Unclear if enough has changed to deter pricey 'FOCO' crowds
Published Friday, August 9, 2019 6:21PM EDT
With the city backing off plans to hold landlords responsible for the costs of the annual 'fake homecoming,' it's unclear if enough has changed to curb the party when it returns next month.
FOCO, as it's known, which sees Broughdale Avenue flooded with students, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in policing and municipal expenses.
But have the City of London and Western University done enough to curtail the event?
Stuart Eberhard has been living near Broughdale Avenue for 32 years, and thinks more needs to be done to discourage FOCO.
"When you have a big party of 20,000 people you essentially have to board yourself into your house."
City hall and Western have had 10 months to develop a mix of deterrents and penalties, but Eberhard is skeptical that any of the steps go far enough.
Last year 57 people were hospitalized and taxpayers received a $200,000 bill related to municipal and policing costs.
In February, Mayor Ed Holder issued a dire warning in front of city staff and Western leadership, saying there would be "blood on all of our hands" if the party wasn't brought under control.
Since then city hall considered, but then backed off holding landlords responsible for municipal costs incurred at FOCO.
Instead they're proposing an increase to the maximum penalty for hosting nuisance parties from $10,000 to $25,000.
City staff have also recommend creating a temporary no-parking zone on nearby streets during the unsanctioned party.
Now, Holder says, "Should there be an injury there will still be blood on our hands. But the bigger issue is 'What are the steps that we are taking?' You've seen what they are trying to do with respect to the nuisance bylaw."
Western has added off-campus actions to its student Code of Conduct and will again host a concert to draw students away from Broughdale.
But Eberhard believes more can be done to reduce the concentration of student rentals in the area.
"I think if the university had a better residence policy and got more affordable residence built, that might help by concentrating the students in someplace controllable."
Holder say finding ways to combat FOCO are not over, "There will be things that are going to be rolled out as we get to the Broughdale timeframe. Not just distractions but hopefully a deterrent."
City hall will consider steps it will take related to curbing FOCO at upcoming committee meetings.