In a ban that many believe was made in haste and in reaction to a recent incident, city councillors are moving to urge removal of a ban preventing electronic music parties at Exhibition Place.
Councillors are making their arguments to the Board of Exhibition Place to help open up the much sought-out venue to such events, in a move that he council says it has the power to do.
According to Mike Layton, one councillor who also sits on the board, they have the right to “require” the board of governors to reverse said policy.
Currently, the policy bans Exhibition Place from hosting any electronic dance music concerts or events.
To address safety issues from previous events and after a review from Toronto’s Public Health office in 2000, this policy was quickly adopted. The policy was mainly pushed by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and Muzik nightclub owner Zlatko Starkovski, both of whom were concerned about incidents in which event attendees had to be taken away by wheelchair.
Starkovski highlighted concerns to the board of governors about the crowds who attended these types of events and they issues they raised in terms of public safety.
“I think drug dealers, pedophiles and people of that nature flock to these places thinking they can sell drugs to kids,” Starkovsi said. “We have the opportunity to save children’s lives.”
Layton has stated that events allowing patrons of any age at Exhibition Place require a strict separation between the underaged and adults, separated by double-gated barricades. These events can easily be found by checking out any Toronto concert review site.
“I think people realize it was made in haste,” Layton said. “I think that motivation was entirely a financial one…It was clear that that was the motivation from the get-go and it wasn’t this altruistic (thing) that we’re protecting children somehow. That was only brought up after the fact.”
If this motion to lift the ban succeeds, Exhibition Place will be required to review its current safety protocols and make updates as needed.
“We made this decision for a reason. Nothing has changed. There’s no reason to think it’s wrong now,” Layton said. “So it should still stand. That’s good public policy. That’s good risk management.”
Layton said there are less than 10 electronic music events per year, each bringing in over $100,000 in revenue.
Charles Khabouth, CEO of Ink Entertainment, which runs several events From Exhibition Place, says he believes the policy will be overturned.
“It was really mind-boggling and shocking that they would decide to ban it from the CNE grounds,” he said. “Obviously this ended up being very political … You can see in the newspaper what’s happening and who’s partying where.”
Layton points out that within the City of Toronto Act that gives the council authority to direct the board of Exhibition Place, helping it follow the “rules, procedures, and policies” as established by the city.
Councillor Gord Perks, who also sits on the Ex Board, says “all the evidence I have seen says holding them at Exhibition Place is safer.”