City council approves Aberdeen Street closure

Queen's approach 'not going to be focused solely on that night,' Deane says

For the third year in a row, Aberdeen Street will be closed on the Saturday of Homecoming weekend.

On June 17, Kingston’s city council voted 8-2 in favour of the motion to close the street the night of Sept. 27.

The Aberdeen Working Group, comprised of representatives from the city, Queen’s administration, police and the student body, is committed to eliminating the street party by Homecoming in 2009.

Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane said the Queen’s administration’s approach to Aberdeen will extend to education initiatives throughout the year.

The five page report also includes outlines of six strategies to meet the 2009 deadline, such as safety and enforcement, preserving and strengthening existing partnerships, meaningful alumni-student interaction at Homecoming, communication to students and community, stakeholder engagement, and student quality of life initiatives.

“The approach to Aberdeen this year is not going to be focused solely on that night,” Deane said. “It is going to begin in the summer in anticipation of the climate of problems we’ve had with student behaviour in the fall and year-round.”

Deane said the committee has seen success with some of its initiatives, including increased lighting and volunteer and police presence.

“We have qualitatively seen an improvement from the car burning of 2005 to last year,” he said. “I won’t pretend that it would be easy to quantify these things.”

AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Paul Tye said the AMS is committed to putting an end to Aberdeen through its involvement in the Aberdeen Working Group.

“The AMS genuinely wants to see an end to this problem, and a permanent end.”

Tye said closing Aberdeen Street will allow the AMS to work with a number of initiatives that have proved successful during past Aberdeen street parties.

“By conducting the street closure we will once again be able to work with dedicated alumni and community members through such initiatives as the red hat volunteer program,” he said.

Queen’s Principal Tom Williams said the Aberdeen Working Group will begin its work during orientation week and continue during the first few weeks of classes.

“There is a link between orientation week and Homecoming,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is to work with the incoming students.”

Williams said Queen’s isn’t solely responsible for the unsanctioned event and doesn’t intend to carry the full financial burden of the costs associated with Homecoming.

“This is not just a Queen’s problem. This is a Kingston problem,” he said, adding that Queen’s will make a “significant contribution after the fact.”

“Our plan is not policing, our job is educating,” he said. “We plan to educate the students.”

—With files from Angela Hickman

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