Inside REBEL (Image: Instagram/@rebeltoronto)

A Toronto-based entertainment company has applied to extend their current capacity to 15,000, news that is making many Toronto residents upset. Toronto Nightlife and Hospitality expert, Ken Bryan, tells us why he thinks the idea isn’t so bad… 

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 down by our waterfront. 

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

Of course, the familiar hand-wringing from City Councilors and neighbours along the waterfront have started, because God forbid people want to have a good time near anyone else. 

Unfortunately for them, the people like to party.

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 its peak, Toronto’s Entertainment District was seeing upwards of 60,000 people enter its 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 the 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 be. There were loud headlines of, “shooting in the Entertainment District” nowhere close to the actual district, simply because it happened on a Saturday night. And there was no shortage of opportunists taking advantage of that to hammer home that the district needed to be stopped. And it eventually was.

Inside REBEL (Image: Instagram/@RebelToronto)

But, 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 as it once was still existed, an extended 4am license across the board would make sense. With that crushing amount of people in such a condensed area, paired with extended subway and public transportation services, a lot of the problems that come between 2am & 3am would simply not exist.

Alas, City Council, headed by an opportunistic councilor, capitalized on our culture of “no” and demonized an industry that provided thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue, not to mention, funneled millions more into adjacent businesses for his own political expediency. Of course, after having made a name for himself by 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. 

INK Entertainment’s Charles Khabouth is looking at a glaring hole in the market and is addressing it with a truly world class idea…

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 Entertainment‘s Charles Khabouth (his first club Still Life 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 councilor wants them to or not.

We are social animals. The people will party whether some councilor wants them to or not.

Our no-fun council created this monster. If they hadn’t restricted 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? 

At a time when people under the age of 35 are the dominant demographic, do we tell them “no fun for you” and force them into underground parties, illegal after-hours and who knows what else, simply so someone can sleep with their window open on a Saturday night? God forbid streetcars or any of the other sounds that come with living in a downtown metropolis interfere with that! Or do we realize that people will never go quietly into that sweet night and make reasonable concessions with an eye to the future and livability for everyone?

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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Do you think Toronto would benefit from REBEL extending capacity to 15,000? Let Vv Magazine know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.