Homecoming recommendations passed at city council meeting

Committee encourages student responsibility, balanced reporting

Right to left, Councillor Floyd Patterson listens to council on July 18 while councillors Ed Smith and George Stoparczyk look on.
Right to left, Councillor Floyd Patterson listens to council on July 18 while councillors Ed Smith and George Stoparczyk look on.

Kingston City Council has moved one step closer to trying to improve this year’s Homecoming.

Last year, about 5,000 people partied on Aberdeen Street during Homecoming weekend and a car was overturned and set on fire.

Council passed all 17 recommendations made by the Committee for the Safe and Legal Use of Public and Private Space at last Tuesday’s council meeting, with only a few council members voting against one or two of the recommendations.

“It’s a difficult issue and I think the committee did the best job they could in the circumstances,” Mayor Harvey Rosen told the Journal. “It certainly brought the various players in this particular situation together to discuss possible solutions, and it’s never bad to have open lines of communication.” The committee of students, politicians and University administration was created in October with the intention of presenting a report to city council in July.

Ryan Quinlan-Keech, AMS municipal affairs commissioner, said the AMS encouraged open and reasoned dialogue after last year’s Homecoming.

“We present to you tonight the product of that reasoned dialogue,” Quinlan-Keech said.

One of the committee’s recommendations suggested that committee members “meet with local news people and Queen’s media to encourage balanced reporting during the lead up to Homecoming,” in spite of recommendations to the contrary from the city’s communications department.

It elicited laughter from one of the councillors.

Quinlan-Keech, Rosen, Patterson and Janice Deakin, who served on the committee as acting dean of student affairs but is now graduate studies chair, all stressed that a “catch-all” solution doesn’t exist.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Quinlan-Keech said to council, adding that safety for all must be “the absolute and overriding priority.”

“What unites us as Kingstonians is far greater than what divides us,” Quinlan-Keech told the council.

Rosen said some of the recommendations were somewhat vague “motherhood statements,” which was what he’d expected.

“In my experience, those sort of motherhood issues are dear to committees’ hearts and will appear notwithstanding what I want to say,” he said. “I suppose it doesn’t hurt to support motherhood, and at least it shows their hearts are in the right places.”

Council will now follow up on these recommendations with various groups involved, including University administration and the Police Services Board.

--With files from Anna Mehler Paperny

The Recommendation's Highlights

  • That University administration and students work together to plan safe and inclusive activities in a non-residential setting, and encourage alumni participation.
  • That University and community expectations regarding students at Homecoming events are made clear and emphasize responsible and legal behaviour.
  • That students be required to read and sign the University’s Code of Conduct.
  • That the city work with the University to ensure that students are aware of the laws and by-laws, and that the Police Services Board enforce them.
  • That the Police Services Board increase video surveillance in the Aberdeen Street area for Homecoming weekend, and that council directs city staff to increase lighting in the Aberdeen Street area.
  • That committee members meet with local media and Queen’s media “to encourage balanced reporting during the lead-up to Homecoming.”
  • That the University incorporate efforts of city officials and community members during orientation week to welcome students into the community.
  • That police work with students and the University to develop “an appropriate policing model.”
  • That University administration offer a general education program for first-year students that stresses civic responsibilities and positive community relations.
  • That the city review the waste management policy within the Ghetto.
  • That the council petitions the provincial government to permit special licensing of multi-tenant housing.
  • That council take appropriate steps to petition the provincial government for changes to the regulations under the Liquor License Act to curb the sale of beer kegs to anyone other than those licensed to dispense alcohol.

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