Kingston City Council considering ‘nuisance party’ bylaw

University District

Public consultations underway to inform drafting of legislation

Kingston's Mayor Bryan Paterson.

Public consultations were held at City Hall on Monday to gather input from the community on a potential ‘nuisance party’ bylaw. After the consultation process, the Kingston City Council hopes to have a draft Nuisance Party Bylaw for consideration in early 2018. 

According to a staff report, the bylaw would give law enforcement “a mechanism to direct and disperse people where the gathering has become a public nuisance.” If passed, it could carry heavy fines for non-compliant individuals.

“The intended scope of a Nuisance Party Bylaw proposed for the City of Kingston would be limited to addressing behaviour specific to large social gatherings or parties, rather than a catch-all bylaw attempting to curtail all public nuisance behaviour,” read the report.

After a Homecoming weekend where Kingston Police made 33 arrests and laid more than 330 charges, community members have called for new methods for law enforcement to tackle the issue. 

In October, Principal Daniel Woolf told The Kingston Whig-Standard, “next year I think we do need some creative thinking around” Homecoming weekend.

Several municipalities in Ontario have already taken similar steps. In London — the home of Western University and Fanshawe College — they introduced a similar bylaw to the one purposed in Kingston earlier this year. The London bylaw carries fines up to $750 for nuisance gatherings.

AMS Commissioner of Municipal Affairs Stefano Hollands told The Journal his office has been coordinating with the city on the issue since the summer.

“The City of Kingston wants to take a pretty moderate, balanced approach,” he said. “They certainly don’t want to alienate students in the community and they don’t want this to be a huge divisive, polarizing issue.”

Hollands said the bylaw is intended for “extreme circumstances” and students shouldn’t expect officers to be handing out expensive fines “on a whim.”

A key element of the proposal is how officers will classify a ‘nuisance party.’ According to a staff report, an officer of a “designated rank” will determine whether or not a gathering constitutes a nuisance party. It’s only once a party has been classified by a high-ranking official that police can issue fines.

“Once a social gathering has been declared a Nuisance Party, Police Officers could then order that the behaviour (Nuisance Party) cease and that people attending the party disperse,” read the report.

Hollands stressed party hosts won’t be arbitrarily slapped with fines. “Party hosts will be given a designated time window, anywhere between ten and twenty minutes to actually vacate their premises.” He added, “as long as there is compliance, no student will take on any fine.”

“This bylaw is reserved for the cases where police have lost control of the situation and the host and party-goers are not complying with police orders. I don’t know that many people who wouldn’t comply with a police order. So for the vast majority of Queen’s students, you will not interact with this bylaw.”

Hollands told The Journal he plans to deliver a presentation on the proposed bylaws at Thursday’s AMS Assembly. 

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