AMS unsure if Aberdeen Street to close

Second volunteer centre, increased communication focus of changes to Homecoming 2007 plans

Insp. Brian Cookman listens at the Police Services meeting yesterday.
Insp. Brian Cookman listens at the Police Services meeting yesterday.
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The AMS is sticking to last year’s game plan when preparing for Homecoming 2007, said President Kingsley Chak.

“The city and the AMS and the administration are working very closely together,” he said. “The main goal for us is to maintain public safety. The police and us have been talking to see how we can achieve that goal together.”

Chak said the AMS’s general approach to Homecoming will be the same, and they will continue to work with the city and the Kingston police.

“There are minor improvements on the plan from what we learned from last year. This year, one important point is that we’re working closer together with the different stakeholders for that night.”

Chak said minor tweaks will be made to the AMS’s Homecoming plan, including a second outreach centre on Aberdeen Street.

Last year, the AMS used the house at 11 Aberdeen street as a home base for its volunteers.

Chak said he is not sure if Aberdeen Street will be closed for Homecoming weekend.

“We don’t know for sure yet, we submitted the application and are waiting to see what happens,” he said.

Chak said broken glass in the streets was a major concern leading up to Homecoming 2006, an issue that was rectified by the 400 red-hat volunteers who took to the streets on Homecoming weekend. The volunteers handed out water and bags of popcorn, and exchanged plastic cups for beer bottles.

“Last year ... the major concern was the glass bottles. We had volunteers who take the glass away and would exchange with plastics cups,” he said. “They go around, talking to people, making sure everything’s okay.”

Chak said the colour of the hats worn by the volunteers will change to distinguish from last year because partygoers may also wear red hats, which could cause confusion.

“We haven’t totally decided on the hat colour yet. We’re calling them Aberdeen Street volunteers,” he said. “If we have red again, and everyone is wearing a red hat, it doesn’t help to recognize the volunteer. We want the volunteers to be recognizable.”

Chak cited red-hat volunteers as an important aspect of keeping Homecoming parties and students safe.

“Those initiatives are really important. The AMS also has volunteers to help clean up the streets with the help of the City of Kingston,” he said. “We have paramedics and first aid ready in case anything happens.”

Chak said the red-hat volunteers were well-received by partygoers.

“We heard stories that when someone dropped a beer bottle, everyone booed. That is the kind of attitude we need to have to make sure everything is safe. People welcome the red-hat volunteers, and know that they’re there to keep everyone safe. It’s very collegial, and their appearance is not confrontational.”

Chak said because Homecoming 2006 was a relative success compared to the previous year, he hopes the negative connotation associated with Homecoming will dissipate. “That negative connotation has been slowly drifting away. It was unfortunate what happened in 2005, but keep in mind that 2006 was great because it was calm,” he said.

“We identified that there’s an issue that needs to be resolved, and the city, University and AMS will work close together to find a solution rather than pointing fingers at each other.”

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