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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN AB: Editorial: Ranting At Raves Wasn't The Solution
Title:CN AB: Editorial: Ranting At Raves Wasn't The Solution
Published On:2012-01-27
Source:Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-01-28 06:03:02

City council is in the business of Edmonton and as such it has a
man-date to act as a responsible promoter or at least an enabler of
positive activity in the downtown core.

But the development and enrichment of the inner city takes on many
forms, not all of which are politically palatable. Take, for instance,
all-night dance parties, or raves as they are otherwise known.
Council's executive committee decided Wednesday to repeal a provision
in a city bylaw and in so doing allow promoters to obtain after-hours
licences for dance parties that have also been licensed for alcohol sales.

A typical party begins at 8 p.m., alcohol is served perhaps until 1
a.m., partiers are given a grace period of another hour in which to
consume their last drinks, and all alcohol is then removed from the
premises and the dancing continues until 6 a.m.

It is expected that on Feb. 1 the full council will approve the
committee's decision, which was made in direct opposition to
recommendations from the Edmonton Police Service and the city's own
administration and legal department. They all cited documented risks
to health and safety stemming from the potentially dangerous mix of
alcohol, illicit drug use, extended hours and a large crowd of revellers.

Committee members acknowledged the risks and put the onus on event
promoters to minimize the potential for harm. That objective is
clearly the crux of this issue - ensuring that after-hours parties do
no more harm than similar social events that shut their doors at a
more traditional time.

The rave promoters have been issued a licence to stay in their
profit-able business and they had better recognize the need to invest
a healthy percentage of that future revenue in comprehensive
harm-reduction strategies, lest they invite council to change its
mind. For instance, the current ratio of 12 special-duty police
officers to as many as 5,000 partiers essentially invites trouble.
That number should be doubled or perhaps tripled, an initiative that
would cost promoters significant room on their margin but would be
worth it in the long run.

Promoters should also invest time and money in spreading the message
of responsible behaviour, and in particular they should work to alter
the culture of their industry by disassociating electronic music with
the use of drugs like ecstasy.

"Their audience might pay attention to them," said Shaw Conference
Centre general manager Cliff Higuchi, who has an extensive working
knowledge of the after-hours party scene, which he thinks has evolved
in a positive direction.

"When these events first appeared on the scene a number of years ago,
a number were held at community centres and warehouses. There were
absolutely no controls on what happened at those events."

Today, the impetus is on promoters merely to beef up those controls by
adding more police officers to the mix. Higuchi said that in addition
to the promoter's police contingent, security personnel at his venue
number about 70 for a typical after-hours party. He feels that's adequate.

Demanding action from the promoters on issues of public health and
safety, as councillors have done, is reasonable, but in eschewing the
recommendations of the EPS and their own administration by approving
after-hours and liquor licences for the same event, our elected
representatives are way out there on an island by themselves.

They are perhaps motivated by a desire to promote downtown vibrancy.
There is an economic impact made by these parties - patronage of taxi
companies, restaurants and public transit - beyond the money gleaned
from the event by the promoter, the DJs, security personnel and the
Shaw Conference Centre management.

There is also a wider, positive message sent by fostering the rave and
electronic music culture. Committee members have bought into the idea
that these events are largely good for the city. Indeed, their
continued existence broadcasts a willingness to host entertainment
events that are beyond the mainstream.

It would have been easy for councillors to simply rant against raves
and allow the bylaw to stand, but they have chosen instead to believe
in an industry that is fuelled by youthful enthusiasm. Provided that
spirit is supported by adequate safety measures, it seems the wise choice.
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