Mardi Gras Fair Day scrapped after asbestos discovery

Mardi Gras Fair Day scrapped after asbestos discovery
Image: Mardi Gras Fair Day 2023. Photo: Mark Dickson.



Days after dangerous bonded asbestos was found in the mulch at Victoria Park in Broadway, the City of Sydney and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras cancelled Fair Day, scheduled to be held on Sunday, February 18.

“This is an incredibly disappointing decision, as Fair Day is a pivotal part of the Mardi Gras calendar. But we have to put the safety of our community first,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said in a statement. “We will continue to work with Mardi Gras once the asbestos issue is resolved”.

Fair Day kicks off the Mardi Gras festivities and sees over 70,000 people attending the event annually.

Fair Day Will Not Be Rescheduled

“It breaks our heart to see this Sunday not go ahead, but given the safety concerns we must put our communities’ wellbeing first,” said Mardi Gras CEO Gil Beckwith said:

According to Mardi Gras, while Fair Day will not be rescheduled, other events including the Mardi Gras Pride parade will go ahead as per schedule.

“This cancellation is a setback, however, it presents us with an opportunity to unite and support one another more strongly. The rest of our festival continues unchanged, offering many chances over the 17 days for our communities to come together in celebration and solidarity,” said Beckwith.

“Our festival is still bursting with events ready to welcome and celebrate with our community. Oxtravaganza on February 24 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,” Beckwith added.

Clean Up Efforts

Earlier this week, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) had alerted about possible asbestos contamination in the mulch at Parks in Sydney.

Highly hazardous friable asbestos was found in the mulch at Harmony Park in Surry Hills, while dangerous bonded asbestos was found in Victoria Park and Belmore Park.

The City of Sydney said it was working with Mardi Gras to coordinate cleanup efforts at Victoria Park, but a more detailed investigation led it to conclude it would be unable to proceed with the event.

“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,” said Moore.

Decision Will Impact Small Businesses

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association (SGLBA) said while it understood the decision to cancel Fair Day over health concerns, it was disappointed the event was called off instead of holding it at another venue.

“This is a disappointing outcome for Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community and will undoubtedly impact many small businesses that were supporting Mardi Gras and Fair Day,” SGLBA said in a statement.

“We are disappointed that an alternate location or date couldn’t be identified to minimise the costs to small businesses and other community organisations involved with Fair Day.”
The SGLBA urged Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the City of Sydney and the NSW Government to “make all efforts to minimise the impact and costs on small businesses and community organisations as a result of this decision.”

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