Harm Reduction Takes A Step Back as EDM Events are Banned at The Ex


On Friday April 11th, Toronto City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti introduced a motion to prevent agreements with Electronic Dance Music promoters who wish to rent the city’s publicly owned buildings on The Exhibition grounds.

The motion passed with a vote of 4-3. Mammoliti was thrilled, “We’re talking 5600 kids, many of them taking ecstasy on government lands owned by the taxpayers, I just think it’s wrong to be sending that message,” he said. “I don’t see the logic in that, if the private industry wants to have the venues in a private location then so be it.”

However, death from club drugs are rare. According to the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario between 2002 and 2010 only 17 deaths in Toronto were related to MDMA and ecstasy use. 10 of the people who died were over the age of 40. Meaning less than 1 youth a year died from ecstasy or MDMA use.

Furthermore, this motion goes directly against a long standing “Establishment of Late Night Entertainment Event Protocol (including Raves) and Co-ordinated Response to Inquest Recommendations into the Death of Allen Ho.” The protocol was adopted in August of 2000 and specifically recommends Exhibition Place a s a safe place to hold dance parties.

The Exhibition also created a protocol to ensure safety at dance related events held on the grounds. A number of harm reduction techniques must be used by event organizers including: paid duty police officers, private security, turnstiles and ambulance services on site at all times.

However noble, Councillor Mammoliti’s desire to protect children from the evils of raving may seem misguided.

Toronto’s rave community is notably upset by this decision and has started an online petition urging for it’s reversal.

Many community members feel that the motion was made due to the political sway of Muzik Nightclub owner Zlatko Starkovski. On January 14th, Mr. Starkovski wrote a letter to the chairman of the Exhibition and Councillor Mark Grimes, which stated:

In recent months the Exhibition Place has seen several competing events in both the Better Living Centre and the Direct Energy Centre. While we recognize the competitive nature of our business, this has caused Muzik problems in booking the talent for own shows on other nights. Muzik and the Exhibition Place are a destination venue. Our patrons come here one night a week specifically for our club, many from outside Toronto. If there is similar content and acts being hired on another or the same night, at the same location, we have will not be able to continue our successful programing.

Additionally, Exhibition Place staff have met with Mr. Starkovski and suggested he consider the possibility of promoting a major EDM concert similar to the ones held on the grounds in September and December 2013.

Muzik is not affected by this ban and stands to gain significantly from the decision. It has become increasingly obvious that harm reduction and safety was not the primary motivator in the decision to ban EDM events from The Exhibition.

When questioned about the possible negative effects of this decision, such as forcing the all ages scene underground, Mr Starkovski stated, “there is no underground scene, [this] means 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 year old children will be at home safe.” He is also quoted as saying, “My biggest concern is that [electronic dance music concerts] are mixing 12-year-old girls with 50-year-old men.”

If you would like to see EDM events continue to be held at the Exhibition, which are safe and suitable for all ages, there are a number of ways you can help.

  • sign and share the petition
  • call and email your councillor
  • have your parents call and email your councillor
  • call and email the mayor
  • tweet about this using the hashtag #boycottmuzik
  • give muzik a 1 star review on facebook, google and yelp

By a Trip! Project volunteer
Photo from Facebook