Western University held their fake homecoming festivities on Saturday. Intensive partying led to hundreds of fines and dozens of hospital trips for thousands of students in attendance. Last year, the police presence at the party costed the city over $55 000. This year, York Region police joined force with the London police service to tackle the event. Likely costs to the city this year are going to be more than last.
“This year’s party presence was bigger than last year. With bigger presence, it’s likely there will be a greater cost to the city,” said Councillor Phil Squire.
Students are trying to prove to the administration, that just because they changed the homecoming date, does not mean that they have to follow the rules.
“Students are saying to administration, ‘You told us what to do. We’re not gonna listen to it. We’re gonna have the party on the day we want.’ And that is the way it’s gonna be.”
Councillor Squire is not happy about how intense the partying has been in his ward. It never used to be that way when he was studying at Western.
“We would have a homecoming house party on the weekend, and then go down to the bars afterwards. But it was a lot quieter and certainly there was no occupation of a street. That did not happen during the time I was a student at Western.”
Broughdale Avenue was occupied for majority of the day on Saturday making it impossible for residents and emergency vehicles to get down the street. If occupying a street is something that continues in the future, Squire says police should consider using harsher tactics.
“Are they gonna start using tactics they used up at Fleming Drive at Fanshawe a number of years ago, where people actually got charged criminally for their behavior. Maybe that’s something to consider.”
Public safety is the number one concern for the city and creating the safest environment for students is what they will push for whenever this event comes around.
“We need to have this event under better control for the next time around so people aren’t getting hurt. And that’s the serious side of this is the public safety issue. There were a number of injuries Saturday, one hurt very seriously. Last year a person was hurt seriously so, I don’t want to get into a situation where someone dies on Broughdale Avenue. I wanna solve it before then.”
The city will look for solutions to creating safer environments for next year’s FOCO festivities at council and committee meetings. Squire is looking forward to these meetings and says he will be straightforward with everyone that is present.
“This will come up at council, it will come up at the town and gown committee meeting when we have a de-brief. Western will be there, students will be there, and it will be a pretty interesting discussion because I’ll be pretty direct with them.”
Committee and council meetings on the discussion of FOCO will begin in early November.