Four major charges laid after massive 4,000 person party throughout Kingston's University District
KINGSTON -- Kingston bylaw says four people are facing minimum $10,000 penalties, and more could be on the way, after a 4,000-person party in the city's university district.
Kyle Compeau, the city's licence and enforcement manager, confirmed to CTV News that four people were found hosting a 200 person gathering at their home on Thursday night. That's outside the COVID-19 provincial rules of maximum 100 person gatherings outside and 25 inside.
They have been given a summons and could face a minimum $10,000 fine under the Reopening Ontario Act.
Compeau says that they are also investigating the potential to lay charges in connection with a separate party on Albert Street.
"Not only is the city, but the community in general, is frustrated and disappointed with this. And our enforcement strategy is going to continue to be zero tolerance with this approach,"explains Compeau.
Kingston Police Chief Antje McNeely echoed that in a statement to CTV News.
"The Kingston Police continue to be disappointed with the large unlawful gatherings of individuals in the University District, which pose unnecessary public health risks to our community during the COVID-19 pandemic," she wrote. "We are also concerned with the increased display of willful disregard for public safety and the hostility directed at both police and bylaw officers as they attempted to clear the streets, not only to allow traffic and emergency vehicles to move freely in the area but also to address safety concerns about individuals walking on the roadways and into live lanes of traffic.”
Every year, street parties prove to be a major issue for the city.
Dr. Hugh Guan—Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health's temporary medical officer of health—says this year it's more concerning because of the pandemic.
"These street parties are people that are very very close to each other, which is different than, say, in other settings, which again increases the chance of COVID transmission," he says.
Ninety per cent of Queen's students are fully vaccinated, and that number is expected to go up in the coming weeks. It's mandatory that students be fully vaccinated to live and work on campus.
In an email to students on Thursday, Principal Patrick Deane says this is the actions of a few students, but still is disappointing.
"This is a flagrant disregard for public health and for the law of our province. We support our city enforcement officers and police as they work to address these illegal activities and we will work with our partners when they refer students to us for processing under our Student Code of Conduct," Deane wrote.
"We have come so far and it would be a travesty if we could not get back to what we have all been waiting for so very long. Universities are for learning. Please remember that this weekend and over the coming months and let's be sure that we will be learning in classrooms next week and all the months to follow."
Public health warns that under the Delta variant we could see cases go up in the coming weeks because of these gatherings.
Heading into the long weekend, Compeau confirms they'll have more officers on the streets to police the growing crowds.