Debate over late-night dance parties ends in compromise

A compromise has been reached between city councillors and organizers of all-night dance parties when it comes to whether alcohol should be sold or served at the events.

The city sees drinking and drug abuse at raves and similar late-night parties as a major problem, with officials saying that since 2009, there have been five overdose deaths in Edmonton connected to all night dance parties, and dozens more health emergencies.

On Wednesday, city councillors heard from industry and the public safety compliance team as they debated banning booze at the events entirely. Safety officials say it would reduce problems, while industry argues it would kill the culture and simply drive the parties underground.

“I think steps can be taken, we just need to figure out what those steps are,” says Viet Nguyen with Boodang Music Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

By meetings end, they reached a compromise – alcohol will continue to be sold at the parties, for now.

“The community all came together to make sure that this didn’t happen,” adds Nguyen. “And now I think the community needs to come together and make sure that the events are safe.”

The industry is being given just a few months to find those solutions.

“So if you want to maintain this kind of event which we support, you better make sure it’s properly organized, properly monitored and that there’s safety and security there,” says Mayor Stephen Mandel, adding that he believes the real problem isn’t alcohol as much as it is drugs.

The question now remains, how to make the change happen. Nicole Chapdelain with the Public Safety Complaince Team admits it won’t be easy, and the standards for what passes as a safe event, will be set high.

“In my opinion if we have one overdose, we still have an issue.”



With files from Ross Neitz, Global News