In keeping with Provincial regulations, as of September 22, the City of London will require people to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to access certain City recreation programs, services and facilities.
For the past several years, the last Saturday in September has been synonymous with a large, unsanctioned street party on Broughdale Avenue. This year, considering ongoing COVID-19 concerns and recent incidents of violence, sexual violence and gender-based violence on and around post secondary campuses, community leaders are coming together to encourage students and anyone who may have been planning to attend to avoid Broughdale this coming Saturday.
In 2019, London Mayor Ed Holder called for a task force to address community concerns about unsanctioned street parties. This task force brings together agencies from across London with a shared concern for the safety of those who attend and participate in large unsanctioned gatherings and with a shared responsibility for the safety of the community overall.
Membership on the task force includes representation from Western University, University Students’ Council of Western University, Fanshawe College, the City of London, London Police Service, London Fire Department, Middlesex London Paramedic Service and the Middlesex-London Health Unit. These agencies have been meeting since March in anticipation of a potential gathering on Saturday, with the hope of discouraging attendance and protecting the safety and well-being of all.
With ongoing COVID-19 transmission and the increase in behaviour putting individuals and the community at risk, the Middlesex-London Health Unit announced enhanced efforts to prevent further illness and virus spread through two Section 22 Class Orders earlier this week. The first Order re-iterates the limits placed on social gatherings including capping indoor get-togethers at 25 people and limiting outdoor gatherings to 100.
The second Order applies to establishments that serve food and alcohol and requires anyone who attends to wear a mask or face covering at all times, except when consuming food or beverages while seated in a designated area. Additional details about the orders are available here: www.healthunit.com/section-22-orders-and-instructions.
Under the Section 22 Class Order, an initial fine of $750 would be applied to anyone attending a gathering that exceeds the limits, but fines could be as high as $5,000. Hosting a gathering that exceeds the limits is a $10,000 fine.
Earlier this month, two charges issued by City By-law Officers on St Patrick’s Day to individuals who held parties on Broughdale Street that exceeded gathering limits were before the courts. Each individual was convicted and ordered to pay $2,000.
Through Project Learn, London Police Service has also recently issued one Reopening Ontario Act charge, which carries a maximum fine of $10,000.
In addition to fines under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Section 22 Class Orders, attending a large gathering and nuisance behaviour could be costly if Municipal By-laws are breached. Fines can be issued for multiple infractions, and they can also be issued multiple times in one day. Public nuisance fines include:
Attend a nuisance party
|Fail to leave premises||$750|
|Use of a closed highway||$500|
|Urinate/Defecate in a public place||$250|
For serious incidents off campus, Western’s complaint-driven Code of Student Conduct can be applied, with outcomes that could range from disciplinary action and suspension to expulsion.
Beyond financial impacts and consequences, the top priority for all members of the task force is the safety and well-being of London’s student population, or anyone else who may be considering attending, and the community at large.
The safety of all first responders and ensuring that they are able to attend to emerging situations is also a concern. In the past, there have been numerous injuries, ranging from minor to some that required transport to hospital, as well as other behaviours that put individual well-being at risk. It’s critical that emergency personnel are able to reach individuals who may need help.
While all task force member organizations are discouraging attendance, first responders and enforcement agencies will be prepared to support community safety and well-being in the event there is a gathering.
“Students are an important part of our community. When they are here, we want them to consider themselves at home,” said London Mayor Ed Holder. “As a part of our community, everyone has a responsibility to take good care – of themselves, of each other, and of our city. During a time when the threat of a fourth wave of COVID-19 is not only real, but present and when we have seen escalating incidents of violence, out of concern for everyone’s safety and well-being, I am imploring students to avoid Broughdale.” ~ London Mayor Ed Holder
“This is about making wise choices. We’re not against drinking. We're not against dancing. We just hope people can figure out how to do those things safely. Party small.” ~ Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
“We have seen in past years the dangers that accompany large, unsanctioned gatherings, and the nuisance they create for our community. The London Police Service will have a strong, visible presence this weekend to ensure public safety is maintained. We will be firm but fair in our enforcement efforts as we work with our community partners to keep everyone safe.” ~ London Police Chief Steve Williams
“Students are an extremely important part of our community, and we are committed to doing our part, as London Fire Department, but also as part of the task force that is working diligently to keep everyone safe. London Fire Department encourages students to avoid Broughdale this weekend.” ~ London Fire Chief Lori Hamer
“The health and well-being of the entire Middlesex-London Community remains to be our top priority. With increasing calls for emergency service and current COVID protocols that remain in place, Middlesex- London Paramedic Service encourages everyone to avoid large gatherings, stay safe and give responding Paramedics the space to do their job and access patients. In an emergency, time matters”. ~ Chief Neal Roberts, Middlesex-London Paramedic Service
“Unsanctioned street parties are highly dangerous and put our students at great risk. Those risks are compounded right now by the threat of COVID-19 and our students have a critical role to play in keeping circles small, protecting our community and each other.” ~ Alan Shepard, President of Western University
“Community safety must continue to be everyone’s top priority. Please take care of each other this weekend and help everyone stay safe.” ~ Peter Devlin, President of Fanshawe College