Volume 93, Issue 88

Thursday, March 16, 2000


NEWS

Council opts for budget

Western shops for best policy

Coke isn't it for McGill students

Toronto strike force to take aim at rave scene

Binge drinking on the rise

Dinner time helps health

Briefs

Stuff

Caught on campus

Toronto strike force to take aim at rave scene



By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Toronto's chief of police and mayor have vowed to crack down on the city's illegal after-hours party scene and are forming a squad of experts to carry out the mission.

In an announcement made Tuesday, police Chief Julian Fantino explained a yet-to-be named strike force would be set up in an attempt to crack down on illegal after-hour parties and raves, confirmed Sgt. Jim Muscat of the Toronto Police. The group would include officials from Toronto's fire, alcohol, gaming and health commissions.

"We're going to be diligent, we're going to use every means possible to close these places down and we're going to use the letter of the law to enforce any laws available to us in order to enhance public safety," Muscat said.

The media liaison for the mayor's office, Vicki Kutzmenda, said Toronto mayor Mel Lastman said the time had arrived for a zero-tolerance policy, in light of two recent shooting deaths at after-hours clubs in the city's downtown core.

Muscat said there have been 49 slayings at illegal after-hours clubs since 1991, with many more injuries occurring as a result of violence at the underground venues.

"The concern for me is what has come to be the character of these events – the drug trade and the guns that go with it," said Kyle Rae, a Toronto city councillor representing the downtown area.

Although there is an inherent element of secrecy which accompanies after-hour clubs and raves, Rae said the ability to target and shut down these events was not an overly ambitious endeavour.

"I know these things seem to appear out of nowhere, but when people do this – they see the lineups, they hear the noise. There are all sorts of manifestations of the events and they tend to be in the same places over and over."

Although the problem was a top priority on Fantino's list, London police Chief Al Gramolini said the situation in London was different. "You really can't compare the two cities," he said, adding since London is geographically smaller then Toronto, it would be easier to police.

Still, Gramolini explained London's illicit drug market was an issue which demanded attention. "I'm very worried about how freely drugs like ecstasy find their way into the city, predominantly through the university," he said.

"I agree it's getting out of hand a little bit," said fourth-year social sciences student Ryan Fung. "At the same time, I think they're getting raves and clubs mixed together. They don't attract the same sorts of people," he said.


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