Swaths of students took to Aberdeen St. for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on both March 17 and 18 which posed an “immediate threat to safety in the area,” according to Kingston Police.
Kingston Police issued 373 court summons and arrest, while bylaw enforcement issued 47 fines totaling $19,100 over the weekend.
Despite celebrations being similar to previous years, the Police said they provided proactive messaging to communities around the University District—which enabled them to keep the community and staff safe.
“This messaging played a vital role in ensuring that all attendees were aware of expectations in advance of the event,” Kingston Police Chief Scott Fraser said in a press release on March 22.
“This model is something we will continue to use and build upon in the future.”
The University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) is implemented during peak times for nuisance parties, increasing the price of the fines handed out. It was in effect from March 9 to 19.
Bylaw Enforcement, Police Liaison Team, and Queen’s Student Affairs conducted a door-to-door education awareness campaign for students in the district. Among them was Sydenham City Councillor Conny Glenn.
St. Patrick’s Day was Glenn’s first time as Councillor during a sizeable unsanctioned event. She had ideas to mitigate the unsafe aspects of large gatherings in the future.
“When the alcohol goes in the sense goes out. Add to that low expectations and practically no consequences,” Glenn said in a tweet, responding to an article in The Whig Standard and tagging Queen’s.
She said it’s not her responsibility to oversee student behavior. Glenn told The Journal she has the same expectations for Queen’s students as any Kingston resident. Students have unique needs, but so do other members of the population, like seniors, according to Glenn.
“[Street parties] create a feeling of mistrust—creates fear. I’ve had residents who are afraid to go out in the evening,” Glenn said.
Student actions last weekend were no surprise, Glenn said. Glenn noted complaints of students being aggressive and trespassing.
“Residents are in a difficult spot […] oftentimes if there’s aggressive behaviors, [they] call the police. And I don’t think anybody likes having to do that,” Glenn said.
Street parties cut off citizen and emergency access to necessary areas, according to Glenn. The City and Police have been taking a different approach prior to the event by going door-to-door in student areas.
“[The City is] really trying to make sure that the student population is aware of, the expectations, the risks, and also the potential fines […] I think that’s still a healthy approach,” she continued.
She acknowledged a lot of the talk about students is negative but says there are many “good” students as well, citing an example of students helping older citizens over snowbanks.
By taking events—such as St. Patrick’s Day—and adding structure based on “what students want,” Glenn says Kingston can integrate students into the city better.
“The biggest thing we can do is to establish good relationships […] the City is here to work with [students], not against them,” Glenn said.
As a harm reduction measure, the AMS handed out free food, snacks, and Gatorade in front of the ARC on Earl St. on Saturday. The University outlined its new social media campaigns to keep the day “safe, respectful and inclusive” in a statement on March 10.
“Queen’s is providing students with information on safer alcohol consumption, as well as other options, such as substance-free programming for students who choose not to drink,” the statement said.
The University launched a social media campaign until the end of the weekend with ads targeting “risky behaviour.”
When asked about their responsibilities over student behavior, harm reduction measures, and the dangers posed to local Kingstonians by nuisance parties, the University did not respond to The Journal’s request for comment at time of publication.
Events, police, St. Patrick's Day, UDSI, University District
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