Block Party brings mess to Nest plaza, leaving concerned students to clean up

This piece was updated on April 12 at 5:40 p.m. to include the statement from the AMS.

The day after Block Party, half a dozen seagulls flew above cans, spilled food, pieces of wood, a broken plastic chair and a folding table littering the plaza outside the Nest as students not affiliated with the AMS cleaned up the mess.

On Friday night, AMS Events held Block Party, its annual year-end concert in the plaza between the Nest and Hebb building. Staff were seen putting away concert equipment and fences at around 1 p.m. Saturday. They were gone by 3 p.m., leaving the litter largely untouched.

Although the resulting mess was concentrated in the plaza in front of the Nest early Saturday afternoon, litter could be seen on the other side of the building in between McInnes Field, in front of the bookstore, along the grassy knoll outside the Nest and along University Boulevard up to Martha Piper Plaza.

Lad Issa, a first-year media studies student, said he started working at around 3:30 p.m., buying his own trash bags to use.

“We have a beautiful campus here. And I think it is just the wind — we weren’t expecting it to blow this trash around,” he said. “I just want to get it cleaned up and get back to the way this campus usually looks.”

Melissa Li

Wind speeds on campus were around 30 km/h on Saturday, according to The Weather Network. Gusts were strong enough to move garbage as large as half-metre-wide cardboard boxes.

First-year engineering student Kevin Cui said he saw Issa cleaning up and decided to pitch in. Both said they were cleaning on their own will and weren’t affiliated with the AMS.

The two students said they would continue until the plaza was clean out of concern that the wind would blow the litter far from the plaza.

In an Instagram post, Cui called the mess “1000% unacceptable.”

At 7 p.m., most large pieces of garbage had been removed except for twist ties, empty cups and tabs from aluminum cans. A few crumpled banner signs from event booths were pushed alongside the benches near University Boulevard.

In a written statement sent to The Ubyssey, the AMS said the clean up process for Block Party is a two-stage process where AMS Events cleans up the plaza after the event and UBC does a more thorough clean on the following Monday.

"We have considered hiring an external cleaning service for the post event clean-up but that creates a conflict UBC’s labour agreements so we’ve never proceeded. UBC also provides us bins and a dumpster to use," the statement continued.

The AMS said the Events team worked hard to clear the plaza and left any remaining trash that could not fit in the bins or dumpster in bags besides the dumpster for pick-up.

"Unfortunately it appears the wind and birds spread some of the trash around before UBC could come gather the bags."

The student society said it would look into ordering additional dumpsters and bins for next year. It also thanked the students who helped clean up the litter and said they could receive a reimbursement for the garbage bags they purchased.

Issa didn’t want to place blame on anyone, adding that he had posted on his Instagram story asking people to help with the clean up. Cui also asked that passersby consider pitching in, but wanted the AMS and AMS Events to take responsibility.

"I'm doing this because I know this is the right thing to do. I'm not mad at y'all. I’m mad at the AMS. I'm not against parties. I'm against not taking responsibility. I just want y'all to be less indifferent, and more responsible," Cui wrote on Instagram.

— with files from Nathan Bawaan

Melissa Li