With Homecoming weekend around the corner, the University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) swung into action on Oct. 14.
The City of Kingston implemented the UDSI on Oct. 14. It will remain in effect until Nov. 1 in anticipation of Homecoming weekend and Halloween. The UDSI increases the penalties students face for bylaw violations.
“There will be fines and penalties issued to those who don’t follow the laws in place,” said Kyle Compeau, manager of enforcement at the city of Kingston, in the Kingston Police Media Release.
Individuals who commit an identified offence under the Nuisance Party Bylaw may be issued a Part I Court Summons or an Administrative Monetary Penalty (AMP) after the St. Patrick’s Day weekend while the UDSI initiatives are in place.
Police can declare any gathering a nuisance party if there’s public intoxication, damaged property, blocked traffic, disruption to emergency services, and loud, unwanted noises like shouting.
AMPs are fines issued to individuals violating the Nuisance Party and Noise Bylaws. AMPs don’t require individuals to appear in court and can be resolved by paying the City.
The updated penalties include $2,000 for hosting a nuisance party, $500 for failing to comply with an order to leave a premises, and $500 for using a closed highway, which includes all streets in the University District. The City’s definition of highway extends to any public road or area meant for the passage of vehicles or people.
According to the City of Kingston, an offence under the Noise Bylaw, such as amplified music, will result in a $200 fine, while activities like yelling, screaming, shouting, hooting, and hollering incur a $100 fine.
Carrying a higher risk to students, individuals who violate Ontario’s Liquor License and Control Act will receive a Part I Court Summons. The individual will be summoned to the Kingston Courthouse for a court hearing presided over by a Justice of the Peace.
Actions prohibited under Ontario’s Liquor Licence and Control Act include consuming alcohol under 19 years of age, having or consuming open alcohol, and being intoxicated in public spaces.
“We want to remind everyone that reckless partying and high-risk nuisance behaviour can have a serious impact on your future,” Lillian Murdock, Kingston Police inspector, said in a Kingston Police Media Release.
Queen’s is supporting the City of Kingston by informing students about the UDSI and its provisions, City Councillor for Sydenham District Conny Glenn shared in an interview with The Journal. Glenn’s district includes the University District, where many Queen’s students reside over the school year.
“One of the things I’m working on proactively is getting a bigger and better plan for these large events,” Glenn said. “One of the things I brought to council was a motion to extend food trucks [during Homecoming]. Unfortunately, we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked to have mapped out a plan.”
Queen’s announced in February 2022 the University would provide the City with funding over five years to alleviate the financial strain on the City caused by Queen’s events. The allocation of the funding is determined on an annual basis by the city.
Previous Queen’s events amounted to approximately $1.5 million in costs for the City due to increased police presence at street parties during events such as Homecoming, according to Glenn.
There are 158 police officers in the Kingston Police force, according to Glenn. At any given time, only about 50 officers are on duty to respond to incidents across Kingston. Police monitor Aberdeen St. for nuisance parties, but this year, they’ll also be closing the Gord Edgar Downie Pier during the evening to deter partygoers.
“When something like Homecoming happens, and we get 1,000 people or more at a street party, you can imagine the officers are quite outnumbered. We ended up having to call in other jurisdictions to come and assist us. Last year there were police from Ottawa,” Glenn said.
The goal for Kingston Police with the University District is minimizing disruption to the community during what can be a rowdy period. Pressure to keep students safe has grown over the years with more students attending Queen’s, Glenn explained.
“The whole focus is to make sure things are well managed, that nobody gets injured or hurt. That’s the first thing we’re trying to do is make sure that nobody gets hurt,” Glenn said.
Kingston Police and City bylaw are working closely with Queen’s University, Kingston Fire & Rescue, Frontenac Paramedics, Kingston Health Sciences Centre, and other partners to ensure minimal damage occurs in the community.
“You’re my constituents,” Glenn said, speaking to Queen’s students. “I have the same expectations from all of my constituents. This is about respect for you, as adults, young adults attending school here, but also about respect for the people who live in the neighbourhood.”
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