Red Bull Crashed Ice – When Your Front Porch is My Party

Red Bull Crashed Ice – When Your Front Porch is My Party

by Farnell Morisset

Rumour has it there are actually people who live in the Vieux Québec – year round.  At the end of a long day at work, they go back to their homes in the streets of the walled city and – I am told – do perfectly normal things like cook dinner and watch TV.  Some people even work there, too.  It boggles the mind to those of us used to thinking of Old City residents as living in hotels and travelling by tour bus.

However, it makes it fairly predictable that some complaints would crop up every now and then regarding how the rest of the city uses their neighbourhood as the de facto designated party zone.  The latest of these frictions surround the now annual Red Bull Crashed Ice.  The event is annual, and so are the frictions.

There Are Frictions

While most of us know the Crashed Ice as a major sporting event drawing in tens of thousands of people for the March 19th finals, local residents know it better as 5 weeks of construction and blocked off roads which go from the Chateau Frontenac and follow Côte de la Montagne through Place Royal and ending on Dalhousie (a not insignificant portion of the walled interior).  So much for afternoon naps and late morning lattés during the construction of this snaking plywood-and-ice monstrosity, and any attempt to navigate through with a car are comparable to the effects of impromptu winter maintenance on the Pont Pierre-Laporte.  What is to most of us a night of caffeine-fuelled winter fun is to them a major living nuisance for over a month.

But let’s face it… residents and business owners aren’t living and working there for the low rent or modern buildings, and major events within the walls have been happening for generations.  I find it very hard to believe the excitement and glamour of the Vieux was not an important factor in their choice of living quarters and shop placements – especially along Côte de la Montagne, which is one of the most tourist-heavy streets of the Vieux.  I might find their complaints justified if the Crashed Icers were skating down more out-of-the-way streets like St-Flavien or Ferland, since someone who opts to live there could realistically expect some degree of calm year-round (honestly, before I looked them up, even I didn’t know where they were).  Côte de la Montagne, however, is featured prominently in just about every festival, party, and event within the walls.

Baffling Complaints

This becomes increasingly baffling when you listen to the complaints of some of the owners of various stores, boutiques, shops, and restaurants in the area who have recently begun asking for compensation from the city for their lost revenue during this time.  Apparently, drawing in hundreds of thousands of tourists annually through the prestige and visibility brought by these events is hurting their income.  While I certainly am willing to believe their reports of lost revenue during the peak of the event, even they must realise that their complaints are terribly near-sighted.

So yes, while I do agree we are using their neighbourhood as our collective cultural party pad, it’s rather unfair to ask for compensation.  Locals and business owners knew what they were getting into – and all the glamour and pizazz is exactly what drew them there in the first place.  They benefit directly from the additional social and touristic interest.  Most importantly, while we all may use their front porches as a social convection oven, this is done through massive investments from the city – and therefore from our tax dollars – in the first place.  That should be all the compensation they need.

Photo courtesy of Farnell Morisset

About the author:

Born and raised in Québec City, Farnell Morisset attended English school throughout his primary, secondary, and CEGEP studies, before ultimately choosing to stay in Québec City and study civil engineering at Laval University.

While at Laval, he served as president of the civil engineering student association. It was there that he discovered his affinity for writing and commentary, preparing a weekly column in the student newspaper dealing with the issues he, as president of the association, felt were important and relevant.

Farnell is passionate about discussing (amongst other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québecois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québecois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image.

He is also alarmed by what seems to be an invasive and aggressive polarization of complex social issues for which there are no black-and-white answers. This eventual identity crisis, he feels, will only be solved through good faith in, and honest communication with, all sides pulling on our ever dwindling “pure laine” blanket.

It is with this in mind that he contributes to as a valued member of our, in-house, writing team.

Categories: News

About Author

Farnell Morisset

Farnell Morisset has an engineering degree from Université Laval and common law and civil law degrees from McGill University, where he also studied economics.