Broughdale residents not expecting big FOCO street party Saturday, which official says would be 'disaster'
LONDON, ONT. -- It is unclear whether the annual FOCO street party will take place near Western University this Saturday in London, Ont. but health officials are already on the trail of other possible parties.
They've been informed of where other possible parties might happen and they have health inspectors ready to act.
“I think if we see the type of FOCO party that we have in the past, it will be an unmitigated public health disaster," says Dr. Chris Mackie, medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Heath Unit.
"These are the sorts of gatherings where you have an enormous amount of people in very close proximity and you know moving around and potentially being in contact with thousands of others. There is literally nothing that could spread Covid virus more quickly than that.”
But students say any street party plans are kept quiet if they're happening at all.
"I think compared to other years, we’ve heard nothing about people coming down, and party plans for the day," says Calvin Gallina, a fourth-year Western student who lives on the famous party street Broughdale Avenue.
"We know fines are heavier than the nuisance parties last year, so that's a big deterrent. Also as cases started to spike at Western recently people are starting to pay more attention and be safer."
Under new provincial regulations, those hosting a gathering of more than 10 people indoors, or 25 outdoors could be fined a minimum $10,000 and a maximum of $100,000.
"We're not going to let anyone we don't know on the property," says George Barrie, a student who also lives on Broughdale. "We're going to try and block off the driveway, and it should be obvious we don't want people there as the fines are huge for hosting a party."
Over the past few years London police, fire and EMS have been on scene for the unsanctioned gathering, which has seen crowds in the range of 20,000 people pack the streets around campus.
This year, it's been quiet but police are gearing up for the potential of a get together in some form.
"We don't have all the information as to what will take place," says London police Const. Sandasha Bough.
"The numbers of house parties and noise complaints were significantly lower last weekend than the weekend before. If there is a large unsanctioned gathering our officers will be prepared to respond if necessary."
Bough says she hopes the students abide by the information provided by the Middlesex-London Health Unit and the Province of Ontario regarding gathering numbers.
Ward 6 Councillor Phil Squire has attended the parties the past few years, but says he won't be going this time.
He says he's been hearing concern from residents who live near Broughdale.
"They're concerned every year but this year it is even higher with COVID and possibility of spreading," says Squire, who hopes less fanfare will deter students.
"I think everyone now knows that if they hold large parties that big fines can be laid. I'm hoping common sense will prevail and we'll have a quiet weekend."
Barrie says he hasn't seen anything on social media indicating there will be a gathering so he is unsure if people will congregate on his street.
Gallina says the plan for his household is to host a small group of friends Saturday.
"We have this nice porch, so our plan have our little bubble over on the day FOCO is supposed to be on, but not allow anyone else on the property. We were worried about people on the property against our interest or invites, but I think we should be OK, there is nowhere here to stand anyway."