Closure rests on city council debate

Sydenham ward councillor awaits statement from Hitchcock before casting vote

Bill Glover hopes the University will look for solutions to student misbehaviour year ’round.
Bill Glover hopes the University will look for solutions to student misbehaviour year ’round.
Journal File Photo

The contents of councillor Bill Glover’s mailbox Monday morning will determine whether or not he will vote in favour of closing Aberdeen Street for the Saturday of Homecoming.

The AMS and the University applied for the street closure two months ago.

Glover, councillor for Sydenham ward, which includes the infamous stretch of the Ghetto, said he is waiting on a letter from Principal Karen Hitchcock before deciding whether or not to endorse the closure.

“I’m hoping to hear the University is seriously engaged in the problem of year-round student misbehaviour on the part of a group of students,” he said, adding that he appreciates that not all students are destructive, but the behaviour of the minority needs to be constantly checked.

The University needs a concrete plan to address the issue, he said.

“I want to see that the University is committed to action—not just words, but action—and they make policy to enforce the actions and then [make] resources available to implement the action.”

Glover said Homecoming itself isn’t his primary concern. He sees the event as a symptom of a greater problem related to alcohol abuse among the Queen’s student population.

Glover said his discussions with Hitchcock have convinced him the University recognizes the problem.

“I’m certainly getting the sense that they understand that there’s an issue but I’m not certain we are on the same page when it comes to what the issue is.”

Glover said the University has a tendency to attribute the chaos of Homecoming to the arrival of hundreds of out-of-town revelers, many of whom have no affiliation with Queen’s.

“The University has got to recognize that we are dealing with Queen’s people.”

As with any other party requesting a road closure for an event, the AMS submitted the request to the City of Kingston along with proof of insurance of $2 million. Usually, city staff reviews the paperwork and grants the request without the approval of council, but council members can ask that the request be put to a city council vote.

The AMS’s request will go to council next Tuesday at the request of Rob Matheson, councillor for Loyalist-Cataraqui district.

Glover said the problems associated with Homecoming have consequences that reach far beyond one weekend.

“What is happening this year—again, year after year, and Queen’s has failed to take any significant action, [and], a) is driving away long-term residents … and, b) is having an obvious effect on faculty saying they no longer want to be here.”

Glover said he has received letters from community members living in and around the Ghetto, including University faculty, telling him they feel unsafe because of student behaviour.

“A faculty member has told me they’ve already evacuated their children once this year and expect to do it again at Homecoming.”

While many consider Homecoming 2006 to be a success when compared to the near-riot of the previous year, when partiers flipped a car and set it on fire, Glover said last year’s party still wasn’t anywhere close to being safe.

“None of you have any comprehension of what a safe night is,” he said. “Go look at the emergency room admission stats from last year and tell me it was a safe night.”

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