Following their March 6 reading, Kingston City Council passed a bylaw that will put street partygoers at risk of facing hefty fines.
The Nuisance Party Bylaw is aimed at controlling large social gatherings within the municipality by instating a minimum fine of $500 for individuals who throw or attend a party that fits the description of a “nuisance party.”
As provided in a submission to City Council in November, the term “nuisance party” is defined as a gathering that isn’t contained entirely within a dwelling and occupies a public space, possibly impeding on the deliverance of emergency services in the process.
In the Feb. 20 City Council meeting, the Nuisance Party Bylaw was submitted for approval where all councillors present unanimously approved the report as proposed. It didn’t take effect until after the Mar. 6 final reading.
The purpose of the bylaw is to provide police with a mechanism to control behavior that impedes on the safety of the community and the partygoers themselves. A nuisance party can only be declared by officers who are on duty but not present at the scene. These officers will be in communication with those officers who are on the scene.
Following this, officers will ask hosts to end the gathering and for individuals to disperse. When students don’t obey officers, a fine will be administered. According to the bylaw, “[a]ny person who creates, causes, hosts, sponsors, conducts, continues, or attends a nuisance party could be charged under a nuisance party bylaw.”
In an email to The Journal, Kingston Policy and Program Coordinator Greg McLean wrote “[s]taff looked to the Ontario cities of London and Guelph which had already passed bylaws to address nuisance parties.”
“The idea for a draft bylaw was prompted by ongoing concerns expressed by residents across the City regarding the continuing impact of nuisance behaviors associated with large social gatherings in their neighborhoods,” McLean added. “[A]nd by concerns that these large parties could create a substantial risk to the health and safety of participants and neighborhoods.”
For the Queen’s community in particular, the nuisance party bylaw will command a strong police presence at events such as Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day.
AMS Commissioner of Municipal Affairs Stefano Hollands wrote in an email to The Journal that the “Nuisance Bylaw is not intended to prevent house parties in any way,” nor is it “intended to prevent students from ‘having fun.’”
According to both McLean and Hollands, the AMS has consulted with the City of Kingston several times to ensure student concerns were met.
When working with the city, Hollands said consultations commanded the AMS to work maturely and in a constructive fashion. While the bylaw would most significantly impact the Queen’s community, Hollands reiterated from his interpretation that the city “did not want to present a bylaw to council that would serve to alienate students in any way.”
Following the third reading, the bylaw will be extended for review to stakeholder groups. Here, it will be determined what the best way is to present the details and its implications to the residents of Kingston.
This story was updated to reflect that the bylaw was officially approved on Feb. 20, but wouldn’t come into effect until the third reading was complete.
The headline was updated to reflect the date the bylaw would take effect.
The Journal regrets the error.
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