By Hamida Ghafour
A crackdown on Toronto’s rave scene has angered some members of the rave community who blame the media for drawing the attention of police and the public.
Jason Woodall, a fourth-year computer programming student, is one of those people.
Woodall, who has been racing for nearly two years and recently started his own promotion company, Labyrinth Productions, said people don’t understand the rave scene.
The police crackdown is a knee-jerk response to stories that appeared in The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun and The National Post, he said.
“It upsets me because most of the mainstream media doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Woodall said. “They take comments and blow it out of proportion to sell papers.”
The Toronto Rave Information Project (TRIP), which is made up of concert promoters and rave organizers, will be meeting with city council organizers soon so they can help make decisions on bylaws affecting raves.
Woodall said raves aren’t as dangerous as the media are making them out to be.
TRIP also plans to continue educating rave-goers on drugs.
Toronto police have set up a team — made up of health officials, the fire department and police officers — to quell the drugs in the underground parties. This comes after three people died at races in the past five months.
The latest death was on Oct. 10 when Ryerson business student Allen Ho died of an apparent drug overdose in an underground garage rave.
The team will look at regulating raves and dealing with drug culture.
City councillor Tom Jakobek (East Toronto) is one of the most outspoken critics on raves. But he was out of town and couldn’t be reached for comment.
But police Inspector Randall Munroe of 52 division, on Dundas Street West, who helped set up the police team, acknowledged it’s going to be difficult to crack down on the drug culture of raves.
He said a bigger problem is the places where raves are held.
Most of them are in warehouses where 15,000 people are cramped in a space meant to accommodate 4,000, he says, adding there aren’t usually fire exits.
“You don’t have even have to have a fire,” he said. “You just have to have one person scream fire and you have a stampede of people. Some people are going to be crushed.”
If police are called to the scene, they will call the fire marshall who has the authority to shut down raves at illegal venues.
But both Woodall and Munroe agree raves should not be driven underground because that makes them even more dangerous.