Proposed bylaw aimed at curbing FoCo earns London council committee support

Police footage of the Broughdale Avenue area at around 1:46 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, during FoCo celebrations. Supplied photo / London Police Service

The City of London may soon have another tool at its disposal when it comes to dealing with unsanctioned street parties.

A proposed bylaw aims to put a muzzle on Fake Homecoming (FoCo), an annual street party held by Western University students that drew 20,000 revellers to Broughdale Avenue last year.

READ MORE: 20,000 people, 134 charges, 57 hospitalized: emergency officials detail 2018 FoCo stats

The latest iteration of the proposed bylaw garnered support from London’s community and protective services committee on Tuesday.

It follows months of debate over how to deal with unsanctioned parties, which prompted Mayor Ed Holder to say in February that “there will be blood on all of our hands” if the events were allowed to go on unchecked.

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Tuesday’s committee meeting saw a presentation on the proposed bylaw from chief municipal law enforcement officer Orest Katolyk.

“Based on the principles of taking ownership of your own behaviour and your own actions, civic administration recommend that we focus on the persons that are creating or contributing to nuisance parties,” Katolyk said.

“We are recommending that fees be imposed on persons who sponsor, create, continue, conduct, cause or host nuisance parties.”

READ MORE: Proposed changes to public nuisance bylaw draw issue with London landlords

A previous version of the proposed bylaw drew concern from local landlords, who argued it would have been “legally unenforceable” at the time.

The now-defunct tweaks would have made landlords or property owners responsible for their tenants’ parties and subject to up to $25,000 in fines if a party grew out of a control.

“We are not recommending that landlords be invoiced for the behaviour of their tenants,” Katolyk said when describing the most up-to-date version of the proposed bylaw.

Fees imposed by the proposed bylaw would aim to ease the financial burden typically carried by the city. Last year’s FoCo left London with a $200,000 bill for emergency services.

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Those charged could also pay up to $180 per hour for emergency services that are deployed to deal with a nuisance party, along with any extra costs incurred by the city.

READ MORE: Western University’s board approves penalties for student misconduct during Fake Homecoming

Katolyk’s presentation left committee members short on questions but long on praise.

“This is a step in a series of steps, all important,” said Holder.

Ward 5 Coun. Maureen Cassidy offered gratitude for Katolyk’s work in crafting the proposed bylaw.

“I’m sure there isn’t a lot of people out there that realize what you sometimes have to go through to do your job, and you do it very well,” Cassidy said.

Katolyk told committee members that the proposed bylaw won’t provide a silver-bullet solution for taming FoCo celebrations but added that joint efforts from Western University and the university’s student council will go a long way.

The proposed bylaw will need full council approval before it can come into effect. City council meets next on Aug. 27.

WATCH: Arrests made under Kingston’s nuisance bylaw at St. Patrick’s Day street party

Click to play video: 'Arrests made under Kingston’s ‘Nuisance By-Law’ at St. Patrick’s Day street party'
Arrests made under Kingston’s ‘Nuisance By-Law’ at St. Patrick’s Day street party

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