinogenic chemical after it was first detected in Rozelle Park in Sydney’s inner west.
Sydney City Council quickly closed 32 parks it fears may also have been contaminated, with asbestos testing expected to take several weeks.
Asbestos has also been found in Belmore Park in Haymarket, Harmony Park in Surry Hills and even at the site of the Parramatta light rail project in western Sydney.
More to come.