City can’t cop out on police bill

On Oct. 16, city councillors voted by a margin of 11 to two in favour of asking Queen’s to cover the policing costs of Homecoming 2007. The bill is estimated to be as high as $353,000, including the police costs from the Ontario Provincial Police public order unit, the Toronto public order unit and the Kingston police.

Although the Aberdeen Street party isn’t a University-sanctioned event, the city feels Queen’s has a duty to pay and the money should be detracted from the thousands of dollars that Queen’s “rakes in,” according to councillor Steve Garrison. Garrison suggested that by refusing to foot the bill, Queen’s is harming the fragile relationship between Kingston and the University.

Considering the ridiculousness of the city’s appeal, the Queen’s administration has so far handled the situation reasonably—the University hasn’t rejected the option of covering some costs, but has said the council’s decision is merely a statement of opinion rather than a coercive measure. It’s encouraging that Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane has made it clear he thinks the city is making an unreasonable request.

Last year, Queen’s gave the city $100,000 prior to Homecoming to cover costs as a goodwill gesture, after approaching the city to discuss costs. One year later, the city is taking a more hard-line approach by effectively handing the University a $300,000 bill. It’s clear that with departmental budget cuts and construction costs, Queen’s isn’t looking for new and unnecessary places to spend money.

The fact is a significant number of those Aberdeen partiers weren’t Queen’s students and were equally responsible for any incurred costs—a matter city council seems to have conveniently ignored. In addition, it’s unjustifiable to ask Queen’s students, many of whom weren’t involved in any Homecoming events, to pick up a tab they weren’t there to run up.

Most disconcerting are the implications of such a request. By appealing to Queen’s to cover the bill, the city insinuates students—as residents and taxpayers—aren’t owed the same service the police must give to every other Kingston resident. Council’s demand for cash only fuels the Council’s ongoing “us-versus-them” mentality that has infiltrated Kingston-student relations.

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