Council strikes group to discuss Aberdeen

Second committee created since 2005 will address Homecoming, housing standards

Councilor Bill Glover put forward the motion passed at council.
Councilor Bill Glover put forward the motion passed at council.

Council passed a motion Tuesday night creating a working group to discuss issues surrounding the Aberdeen Street party and the enforcement of property standards in the student Ghetto.

The group will be lead by the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Glen Laubenstein and will make monthly reports to council beginning in January. The University has been invited to nominate someone to participate in discussions. Laubenstein said preliminary discussions will involve members of city staff, the University, Public Works and the Kingston police.

Following the Aberdeen Street party during Homecoming 2005, Council struck a similar committee to explore the Aberdeen Street party and town-gown relations.

The Committee for the Safe and Legal Use of Public and Private Space, previously the Committee to Restore Order, published several recommendations to improve town-gown relations, in the summer of 2006.

Laubenstein said the group won’t ignore discussion that has already taken place.

“We’ll be incorporating a lot of work that’s already been done.”

He said he thinks this group will be more effective than previous because the city will play a more central role.

Sydenham Ward councillor Bill Glover put the motion forward.

Glover said the working group will be different from the Committee for the Safe and Legal Use of Private and Public Space because the timeline for this group will be shorter, the group’s mandate will be broader, and he expects the group to be more transparent than the previous committee.

“There’s a widespread feeling among a lot of people that Queen’s representatives at the meeting were saying one thing and actively working to achieve something else.” He cited Queen’s request to close Aberdeen Street this year, counter to the recommendation that the party be moved to a non-residential area, as an example.

Glover said the issue of student housing in connection with poor student behavior needs to be addressed.

“Students for a number of years … have been saying that essentially, “You expect us to live in a pigsty so why can’t we behave like pigs?’” He said he hopes discussions will result in legislation regulating the upholding of property standards.

Because the group will report to council, no councillors will be involved in the meetings.

Former Sydenham Ward councillor Floyd Patterson said he thinks this group will be more effective than its predecessor because the new working group will be directed by city officials.

He said the term “working group” will give those involved more power to make change.

“You’re going to have a group of people who are at the top of the pecking order, not the bottom, and they have the authority to act sooner.”

Patterson said he thought his committee had a positive effect on the community.

“The main effect of the committee was that it kept the issue before the public.” In previous years, he said, after public reaction had dissipated, the issue was forgotten until the next time there was a problem.

Kaitlyn Young, municipal affairs commissioner for the AMS, said she hopes to be a part of the group.

She said she thinks another opportunity for dialogue between the University and the city can only be a good thing.

“In 2006, with the partnership approach that was adopted, we saw a significant improvement on the street.” Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane agreed the scope of the group’s mandate will make a difference. He said he is pleased council is willing to address student housing issues, not just the Aberdeen Street party.

“We’re very keen to do this because there are other issues we can address.”

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