Volume 92, Issue 63

Wednesday, January 20, 1999

elmer the elephant


Victim dies from stab wounds

Tuition verdict to come Friday

Renovations needed to fix safety concerns

Last call blamed for city violence

Posts may be toast

Carillon finds autonomy

Alcohol, thefts keep UPD on the move


Caught on campus

Last call blamed for city violence

By Sabrina Carinci
Gazette Staff

The stabbing of two college students late last week, killing one and leaving one in hospital, has since been the subject of numerous questions of the safety of downtown London.

London Mayor Dianne Haskett said recent late night bar fights and crimes are the fault of many. Specifically, bar owners who serve drinks to customers until they are well beyond intoxication, the patrons who drink irresponsibly, the federal government for failure to tighten the criminal code with respect to carrying concealed knives and the provincial government for allowing extended drinking hours in cities such as London.

"The government made [the latter] decision because border cities, like Windsor, said they had difficulty competing with [bars in the United States]. But London isn't a border city," she said.

When the provincial government decided to change the time of last call several years ago, Haskett said she was one of the people who opposed it – and she still does. "I feel very strongly that the government made a big mistake in extending the bar hours to 2 a.m.," she said.

She added with the support of London City Council, she would be interested in petitioning to the provincial government to set back the time the last drink can be served to 1 a.m..

Joanne Armstrong, a spokesperson at the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, said the present Liquor Licensing Act states alcohol can be served in licenced establishments between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 a.m. unless an establishment's licence stipulates otherwise. "The bars then have 45 minutes from closing to remove all evidence of alcohol from the tables," she said.

Controller Orlando Zamprogna, chair of London's police services board, said although petitioning to the government sounds like a good idea, it would be a futile effort. "The reality is that it sounds good, but it wouldn't get us anywhere."

"The mayor's concerns are legitimate," said London police chief Al Gramolini.

Gramolini said he hopes to share ideas with some of the city's bar owners next Tuesday in a meeting to help combat late night crimes.

Said Meddaoui, owner of Ichabods Nite Club, said he believes setting back last call would be a good preventative measure of after-hours crime. "People wouldn't hang around until 3 a.m. – and they would start coming to the bar earlier," he said.

Michelle Morga, a fourth-year sociology student at Western, questioned the effectiveness of an hour less of drinking. "If people leave at 1 a.m., it might cause more fights because they might want to stay out later."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999