Toronto councillor Paula Fletcher wants to make electronic dance parties safer

Fletcher says stricter safety measures needed following overdose death in December

By Trevor Dunn, CBC News
January 14, 2017

 

City councillor Paula Fletcher wants the city to mandate safety regulations for large electronic dance music parties. (CBC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Toronto city councillor is calling for more safety measures at Electronic Dance Music (EDM) venues that often attract large crowds and lots of drugs.

Councillor Paula Fletcher, who represents Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth,  will file a motion on Monday at the Community Development and Recreation Committee.

It’s in response, she says, to the overdose death of a 19 year-old woman who attended an all-ages EDM event at Rebel nightclub on Polson Pier.

At least two other people overdosed at the same party, according Toronto Paramedic Services. Both survived.

“A family lost a wonderful young woman just before Christmas. I want to make sure we don’t have any more deaths,” Fletcher said in an interview with CBC Toronto.

She says medical staff were on hand at the Dec.16 event where the overdoses occurred.

But while the private medics treated the patients, they could not transport them to hospital. Only Toronto Paramedic Services are allowed to transport people in an ambulance.

Fletcher wants to make the presence of Toronto Paramedics mandatory at all “large” EDM parties, as it already is for large events on public property.

“It’s the smart thing to do if you’re having an EDM concert,” she said.

If approved, the costs of contracting Toronto Paramedics would have to be covered by the venue or event promoter.

For private events, Toronto Paramedics charges up to $216 per hour for two paramedics and an ambulance.

Fletcher doesn’t think it’s too much to ask.

“I think it’s very reasonable. It’s incumbent on these promoters to ensure these kids are safe.”

In fact, some promoters already contract Toronto EMS for events.

‘It’s a good idea,’ promoter says Richard Lambert, of the Social Group and concert promoter Embrace, says he’s organized several large events where paramedics and an ambulance were present.

“I don’t see a problem with it. As long as the size of the event is considerable enough, in the thousands, it’s a good idea,” Lambert told CBC Toronto.

Monday’s motion asks city staff to study the feasibility of mandating risk management plans that include Toronto Paramedics for all EDM events that attract large crowds.

Fletcher sees it as another “harm reduction” strategy the city should embrace, since the parties will continue to happen and it’s hard for the venues to stop drugs from getting in.

“It’s not reasonable to cancel them or ban them,” Fletcher said of the EDM parties. “They’ll just go somewhere less safe.”