Responding to unsanctioned street parties:
Over the past few years, unsanctioned street parties have become increasingly dangerous. There are countless injuries and costs for public safety resources have reached in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The rise of mass parties in cities and towns where there are post-secondary schools is not unique to London. In fact, this is a challenge facing communities across North America.
Earlier this year, the City of London, in collaboration with Western University administration, their student council, the London Police Service and London Fire Department formed a Task Force to work towards solutions to reduce harm and end unsanctioned street parties in neighbourhoods close to the university.The Task Force is looking for community input to help identify solutions to ensure public safety, and to respond to these unsanctioned and unsafe events.
Actions taken so far:
Through the Task Force, a number of steps have already been taken.
The City has recommended changes to the Public Nuisance By-Law that would require owners, occupants or tenants of residences along these streets to take reasonable actions to prevent, end and clean up after a nuisance party. These requirements could include hiring security, extinguishing fires, removing people from roofs and reducing sounds, with penalties that would include cost recovery for any actions the City is required to take. As well, the City is recommending an increase in fines from $10,000 to $25,000 for violations of this by-law.
Western University has also updated its Code of Student Conduct. Students could now face consequences for conduct at unsanctioned events that become associated with the university because of the nature of the event or the number of students involved. Previously, the Code only applied to sanctioned university events or, in some instances, where students were officially representing Western at external events. The university will consider the seriousness of the alleged conduct, the risk of harm involved, and whether the off-campus conduct is part of a series of actions that occurred both on and off the premises.
The London Police Service and London Fire Department have also reviewed and revised their operational response plans, however details of those plans remain confidential to ensure any actions taken are as effective as possible.
The Task Force will also be developing comprehensive communications campaigns to encourage a shift in behaviours and to keep the community informed about any events that may pose a threat to public and participants’ safety.
Based on experience in other communities, we know that there is no simple answer, and that solutions will continue to evolve. As the City and its partners work on this, there will be continued consultation, both locally with community involvement on policy matters, and nationally and internationally with the assistance of the Town and Gown Association of Ontario (TGAO) and the International Town and Gown Association (ITGA).
Share your feedback to help us find solutions here in London.