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Let My People Party

With the news of REBEL applying for an extension to their current license, which will see the legal occupancy swell to 15,000 (7000+ inside, 7000+ outside) we have a group of entrepreneurs who are looking to create the largest nightclub on earth.

The combined indoor / outdoor capacity for what is currently Cabana Pool Bar and REBEL Entertainment Complex put it firmly ahead of the current largest nightclub on earth, Privilege in Ibiza (10,000 people).

Of course the familiar hand wringing from city councillors and neighbours along the waterfront have started, because god forbid people want to have a good time near anyone else.

The fact that a nightclub of this size is even feasible is a testament to the Frankenstein's monster that our inept city council created when it allowed the dissolution of the city's Entertainment District and subsequent banning of anything even remotely resembling another district from popping up anywhere else in the city.

Unfortunately for them, the people like to party. At it's peak, Toronto's Entertainment District was seeing upwards of 60,0000 people enter it's boundaries every week. There were literally hundreds of options for people to choose from and it flourished. Organically. Not because of some made up slogan and logo, but because of a genuine excitement of thousands of Torontonians who wanted to experience nightlife in the most diverse city on earth. Of course there were always problems, but none were as bad as the media and locals made it out to seem. There was nothing happening in the Entertainment District that stricter enforcement of existing by-laws and better policing could not have fixed.

Hell, if the Entertainment District still existed, an extended 4AM license across the board would make sense. With that crushing amount of people in such a condensed area, with extended subway and public transportation services, alot of the problems that came between 2AM & 3AM would simply not exist.

Alas, city council headed by an opportunistic councillor Adam Vaughn, capitalized on our culture of "no" and demonized an industry that provided hundreds of jobs and millions in tax revenue, not to mention funnelled millions more into adjacent businesses for his own political expediency. Of course after having made a name for himself destroying a world renowned entertainment offering, he has moved on quite quickly to provincial politics and left behind a mess for us to clean up.

The irony that our city council killed the one thing that was actually world class about our city isn't lost on me and it shouldn't be lost on you either. We have now come full circle where the same man that created the Entertainment District, INK's Charles Khabouth (his first club StilLife was the first venue to take advantage of the "dead by dusk" area that eventually became the Entertainment District) is looking at a glaring hole in the market and is addressing it with a truly world class idea...and city council is again, wrongly and short sightedly working against it.

This is what happens when you lack vision and understanding. You create problems that never should have existed in the first place. It's very easy to dismiss people that enjoy nightlife as "drunks, druggies and thugs", but these people are you. They are your children, your co-workers and your fellow citizens. And they want to have fun.

Where exactly did city council think those 60,000 people were going to go? People don't disappear simply because you want them to. There's an uptick in old school warehouse and DIY parties, where people are congregating in places where the authorities may not want them to anyways. It's human nature. We are social animals. The people will party whether some councillor wants them to or not.

Our no-fun council created this monster. If they hadn't shut down the Entertainment District, the prospect of one club holding 10,000 - 15,000 people simply would not exist. But it does now. So the question is, do we work with the people that want to be entertained? Or do we continue to say "no" to any idea that is too big for NIMBY minds to grasp?

Residents concerns should always be heard. But so should the citizens. And the citizens of Toronto clearly want to party. City Council should let them.

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