Kingston, Ont. police, bylaw expect 16,000 people at University District parties
KINGSTON, ONT. -- Officials are expecting up to 16,000 people to descend on the University District in Kingston, Ont. this weekend, more than double the number at parties last weekend during Queen’s University’s homecoming celebration.
About 8,000 people gathered in the residential area near Queen's campus last weekend, with more than 100 fines issued for violations. On two occasions, police declared the area an aggravated nuisance party, moving officers in to clear the streets and handout tickets for attending or hosting an illegal party.
Now, with students back in Kingston after the Fall Reading Week, Kingston Bylaw says larger parties are expected this weekend for a second weekend of homecoming festivities.
"The blatant disregard for the enforcement stance that we had for last weekend, there's no tolerance for this and there continues to be zero tolerance for this," said Kyle Campeau of Kingston Bylaw, adding all officers would be deployed this weekend.
In a statement on Friday, the city said law enforcement and first responders are "prepared for illegal gatherings and high-risk behaviours like the ones witnessed last weekend."
"It was Reading Week for the university and the majority of the students were at home, which is scary situation," said Campeau about the situation last weekend. "Now going into this weekend, with the students, we're anticipating there's going to be more activity this weekend."
Queen's University is urging students to 'think again' and avoid large unsanctioned gatherings this weekend.
"For your own personal safety and that of others, I urge you to re-think your participation in these activities – especially if drugs or alcohol are involved, as there is a risk of being insufficiently aware of your surroundings and of potential danger posed by others," said Patrick Deane, Principal of Queen's University.
"We continue to work with all of our community partners to communicate the potential for harm, and also to underline the fact that large unsanctioned gatherings provide openings for opportunistic criminals to commit crimes and acts of violence that could put you, or someone you care about, at risk."
Officers from Brockville police, Durham Regional Police and the Ontario Provincial Police swat team were deployed to Kingston last weekend to assist with policing.
Among the 100 fines issued last weekend were 58 tickets worth $2,000 each for hosting, attending or sponsoring an aggravated nuisance party. Twenty-eight charges for public intoxication and 33 charges for open liquor were also issued.
In the letter to students this week, Deane acknowledged that some students and community members felt the police presence in the University District last Saturday "was oppressive."
"Legal gathering limits are however still in force and you should expect there will be consequences for ignoring them. Everyone must adhere to the law," said Deane.
"The police will have an increased presence again this weekend as they are expecting large crowds and an influx of visitors. Whatever your personal opinion may be on policing, law enforcement officials have a responsibility to keep the community safe, something which is increasingly challenging to do when crowds grow."
The local MP says a zero-tolerance approach by police and bylaw isn't enough, and it's time Queen's University does more to control the parties – including suspensions for students.
"Bylaw, the mayor and council have done all that they can. But at the end of the day a $2,000 fine is just not making a difference," said Mark Gerretsen, MP for Kingston and the Islands. "As a matter of fact. that many students will take that fine and proudly display it as a badge of honour."