Fake Homecoming partiers could wake up to something worse than a morning-after hangover this year.
Tenants along Broughdale Avenue could wake up, dry-mouthed and sick, to find a life-altering slip of paper stuck to their door — a fine for hosting a “nuisance party,” that could reach $25,000.
In the two weekends since London’s nuisance bylaw was amended, introducing the fines for large gatherings, London has extracted over $13,000 from 12 student-aged renters. That’s just from the minimum fine per tenant, a little over $1,000.
The city has good reason to police extreme partying: Fake Homecoming alone cost police $200,000 last year, sent dozens to the hospital and detoured London’s first responders to a single block.
But the fines, while effective, are too risky for the severity of their punishment.
The bylaw doesn’t mention students. But when the city requests an involuntary donation of $1,130 from a 19-year-old, it is about students — even if the bylaw’s language doesn’t say so.
These fines are dangerous because they are a flashy solution to a real problem. Londoners and the media can use the fines to easily share that some loud millenials are finally learning responsibility. And though Fake Homecoming is the centrepoint of our awful relationship with the city, these fines seem ill-fitted to handle it.
Broughdale renters trying to avoid these fines will need walls and a moat to keep partiers off their property. Distinguishing between willing hosts and a grey area of students who just accept their yard is on Broughdale, and don’t try to remove people, will be difficult and error-prone.
Enforcement will also determine how effective the fines will be.
If London issues the fines as rigorously as the past weekends, covering $200,000 in costs will be a low bar. There are more than 200 houses on Broughdale, let alone tenants, who at one point on Sept. 28 will host the kind of parties the city has already labeled a nuisance. And many parties that day are more severe than those we’ve seen fined already.
That is the morning-after moment: students would be stuck in near-nuclear fallout, with six figures in fines looming over campus.
Or, if the police step back — focusing on crowd control as they did last year — the bylaw could become insignificant. Perhaps the most worrying thing about this policy is how little it must be enforced for London to add a new revenue stream to its budget.
In this case, and anything between it and all-out enforcement, London will prioritize the worst parties but will inevitably find some loud parties easier to fine than others. Addresses scattered around Broughdale will get the $1,130 tickets added to their rent, selected for convenience and made a cautionary tale for partiers of the future.
Fake Homecoming is the exception to every rule. Weekly ragers in the Greek scene, while well worth a solution, are not the city-wide public safety threat that Fake Homecoming is. Fines fit the weekly parties better than the September blockparty because they are isolated.
Fines have so far hit weekly incidents, even though Fake Homecoming is the problem London is trying to fix. They’re being applied as a deterrent, to make headlines and introduce the policy — but they cannot stray too far from the city’s mission to handle Fake Homecoming.
Some of these issues come with any plan to tackle the Fake Homecoming problem. But we shouldn’t view these fines as an extension of the norm. The city has thrown down the gauntlet — and full the weight of a municipality and its police is more than any student rebellion can rebuff.