Has it become a victim of its own success? That’s one conclusion being mentioned about the Winter Magic Festival, which has been cancelled for this year.
Marina Brown, who was the festival’s sustainability co-ordinator for 2013-16 and successfully introduced the “rubbish rooms” to reduce the amount of garbage going to landfill, believes that it has become too big.
“Many locals I speak to do not even attend the festival any more because it has too many people,” she said.
“The rubbish situation continues to be appalling. It is simply too enormous to manage that amount of waste sustainably without proper staffing.”
She said she worked with “an amazing and dedicated crew” and that the team should be paid “for at least some of their time as the workload is huge”.
Festival costs have increased massively, with the bill for traffic management alone up to $70,000.
Ms Brown pointed out: “The cost of running a festival of this magnitude means it makes it unmanageable unless you have a bunch of high-priced stalls selling imported wares and selling food and drink in wasteful packaging.”
Bob Kemnitz, who played a major role in the first 14 festivals and is still involved in a minor way, said he felt the parade should be restricted to solstice-themed costumes only, which would reduce the numbers.
The other issue was the decision to annex a short section of Main Street, “thus interrupting the preferred and signposted vehicular route to Echo Point and destinations east and west thereof”.
“The result is a complicated truncation of well known roads, which requires workers to direct vehicular traffic all day at a cost of $70,000, and occasioning extensive delays in both directions of the Great Western Highway.”
He also referred to recent security requirements, such as expensive water-filled barriers, imposed by local area command police in response to terrorism incidents overseas.
“Instead of an authoritative federal government directive on the matter, ad hoc arrangements are sanctioned at the local level, increasing costs,” Mr Kemnitz said.