Mayor Don Iveson is frustrated and left “scratching his head” after learning the city administration has handed Heritage Festival organizers an eviction notice to empty out their storage barn.

“I’m not getting the sense that the City of Edmonton is being all that helpful. And that pisses me off. As mayor, I’m pissed off. I’m not happy,” Iveson said.

The non-profit built the barn in 1986 and has been using it ever since to store tents, electrical equipment, freezers and all the necessities for setting up the popular festival.

“Volunteers and a small number of staff put it on every year. We should be making their lives easier, not making their lives harder.

“There have been a number of head-scratching decisions by administration, which I think needs a kick in the rear end and a reminder that we’re here to serve Edmontonians,” he said.

The city called for a late afternoon press conference Thursday.

“I’d really like to thank the mayor for reminding us in a very public way of our very public service role,” city manager Linda Cochrane said.

‘We just don’t want to fight’ 

The executive director of the festival said the eviction did not come as a surprise.

The non-profit and the city had been discussing moving out of the storage building for nearly three years after the city said it was concerned about safety.

“We just don’t want to fight with the city – they’re not being horrible. They’ve made their decision and we need to find a new place to go,” Jim Gibbons said.

The building is located in a compound with the city’s maintenance yard.

He said the group is looking for others to step up and offer a storage space.

“The big thing is has to be dry. You can’t have all these tents in a wet environment – they rot. You can’t have all our electrical equipment – they rot.”

He added it would be ideal to find a location that is close to Hawrelak Park, adding other organizations utilize their equipment for other events at the park, so proximity matters.

During the city’s press conference, Cochrane said the festival has had a month-to-month lease for some time now and regrets that organizers were given a date to move out of their storage facility.

“From a liability and safety perceptive, we think it is better if they have direct access to their own building. If we can’t give them that without going through our maintenance yard, we should put them in another part of Hawrelak Park,” she said.

She said they are continuing to negotiate with the festival.

With files from Jeremy Thompson