Homecoming draws crowd of 10,000, only 85 tickets

Low number of infractions following University District Safety Initiative implementation

Homecoming crowds numbered 10,000 this year.
Homecoming crowds numbered 10,000 this year. 
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

While a crowd of approximately 10,000 gathered in the University District on Homecoming, Kingston Police said they gave out a mere 85 tickets in a press release on Monday. 

Last year, Queen’s Homecoming resulted in 330 charges, with just under 260 open alcohol charges, according the press release. There were also 14 charges under the Highway Traffic Act, down to only two this year.

The amount of arrests also decreased by more than 50 per cent this year, from 33 in 2017 down to 13 this year. All 13 arrests this year were due solely to public intoxication.

This year’s drop in ticketing follows two new enforcement initiatives: the University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) and the Nuisance Party By-Law.

The UDSI came into effect this past move-in day as a joint effort between Queen’s and the City of Kingston to discourage dangerous behavior at large street parties during Frosh Week, Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day. The initiative includes a court summons for breaches of the Liquor Licences Act.

Meanwhile, the Nuisance Party By-Law—which addresses disruptive behavior incurred through large gatherings on private property or nuisance-related behavior—was responsible for three tickets on Saturday.

The bylaw controls large gatherings by instating a minimum fine of $500 for individuals who throw or attend a party that fits the description of a “nuisance party.”

Over the course of the weekend, Homecoming drew 74 charges related to open alcohol charges. There were only three underage drinking charges—down from 19 last year—and 13 for public intoxication.

Kingston Police also reported seizing three kegs in the University District. 

While Friday night was quiet, the crowds on Saturday “forced officers to change their focus from enforcement to crowd management for safety reasons,” Kingston Police’s press release said.

This resulted in the closures of Aberdeen and Johnson Streets between University Avenue and Division Street. 

Using the Nuisance Party By-Law, officers were able to disperse the overwhelming crowds by 4 p.m. and, despite broken glass on the roads, vehicles were able to drive through cleared streets for the rest of the day.  

Despite the overall decrease in tickets and arrests, Kingston Police maintained there’s “work still to be done.” 

In an interview with The Journal, Media Relations Officer Constable Cam Mack  said, “It’s different this year, as far as behavior and crowds were.”

He credited this to partygoers likely being aware of the possible consequences associated with the UDSI and Nuisance By-Law active during the weekend that non-compliance wasn’t an issue. 

“Awareness of the bylaw seemed to improve behavior,” Mack said. “So when our officers deemed it was safe to try and clear the streets, the crowd was generally compliant.” 

In their press release, Kingston Police extended their gratitude towards “community partners, school organizations, and emergency and medical services for their support and involvement to ensure a safe Homecoming weekend.”  

Those ticketed under the UDSI will appear in court on either Nov. 22 or Nov. 30 to settle their charges.  

Kingston General Hospital reported that 53 visits during the Saturday of Homecoming were incurred by partygoers, of which 21 were the result of physical injury.  

In an interview to The Journal, Mayor Bryan Paterson shared Mack’s sentiments. 

“I think that people were generally respectful and well-behaved and I think obviously there were tickets that needed to be issued when city bylaws were broken,” he said. “That’s really the impetus behind the Nuisance Party Bylaw and the safety initiative.”

Paterson added the weekend was a learning experience for the City and law enforcement, working in collaboration with the University and, in extension, its students. 

“My message to the student body continues to be, ‘we want you to enjoy yourselves, we want you to have fun, but also respect the bylaws and the rules the city has just like any other resident.”

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