Shy Captain and the Nightlife of Tomorrow
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Shy Captain and the Nightlife of Tomorrow

Photo by JaMmcat from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Shortly after a series of shoot-outs and drug busts in Clubland last year, Councillor Adam Vaughan made a stout-hearted attempt to allay citizens’ fears: “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s not a strobe light coming from the next club, but a better tomorrow.”
Well, shield your eyes: it appears that light is now shining brighter than ever. Yesterday, the Toronto Entertainment District Business Improvement Area (BIA) hosted the first of many collaborative dialogues on the best methods for creating “the safest and most enjoyable nightlife area in North America.” The roundtable discussion, which ironically took place in that hotbed of sin called CiRCA, included nightlife business owners as well as representatives from the City of Toronto, the Toronto Police Service, and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (Liquor Enforcement Branch). Captain Vaughan, however, was mysteriously absent from the meeting, despite vowing to be there. Nevertheless, the Justice League plowed on, hashing over a draft “Best Practices For Nightlife Establishments” document tabled by the Toronto Entertainment District BIA.

“We believe that it’s really important to maintain a vibrant, lively, safe, and enjoyable nightlife—not just to the Entertainment District, but to the city as a whole,” said BIA Executive Director Janice Solomon. “We thought it made sense to bring all of the stakeholders together to help create a standardized ‘best practices.’”

Toronto Entertainment District BIA representative Rob Ireland preaches peace, club, and unity. Photo by Nino Gheciu/Torontoist.

Modelled after similar inclusive processes in New York, San Jose, and Vancouver, the document, once finalized, will be circulated to the city’s nightlife businesses as a common set of guiding principles on everything from liquor licensing to conflict resolution.
Here are some of the draft’s commandments:

  • A list of all large scale scheduled events outside of routine operations should be sent to the designated officer in the local precinct.
  • Persons who are apparently under the influence of alcohol or drugs should be denied entry into the establishment.
  • Security should be mandated to separate and remove all potentially violent patrons in a manner designed to prevent a continuation of violent activity inside or outside the establishment.
  • Establishments should install anti-theft environmental designs such as drawers, shelves and hooks for customers who choose not to check bags.
  • Identifying information on ejected and/or arrested patrons should be retained on a “banned list” database. These patrons should not be allowed subsequent re-entry.
  • A sidewalk queuing plan must be enforced. All individuals in admission lines should be informed that if they are not orderly, they may not be admitted.
  • Signage, staff communication and DJ announcements at closing time should be done to remind patrons they are in a residential neighbourhood and they should move quickly, quietly, and safely out of the area.

Aside from the standard spewing of introductory platitudes (like “I think this is a very forward-thinking solution” and “I think it’s great we can all collaborate on this”), the noise-control issue seemed to be of particular interest yesterday, with several participants stressing the need to be mindful of the glut of new hotel and condo developments in the District. At one point, Vaughan’s constituency assistant Jennifer Chan noted that a major priority was to “ensure that a good night out and a good night’s sleep can peacefully coexist.”
“There’s obviously a shift in the Entertainment District where we do have a lot more development taking place, whether it’s residential or commercial,” said Solomon. “So, all of our nightlife operators and enforcement agencies have to take into consideration that we’re also a community that’s in flux and we have to be adaptable to the changes that are taking place.”
The same overseers of nightlife peace and security will reconvene monthly at the CiRCA Watchtower to refine the details of their “best practices” declaration. Meanwhile, an incensed mob of 905-ers will slowly rise for their right to blare Eurotrash beats and catcall hood rats during after-hours.