Alternative to Aberdeen still an option

City, University, AMS discuss co-hosting alternative Homecoming party at committee meeting

Strong opinions and lively dialogue ensued on Wednesday night in a meeting held between the city, the University and the AMS regarding the possibility of an alternative Homecoming event next year.

Contrary to an article published in yesterday’s Kingston Whig-Standard, AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Naomi Lutes said the Committee for the Safe and Legal Use of Public and Private Space hasn’t yet decided against hosting an event that would be an alternative to the unsanctioned Aberdeen Street party next year.

“There wasn’t a decision made at all,” Lutes said. “We didn’t ‘kill’ the idea—we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Lutes said nothing was finalized at Wednesday’s meeting, and the committee still needs more student opinion on the matter.

“Basically, last night the city said, ‘If students want ‘X,’ then we will help them do that,” she said. “If a sanctioned party on campus is what students want, then the city said they will help us do that. We don’t know what students want.”

Queen’s sociology professor Vince Sacco has organized a series of student focus groups to determine whether an alternative Homecoming event would be the most successful option.

Lutes said no conclusion has been made yet, adding that students don’t think it is realistic to lure people away from an event on Aberdeen Street.

“We need to deal with Aberdeen—we can’t ignore it,” she said.

Lutes said the committee hoped to determine a solution for Homecoming in the next few weeks.

Floyd Patterson, city councillor for Sydenham Ward, which encompasses Aberdeen Street, said members’ opinions were mixed about the option of an alternative event.

“Opinions were expressed at the meeting that the alternative party idea would not work, for the same reason that it didn’t work behind Miller Hall,” he said, referring to the $200,000 University-sponsored concert featuring bands like Metric and Billy Talent. “Many went there but didn’t stay and went to Aberdeen.” Patterson said the committee talked about a tentative idea for an alternative event to be held at the intersection of Bader Lane and University Avenue, but that there were still factors that needed to be considered, including the use of the alternative venue and the relationship between the city, University and students.

“We haven’t closed down that idea,” Patterson said. “We are keeping everything on the table and under discussion, so that we arrive at the best decisions.”

Despite some doubtful opinions expressed about the idea, Patterson said, there were strong opinions expressed about the need for student involvement.

“Anything that happens [and] any party that goes on, it has to be initiated by and inspired by the students at Queen’s,” he said. “That is the major qualifying factor. In other words, if there is to be an alternative party venue accepted, the students themselves have to agree to it.”

VP (Academic) Patrick Deane could not be reached for comment, but also attended the meeting.

“[Deane] was impressed with what the committee is doing, [which is] trying to improve relations between the University and students with the city,” Patterson said.

The committee also discussed how housing standards affect relations between students and the city , Patterson said.

“There was feedback from two or three of the members that students think that the community is ‘anti-student’,” he said. “As councillor, I am of the opinion that that is wrong.”

Patterson said the committee agreed that the City needs to find a solution to get landlords to abide by the Ontario building codes and property standards by the City of Kingston.

The committee has invited next year’s AMS executive, Team MBT, to come to their next meeting on March 2, Patterson said.

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