City, emergency crews, Western bracing for FOCO festivities
The atmosphere on Broughdale Avenue outside the Western University gates is becoming most unfriendly. And that’s exactly how London police and city officials want it.
Crews of tradespeople and security professionals were on hand Friday setting up surveillance equipment, posting “no stopping” signs that will be used for one day, and making their presence felt - like a skunk at a backyard tea and crumpet social.
“We're doing most of what we can, I would say all of what we can,” said Councillor Phil Squire.
He concedes that there will, in fact, be some kind of mass party on the tiny north London street on Saturday nicknamed FOCO or 'Fake Homecoming' in defiance of Western’s previous decision to adjust the date of its official homecoming celebrations.
Squire is also well aware it’s going to be tough to compete with a party that numbered around 20,000 last year, and has only grown in notoriety by its online presence.
Videos of previous FOCO events posted on YouTube channels have garnered tens of thousands of views, and some worry that makes it a must-attend event for students looking for a good time.
“We're competing against this massive social media presence that is telling people what to do and people are following it. So when people say to me, 'Oh just clear off the street,' or just do this or just do that...it is really difficult to stop,” Squire says.
Police forces from other Ontario cities are being brought in as reinforcements to control the large crowd.
The city estimates the one-day unsanctioned street party will cost London taxpayers a quarter of a million dollars.
The one bright spot, say city officials, is the forecast, which calls for rain on Saturday. So they’re doing a dance, hoping that FOCO becomes a no-go.