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City of London special task force to help ensure safe homecoming celebrations

It's that time of year again when the city prepares for unsanctioned street parties.

The City of London put together a special task force to ensure those who take part in homecoming celebrations this weekend do so safely.

The city issued a release saying, “This task force brings together agencies from across London with a shared concern for the safety of those who attend and participate in large unsanctioned gatherings.”

The task force was originally formed in 2019 and has been meeting each year ever since. 

Mayor Josh Morgan said it’s okay to have a good time in our city, but, “It's not okay to move that into a situation where your friends or your loved ones get hurt or injured because of bad decision making.”

The city has been working with first responders and Western University for months, planning for Saturday’s anticipated street gatherings.

Western said there are efforts being made to keep students on campus.

"We've got the fan festival, the football game of course, and we start the day off with a pancake breakfast. So we are trying to make homecoming a very special day not just for all the alumni who are coming back but for the students who are here,” said John Doerksen, Vice-Provost (Students) Western University.

But if and when those parties move off campus — London police, paramedics and fire services are preparing to respond.

"From a fire perspective, our concerns are potential overcrowding in a home, smoke alarms that are disconnected or missing batteries, also the potential of carbon monoxide within this homes,” said London Deputy Fire Chief Matt Hepditch.

All three of London Health Sciences Centre’s hospital emergency departments have made plans to have additional staff on hand and dedicated overflow spaces to assist with the possibility of higher patient volumes.

The city says unsanctioned gatherings in large numbers on city streets aren’t just dangerous, they could be costly, as fines can be issued for multiple infractions.

Fines include:

  • Attend a nuisance party: $800
  • Fail to leave premises: $750
  • Use of a closed road: $500
  • Urinate in a public place: $250

And there could be repercussions beyond your pocket book.

"The University has a code of student conduct, and it does have purview beyond the campus as well,” said Doerksen.

The City of London added that beyond financial impacts and consequences, the top priority for all members of the task force is the safety and well-being of London’s student population, or anyone else who may be considering attending, and the community at large.

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