Lights, cameras wanted for action on Aberdeen

The Committee for the Safe and Legal Use of Public and Private Space met yesterday.
The Committee for the Safe and Legal Use of Public and Private Space met yesterday.

The Committee for the Safe and Legal Use of Public and Private Space voted yesterday to recommend the provision of surveillance cameras and bright lighting on Aberdeen Street for the duration of Homecoming Weekend 2006.

Floyd Patterson, councillor for Sydenham Ward and chair of the committee, said the cameras would be controlled by a person who would have the ability to zoom in on situations and the presence of cameras would be highly publicized. He added he was happy with the progress made at last night’s meeting.

However AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Naomi Lutes, who abstained from voting on the motion, said she thought student opinion of the use of surveillance cameras would be negative.

“I don’t think students will be happy about surveillance cameras, but improving lighting is a good thing,” she said. The recommendation was passed with five votes in favour and two abstentions.

Two other recommendations, to be voted on at the Committee’s next meeting on Mar. 22, concern property standards and urban planning.

“The first is to ask city council to require better property standards enforcement in the student housing area,” Patterson said. “The second is to encourage city council to initiate an urban planning review of the student housing area north of campus aimed at improving the quality of life in the neighborhood.”

AMS VP (University Affairs)-elect Meghan Teuber, Comm ‘08, attended the meeting and said she was impressed with the direction of the Committee.

“It definitely was a problem the way that Homecoming went down this year, and we would definitely like to see that change,” she told the Committee. “In moving forward I think that it is really important for bodies like this to make their recommendations and listen to the voices of all the people that events like Homecoming do affect.”

Teuber added that the AMS executive-elect, Team MBT, have pledged to work to solve the problems that occurred on Aberdeen Street during last September’s Homecoming as part of the team’s “12 promises in 12 months” platform.

The Committee discussed options like creating more R.I.D.E. programs in the Ghetto, increasing student knowledge of city bylaws, and improving property standards.

Committee member Cynthia Beach, a commissioner of the Sustainability and Growth Group with the City of Kingston, told the meeting improving property standards is important.

“Any proactive step that we take keeps [housing] from getting worse,” she said.

While discussing the option of an alternative event, members echoed opinions expressed at past meetings.

“If the student body isn’t part [of planning an alternative], then it is not going to work,” said Ed Smith, councillor of Williamsville.

Smith pointed out that last year’s University-organized alternative event, a concert that cost $200,000, didn’t draw students away from the street party on Aberdeen.

Paul Fay, a lawyer and member of the Committee, said one problem with organizing an alternative event was the lack of spontaneity.

“The whole problem here, and part of the appeal [of Aberdeen], is that students are not supposed to be doing it,” he said.

As for possibly holding a safer event on Aberdeen Street, members’ opinions were mixed.

Fay said it was unlikely that an organized event on Aberdeen Street would get insurance, and that the dangers of potential injury could lead to lawsuits. Kingston Police Deputy Chief Dan Murphy said he felt the city would not agree to an organized street party.

“There is no way this city wants that to occur, peaceful or not,” he said.

Smith disagreed and said the event could work if it was done in a reasonable and responsible manner.

The Committee’s next meeting will be on Wednesday, March 22 at 4:00 p.m. in the Loyalist Room at City Hall.

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