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Death of Clubland (aka: Is Adam Vaughan trying to kill the Club District?)


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Apr 23, 2007
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New York

Councillor aims to lay down law in nightclub district

City Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) is pushing for new rules to crack down on the club district, which he blames for attracting as many as 70,000 "drunken hooligans" to the downtown on weekends.

"We suck police resources from across the city into one little neighbourhood, to police a bunch of basically hooligans," Mr. Vaughan said in an interview. "And I say the club owners have to take responsibility for this."

With a moratorium on new nightclubs in the area expiring this month, Mr. Vaughan will ask the city's licensing committee tomorrow to direct bureaucrats to come up with "planning mechanisms" that would allow "long-term moratoriums" on new nightclubs, and establish rules on how many can be in any one part of the city.

Yesterday, he persuaded the works committee to ask bureaucrats to draft a plan that would, if passed, force nightclub owners to apply and pay for permits to use city sidewalks for their lengthy lineups, which Mr. Vaughan said is actually where many club-land fights break out. He also has plans to try to make the terms of nightclub licences stricter, so that "bad players" could be shut down more easily. Mr. Vaughan said he is acting on long-standing complaints from vocal residents living in the area's many new condos or in Victorian houses that long predate the explosion of the clubs in the 1990s. While he believes the nightclub business, with an estimated 70 clubs in the downtown district around Richmond and Peter Streets, is actually starting to fade on its own, he said new rules are needed to help it along. "I think that people are just tired of being shot at, or being searched," Mr. Vaughan said. "You just grow out of it, and hopefully they just disappear.

Scores of police officers try to maintain order on early weekend mornings, when clubs empty around 2:30 a.m. and the streets fill up with thousands of club-goers in various states of inebriation. In addition to crowd-control issues, police say, violence, drug and gang activity are part of the scene.

Adam Vassos, a lawyer who represents several of the area's nightclubs, said the industry is being treated unfairly and its problems exaggerated. He argued that the nightclubs revitalized a derelict part of the downtown.

"The area was in a complete shambles," he said of the neighbourhood in the late 1980s, before clubs began to spring up.


This is absolutely absurd. I'm hardly the kind of person who likes the particularly greasy variety of club found on Richmond and Adelaide, and I'm a local resident who is inconvenienced by the crowds at two in the morning, but I still think all this NIMBY efforts to strangle clubs are ridiculous. For one thing, I find it quite offensive that they're clearly singling out an identifiable "clubber" demographic for such contempt. I also think that it's quite disgraceful to call all of the tens of thousands of people who visit the area every night "hooligans." Am I a hooligan when I walk up there to pick up a burrito? What about if I decide to stop in to a bar for a drink? I love how he uses the exact same scare tactics as conservatives, suggesting that you're pretty much guaranteed to get shot if you step foot in the neighbourhood. There have been all of two murders in the "Entertainment District" in the past three years; not bad considering the critical mass of people visiting the area every weekend.

What I find most ridiculous of all is that the city has forced all the clubs into this neighbourhood, and is now complaining that they're too concentrated. If you moved into a condo in the middle of the club district, you should maybe have thought that it'll be a little loud for a couple hours two nights a week.

Hey, here's an idea: People honk horns and shout on my street after a Blue Jays game lets out. I never would have imagined that there would be noise when I moved next door to a stadium. Many of the Blue Jays fans aren't good Downtown resident Adam Vaughan supporters. Let's shut down the SkyDome!
Vaughan's on safe ground demonizing the flower of 905's youth since none of them will have the opportunity to repay the favour by voting him out of office.
Agree that this is bull. I'm as emphatic an anti-noise crusader as can be found, but these complaints are baseless due to location. Simple solution: do not choose to live in the club district if you don't like it. Unreasonable, hysterical and dumb.
I'm thinking of writing him a letter... I'm very disappointed, I expected more from him. OK, so this is not my prefered area, but there's nothing wrong with designating a 'party place' in the city. Would Mr. Vaughan and like-minded councilors please realise that Toronto is not a sleepy village anymore, and that many of us do not want to see it revert to that, either.
Most of the issue will go away if clubs just let people in and only carry lines if they are at peak capacity.

I would be in favor if they actually amended it (and it would be a civic duty to help losers like me who have to wait in line for an empty club) to allow inspectors to fine clubs deliberately making people wait outside for appearance sakes while the club is not full inside. Because then, they are paying for purposely using the sidewalk. If the inspector is satisfied that a line has formed because of ensuring a safe inflow into a club in an orderly manner, than they can use their discretion.
Adam Vaughan has to be the most tedious of all councillors...anti-development, anti-urban, anti-nightlife, etc., etc...
Should clubs pay a sidewalk rental fee?
John Spears

Nightclubs that line customers up on the sidewalk for hours at a time should have to get city permits and pay for the use of the pavement, says Councillor Adam Vaughan.

Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) has asked for a report on how to require clubs to obtain permits for the long and sometimes rowdy lineups that form outside.

The report should also outline "a process for polling neighbouring properties prior to permit issuance," he writes in a letter to the works committee, which agreed to get the report.

In an interview, Vaughan said many bars and nightclubs deliberately create lineups on the sidewalk to make themselves look popular.

The lineups also keep customers outside until they can be frisked, he said.

"As a regular characteristic and practice of their business, they use public facilities for marketing, for security and for queuing people so they can maximize their interior space and up their alcohol sales," Vaughan said.

"Well, I'm sorry. You can't use the public space for private gain that way without the city getting its fair share, and also regulating it so it's done in a responsible way."

That means lineups shouldn't take over the entire sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into the street, he said. Nightclub lineups aren't like the temporary queues that sometimes form outside theatres, he said.

Theatre lineups only last a short time and the theatres have a lobby where customers can mill around before the show or at intermission, the councillor said.

"There's no intention on my part to start charging the film festival or the Royal Alex or the Tarragon Theatre."

While fruit stores, restaurants and newspaper vending boxes are all charged fees if they occupy sidewalk space, nightclubs don't pay for the space their lineups occupy, he said, adding that they should pay market rent for that space.

The fees should also cover the actual costs incurred by the city of providing policing and licence inspectors in the area.

"These businesses have an impact beyond their four walls – a deliberate impact – and it's time we started to regulate that impact," he said.

Flirt Lounge manager Reagan Sampson said Vaughan's proposal "is the city's way of getting into our pockets.

"It's another way for the city to try to force us out."

People can wait for up to an hour outside the Adelaide St. W. club on a busy Saturday night but usually stay on their best behaviour so they will be allowed inside, Sampson said.

What's more, he said, the lineup is enclosed with a rope so pedestrians can use the sidewalk.

"I don't know the city's intentions – I'm not sitting in any boardrooms – but they're making it very tough for us to do business downtown," Sampson said.

Vaughan said he also plans to ask the city's licensing and standards committee to devise limits on the concentration of bars and nightclubs in areas like the Entertainment District.

With files from Meghan Waters
This is very similar to his "stealth tactics" to strangle the island airport (which I support more) with the sidewalk study. He's crazy like a fox.

I'm no fan of the club district (no interest), and yes, a large and loud minority of the patrons are not that desirable, but the city encouraged it, then allowed condos and the NIMBYs down there. Like moving near an airport then demanding it get shut down (oh, wait!)

Maybe move it to Highway 7 and Jane, Next to the Sorbara Subway, closer to home for the patrons.
Vaughan is getting out of hand - he sounds like some bitter, petty old crank ranting to himself on the Sun's letter page. Freakin' line-ups outside clubs are such a pressing and menacing issue that he has to get this worked up? What a complete ass, pandering to similar asses.

And we wonder why the city isn't run too well...
This is very similar to his "stealth tactics" to strangle the island airport (which I support more) with the sidewalk study. He's crazy like a fox.

To what ends? What does he care? He's still a crank, even if it is phony raving.
I had high hopes when he was elected. I thought he would be the vanguard of a younger, more progressive generation to join council and displace the older cranks that fear any change. What a disappointment. These clubs are tacky as hell for the most part but at least it's a guaranteed lively area, and brings people pouring into the city. Yes, there's some trouble but that's to be expected.
"I think that people are just tired of being shot at, or being searched," Mr. Vaughan said.

I have never, ever been shot at or searched in the club district, despite all the time I've spent in the area.

This is such ridiculous nonsense.

"You just grow out of it, and hopefully they just disappear."

I love his line of thinking...he's grown out of it and doesn't like it, therefore no one else must either. How do some of these people get elected?

Using his reasoning we might as well close down City TV and Much Music too. I can't count how many times I've had to walk on the road to avoid a huge group of people taking up the sidewalk to watch someone visiting the studio. There are many, many things the city could eliminate using his reasoning.

If he was running Toronto it might actually still fit some of the lingering stereotypes that remain - boring, conservative, etc.
I used to live in that area, and even saw him in Kensington once. It's unfortunate that I moved out before the last round of elections - would have loved to have supported Adam Vaughn's and Olivia Chow's opponents.