Student safety audit stalled

Municipal Affairs Commission says year-old security project never brought to City

A safety audit of the Student Ghetto won’t be fulfilled as planned.
A safety audit of the Student Ghetto won’t be fulfilled as planned.
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Nearly a year since the AMS launched a safety audit of the housing areas surrounding the University, the Municipal Affairs Commission has yet to make changes to reflect audit results.

The safety audits, which were a joint project between the Municipal Affairs Commission and Campus Security, were to investigate physical aspects of the areas around campus that may affect the safety of students.

Through a series of stages, the area to be covered extended from Earl St. to Mack St., to Ontario St. on the east and Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd. on the west.

The audits, which ran throughout September and October of last year, noted safety hazards that included poor lighting, overgrown bushes and high hedges surrounding student housing and frequented passageways

According to Troy Sherman, last year’s municipal affairs commissioner, the goal of the audit, which was to send a full report to the to the Quality of Life Working Group and the Property Standards Division of the City, was never realized.

“Just because of the sheer quantity of data, that didn’t end up happening,” he said. “We were unable to do so because we had one [Campus Security] staff member going through all that data and trying to put out a report.”

Sherman said the enormous amount of papers, together with the complexity of the documents, made it challenging to fulfill.

“Each security officer wrote it differently. So you are trying to decode that,” he said. “Campus Security has a finite amount of resources.”

Since no full report was issued, Sherman added, there were no steps were taken by the City of Kingston as a result of the audit, although it did create discussion around the issue of safety.

Sherman said the City of Kingston installed white LED lights on streets in the audited area, which are brighter than its original streetlights. However, he said the City was already planning to install them before the audit.

“We didn’t have to lobby about something the City was already doing,” he said.

The white LED lights were installed on University Ave. and streets north of Johnson St. in the Student Ghetto, as well as throughout the downtown area. Despite this, Sherman said the audit was still useful for bringing up discussion about student safety and ensuring that there were no major safety issues in the area.

“There are no major red flags,” he said. “Nothing that made us go, ‘wow, we never saw that before’ …. if there was, you can guarantee that Campus Security would have said ‘We need to fix this right now.’”

Catherine Wright, the current municipal affairs commissioner, said the data is being used to contact landlords who need to improve their properties.

She said the City of Kingston has agreed to send landlords emails through the Building and Property Standards Division email notification system.

According to Wright, landlords will be emailed with recommendations on how to improve their properties.

The main concerns were poor lighting and overgrown bushes, she said, adding that overgrown bushes affect lighting, while large hedges make it easier to hide and attack a person walking through an alleyway.

She said the data won’t be processed into a report nor sent to the Quality of Life Working Group and the Building and Property Standards Division of the City as originally planned, as it will only be used on a case-by-case basis to offer advice to landlords.

“The original plan was mailing them to all the landlords, which would take too long,” she said.

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